Primary Colors (film)

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Primary Colors is a 1998 film based on the novel of the same name by Joe Klein. It was directed by Mike Nichols, and stars John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates.

Jack Stanton[edit]

  • I'm gonna do something really outrageous: I'm gonna tell the truth.
  • We can do incredible things. We can change this country. I'm gonna win this thing. Look me in the eye, Henry, and tell me that you don't want to be a part of it.
  • You don't think Abraham Lincoln was a whore before he was a president? He had to tell his little stories and smile his shit-eating back country grin, and he did it all just so he could have the opportunity to one day stand before the nation and appeal to the better angels of our nature. And that's where the bullshit stops. That's what it's all about — so we have the opportunity to do it the right way. You know as well as I do, that plenty of people playing this game, they don't think that way. They're willing to sell their souls, crawl through sewers, lie to people, divide them, play on their worst fears for nothing! Just for the prize.
  • [speaking at Libby's funeral] Most of us here grew up with Libby Holden. She was our friend. She was our big sister. She bullied us, went after us, and worst of all, she remembered everything about us. All those young promises made, everything we wanted to be, everything we wanted the world to be — she remembered them all in the original wording. She wrote me a note before she died. [fighting tears as he reads it] "I am so fucking disappointed in you. Shape up!" I am so sorry that I disappointed her, and I am so sorry that I can't stand before her and promise to do better. She lent us all her warmth, her idealism, her madness. She had the most amazing heart.

Susan Stanton[edit]

  • Your grandfather was a great man. Jack Stanton could also be a great man, if he wasn't such a faithless, thoughtless, disorganized, undisciplined shit.
  • The only shot we have here is to be perfect.

Richard Jemmons[edit]

  • The media giveth, and go fuck yourself
  • You just called me a redneck, which I'm proud to say I am, and you, Hodgkiss, are a honky! You just look black, and it's the best part of ya! Lets you intimidate the palefaces, especially lib-labs, and lets ya work that voodoo sexual shit on white girls. Well, I'm probably blacker than you are. I got some slave in me. I can feel it.
  • That's what these guys do. They love you and then stop lovin' you.

Libby Holden[edit]

  • From now on you can call me the Dust Buster — I'm stronger than dirt!
  • [holding a gun to a political adversary's crotch] I am a gay lesbian woman — I do not mythologize the male sexual organ. I know you did it. It wasn't enough sticking with the crap Jack actually did — you had to get creative! Well, mister, you're about to become missus!
  • [about Jack Stanton] He's poked his pecker in some sorry trash bins.

Henry Burton[edit]

  • [while watching Shane] Come back, Shane. Run for president.
  • I'm not comparing the players. I don't like the game.


Henry Burton: I've never worked on a presidential campaign before.
Susan Stanton: Neither have we. That's how history is made, Henry — by first-timers.

Arlen Sporken: [condescendingly, to Daisy] Honey, get me one of those sandwiches, would you?
Daisy Green: [sarcastically] Only if you promise to pinch my cheek and call me "sugar".

Richard Jemmons: I got a python in here...
[Richard unzips his pants and exposes himself to Jennifer at campaign office in front of everyone]
Jennifer Rogers: Wow. I've never seen one that... old... before.

[Stanton praises an opponent's idea in the first primary debate]
Lawrence Harris: Excuse me, Jack, but what, if anything, are you against?
Jack Stanton: I'm against doing nothing while people are suffering. I'm against going against any idea that might help because it isn't my idea. Senator, you have met these people. You have looked into their eyes. Are you saying we should do nothing to help unless we come up with it?

[The campaign holds a meeting about finding the dirt in Stanton's background before their opponent can]
Susan Stanton: What's the crisis?
[There is an awkward silence, then Jemmons clears his throat and tries to explain]
Richard Jemmons: Say you're out in the woods takin' a shit, and a wild boar comes charging at you. Do you pull your britches up and run? Or do you pull your britches up and grab the doves you just shot and then try to run all at the same time? Or do you forget about the fuckin' doves and run because you ain't got time to grab the doves and button your fly? And if you miss, well... you don't wanna die with your dick hanging out, you see what I'm sayin'?
Susan Stanton: I think I speak for everyone in the room when I say "no".

[Stanton is giving a speech]
Jack Stanton: I mean, if you had to swallow as much sh-garbage...
Woman in audience: You can say "shit", we're X rated!
Jack Stanton: So am I, if you believe what you read in the paper!

Howard Ferguson: He's losing them.
Henry Burton: Fuck 'em, he's got me.

Henry Burton: I don't think I'll be able to take it if he loses.
Daisy Green: If he does lose, do you think we could go away for awhile? Try some non-campaign sex, see if it holds up?

Susan Stanton: Isn't that the thing experience teaches you? Not to get burned?
Henry Burton: Does anyone ever learn that?
Susan Stanton: Not the best people.

[Stanton hands Picker the scandalous information concerning his dealings with Reyes]
Jack Stanton: This is the only copy left. I want you to have it because it might help you to know what someone else may find. I shouldn't have looked for it. I'm really sorry.
Fred Picker: Fuckin' cocaine. You know, I was really so successful at everything I did. Business, politics, hell, I could handle anything... except cocaine. Only I didn't know that because of cocaine. That's what really fucked up my marriage. It wasn't anything else. And... I did go to bed with 'Renzo once or twice. Hell, it was just a coke thing. I could do anything, so I did that too. I'm seeing a really nice woman now... I suppose I have to tell her. [choking up] Hell of a price to pay, isn't it?
Jack Stanton: Well, maybe no one will find out.
Fred Picker: Well, you did... in a day! I should never have said yes to Mrs. Harris. But I liked what Harris was doing, and I thought I'd give it a week, and it just took off. Once I did that blood thing, God...
Jack Stanton: That was great politics.
Fred Picker: Yeah... amazing, wasn't it? Jack, I'd like to thank you for coming here, the honorable way you have. I was wrong to stay in. I just hope that maybe when I quit, they won't hit it as hard. And my boys, I really don't want them to know about 'Renzo. The problem is, the bottom line is, I'm going to be a national joke... and I'm going to have to explain it all to my boys... either way. Because no matter what I do, the press is still going to find out the rest of it, aren't they?
Jack Stanton: If they think it will sell one newspaper, yes.
Fred Picker: [breaking down] Oh, my God.
[Stanton puts his hand on Picker's shoulder]
Jack Stanton: If there's anything I can do... anything... that can make it a little better... [stands and leaves as Picker weeps]

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