Professor Levy: [voiceover] We are all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions. Moral choices. Some are on a grand scale. Most of these choices are on lesser points. But! We define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are in fact the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly, human happiness does not seem to have been included, in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love, that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying, and even to find joy from simple things like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more.
Professor Levy: You will notice that what we are aiming at when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that, when we fall in love, we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted upon us. So that love contains in it the contradiction: The attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past.
Clifford Stern: [to his wife] Honey, you're the one who stopped sleeping with me, ok. It'll be a year come April 20th. I remember the date exactly, because it was Hitler's birthday.
Clifford Stern: Show business is, is dog-eat-dog. It's worse than dog-eat-dog. It's dog-doesn't-return-other-dog's-phone-calls. You know, it's just terrible. Which reminds me, I should really check my service. I don't know why, I haven't had a message in seven years! You know, I call up and I hear the girls on the other end giggling.
Clifford Stern: Listen, I don't know from suicides. Y'know, where I grew up, in Brooklyn, nobody committed suicide. Y'know, everyone was too unhappy.
Judah Rosenthal: And after the awful deed is done, he finds that he's plagued by deep-rooted guilt. Little sparks of his religious background which he'd rejected are suddenly stirred up. He hears his father's voice. He imagines that God is watching his every move. Suddenly, it's not an empty universe at all, but a just and moral one, and he's violated it. Now, he's panic-stricken. He's on the verge of a mental collapse-an inch away from confessing the whole thing to the police. And then one morning, he awakens. The sun is shining, his family is around him and mysteriously, the crisis has lifted. He takes his family on a vacation to Europe and as the months pass, he finds he's not punished. In fact, he prospers. The killing gets attributed to another person-a drifter who has a number of other murders to his credit, so I mean, what the hell? One more doesn't even matter. Now he's scott-free. His life is completely back to normal. Back to his protected world of wealth and privilege.
Clifford Stern: [on Professor Levy's demise] He left a note. He left a simple little note that said "I've gone out the window." This is a major intellectual and he leaves a note that says "I've gone out the window." He's a role-model. You'd think he'd leave a decent note.
Lester: Comedy is tragedy plus time!
Clifford Stern: While we're waiting for a cab I'll give you your lesson for today. Don't listen to what your teachers tell ya, you know. Don't pay attention. Just, just see what they look like and that's how you'll know what life is really gonna be like.
Judah Rosenthal: I remember my father telling me, "The eyes of God are on us always." The eyes of God. What a phrase to a young boy. What were God's eyes like? Unimaginably penetrating, intense eyes, I assumed. And I wonder if it was just a coincidence I made my specialty ophthalmology.
Judah Rosenthal: Maybe I - maybe I did make some questionable moves.
Ben [as Judah's Conscience]: Only you would know that, Judah.
Judah Rosenthal: I don't any more, Ben. Sometimes there's worse things than jail.
Ben [as Judah's Conscience]: It's a human life. You don't think God sees?
Judah Rosenthal: God is a luxury I can't afford.
Cliff Stern: I think I see a cab. If we run quickly we can kick the crutch from that old lady and get it.
Clifford Stern: [on Lester] When he tells you he wants to exchange ideas, what he wants is to exchange fluids.
Clifford Stern: What is the guy so upset about? You'd think nobody was ever compared to Mussolini before.
Judah Rosenthal: You've seen too many movies. I'm talking about reality. I mean, if you want a happy ending, you should go see a Hollywood movie.
Clifford Stern: [referring to Lester] I love him like a brother... David Greenglass.
Clifford Stern: What are you bothering with this guy for? I mean, you know, he's such a pompous bore and your show does such great profiles.
Halley Reed: Well, listen, I'll tell you, just between you and me, I wanted to do Gabriel García Márquez.
Clifford Stern: That's perfect!
Halley Reed: They like to mix it up. They like a little variety. After all, he is an American phenomenon.
Clifford Stern: Yeah, but so is acid rain.
Clifford Stern: [after being handed a box of Milk Duds] Great. Now I can get rid of my few remaining teeth.
Lester: I know you don't respect what I do. I understand that. But, you know I got a closet full of Emmys! You realize that, don't you? Alright, okay, you think that's bull shit. Fine. Okay. Fine. I understand.
