Noel Coward's Quotes

1 [on Arthur Miller] The cruelest blow life has dealt him is that he hasn't a grain of humour.
2 [on the first of the Ian Fleming novels to be filmed; Ian had asked Noël to play "Dr. No"] No, no, no, a thousand times no!
3 [on Method actors who believed they needed to know a character's motivation to portray a role] If you must have motivation, think of your pay packet on Friday.
4 I behaved through most of the [Second World] war with gallantry tinged, I suspect, by a strong urge to show off.
5 The world has treated me very well. But then I haven't treated it so badly, either.
6 I was a brazen, odious little prodigy, over-pleased with myself and precocious to a degree. I was a talented boy, God knows, and when washed and smarmed down a bit, passably attractive.
7 I have a slight reforming urge, but have rather cunningly kept it down.
8 A bout of influenza laid me low in Shanghai, and I lay, sweating gloomily, in my bedroom in the Cathay Hotel for several days. The ensuing convalescence, however, was productive, for I utilized it by writing 'Private Lives'. The idea by now seemed ripe enough to have a shot at it, so I started it, propped up in bed with a writing-block and an Eversharp pencil, and completed it, roughly, in four days. It came easily, and with the exception of a few of the usual 'blood and tears' moments, I enjoyed writing it. I thought it a shrewd and witty comedy, well constructed on the whole, but psychologically unstable.
9 [In 1940, on coping with air raids] When the warning sounds I gather up some pillows, a pack of cards and a bottle of gin, tuck myself beneath the stairs and do very nicely with the consolations of a drink and solitaire until "all clear" sounds.
10 [on the Duke of Windsor 's abdication to in order to marry a divorced woman] A statue should be erected to Mrs. Simpson in every town in England for the blessing she has bestowed upon the country.
11 Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
12 [on one of his most famous love songs, "I'll See You Again"] I have heard it played in all parts of the world. Brass bands have blared it, string orchestras have swooned it, Palm Court quartets have murdered it, barrel organs have ground it out in London squares, and swing bands have tortured it beyond recognition. I am still fond of it and very proud of it.
13 [talking about the diaeresis (two dots) over the "e" in his first name] I didn't put the dots over the "e" in Noël. The language did. Otherwise it's not Noël but Nool!
14 [on A.E. Matthews ] He bumbled through the play like a charming retriever who has buried a bone and can't quite remember where.
15 [on Sophia Loren ] She should have been sculpted in chocolate truffles so that the world could devour her.
16 [MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer ] ordered Nelson Eddy to marry. Eddy agreed, but he didn't want a virgin bride or some insatiable creature, and Mayer understood. Sometimes the least sexual marriages last the longest, so long as it's mutual . . . Mayer found him an older divorcée who'd been married to a movie director--she was wise to the ways of Tinseltown, she was not sexually demanding or needful, and she was well-pleased to live the comfortable life of a movie star's wife.
17 I can accept anything in the theatre provided it amuses me or moves me. But if it does neither, I want to go home.
18 The day when I shall begin to worry is when the critics declare: 'This is Noël Coward's greatest play.' But I know they bloody well won't.
19 My life really has been one long extravaganza.
20 I don't much care for Hollywood, I'd rather have a nice cup of cocoa.
21 [His last words] Good night my darlings. I'll see you in the morning.
22 [In a telegram to Gertrude Lawrence upon her marriage to Richard Aldrich ] Dear Mrs. A: Hooray! Hooray! You finally are de-flowered. I love you now and every day. Sincerely, Noel Coward.
23 My importance to the world is relatively small. On the other hand, my importance to myself is tremendous. I am all I have to work with, to play with, to suffer and to enjoy. It is not the eyes of others that I am wary of, but of my own. I do not intend to let myself down more than I can possibly help, and I find that the fewer illusions I have about myself or the world around me, the better company I am for myself.
24 Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.
25 Wit is like caviar - it should be served in small portions and not spread about like marmalade.
26 [asked what he thought about his Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965) co-star Keir Dullea ] Keir today, gone tomorrow.
27 I never care who scored the goal, or which side won the silver cup--I never learned to bat or bowl--But I heard the curtain going up.
28 Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington.
29 Extraordinary how potent cheap music is
30 Everybody worships me, it's nauseating.
31 Comedies of manners swiftly become obsolete when there are no longer any manners.
32 [To Peter O'Toole ] If you'd been any prettier, it would have been "Florence of Arabia".
33 [About Oscar Wilde ] It is extraordinary indeed that such a posing, artificial old queen should have written one of the greatest comedies in the English language!
34 Having to read a footnote resembles having to go downstairs to answer the door while in the midst of making love.
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