Clifford Stern: I don't know. Maybe I could use the money to finish my movie. You know, I do have some debts and things.
Lester: [into his recorder] Idea for farce: a poor, eh, a poor loser agrees to do the story of a great man's life and in the process comes to learn deep values.
Judah Rosenthal: She's not an insect! You don't just step on her!
Lester: A bunch of us are getting together to build major studio space for production right here in, you know, the city.
[Suddenly reaches into his jacket inside pocket and pulls out a portable voice recorder]
Lester: In fact - I'm sorry, give me one second...
[Speaks into recorder]
Lester: Idea for series - a wealthy, high-profile builder who's always trying to realize grandiose dreams, a la Donald Trump, to be shot in New York.
Aunt May: Remember: History is written by the winners. And if the Nazis had won, the future generations would understand the story of World War ll quite differently.
Judah Rosenthal: It's my fault. I instigated it. I prolonged it. Many times I tried to back off, but, I was too weak. But, I promised her nothing. Or, did I? See, I don't even know anymore. In the heat of passion you say things. All I know is after two years of shameful deceit, where I lead this double life, I awakened as if from a dream and realize what I'd been losing.
Ben: It's called wisdom. It comes to some, suddenly. We realize the difference between what's real and deep and lasting versus the superficial payoff of the moment.
Judah Rosenthal: You know, I kidded myself about loving her; but, deep down I knew, knowing I needed her selfishly, for pleasure, for adventure, for lust.
Barbara: I'm so lonely. You don't know what its like to be by yourself all the time.
Clifford Stern: Sure, you're lonely. I know its painful. But, promise me that you're never going to place another ad again. Because, that's just - you know, it's ridiculous!
Barbara: My whole life is passing me by and I don't have anyone to love. I know that's so hard for you to comprehend because you're married. But, it's so lonely out there. I mean, you have a wife and you love her and that's so nice.
Clifford Stern: Let me tell you something, things are not so good between my wife and myself. Just so you don't get any allusions. You know, we've been coming apart for the last year. You know, it's just that neither of us has the energy to do anything about it. But, it's not so great.
Jack Rosenthal: You called me because you needed some dirty work done. That's all you ever call for.
Ben [as Judah's Conscience]: You fool around with her for your pleasure; then, when you think its enough, you want to sweep her under the rug.
Judah Rosenthal: There's no other solution, but, Jack's men. I push one button and I can sleep again at nights.
Ben [as Judah's Conscience]: Could you sleep with that? Is that who you really are?
Clifford Stern: My heart says one thing, my head says something else. It's very hard to get your heart and head together in life. Let me teach you that, you know. In my case, they're not even friendly.
Judah Rosenthal: You look very deep in thought.
Clifford Stern: I was plotting the perfect murder.
Judah Rosenthal: Yeah? Movie plot?
Clifford Stern: Movie?
Judah Rosenthal: Ben, uhm... that's what Ben told me. You make films.
Clifford Stern: Yeah, but not that kind. You know, a different kind.
Judah Rosenthal: I have a great murder story.
Judah Rosenthal: My murder story has a very strange twist.
Clifford Stern: [on Lester's sitcoms] I can't watch his stuff. It's submental.
Judah Rosenthal: [to Ben - on screen as Judah's conscience] Jack lives in the real world. You live in the kingdom of heaven. I'd managed to keep free of that real world but suddenly it's found me.
Ben [as Judah's Conscience]: But the law, Judah. Without the law, it's all darkness.
Testimonial Speaker: We're all very proud of Judah Rosenthal's philanthropic efforts. His endless hours of fund raising for the hospital, the new medical center, and now, the ophthalmology wing, which until this year had just been a dream. But it's due to Rosenthal our friend that we most appreciate. The husband, the father, the golf companion. Naturally if you have a medical problem you can call Judah...
Miriam Rosenthal: You're blushing, darling.
Testimonial Speaker: ...day or night, weekends or holidays. But you can also call Judah to find out which is the best restaurant in Paris - or Athens. Or which hotel to stay at in Moscow. Or the best recording of a particular Mozart symphony...
Sharon Rosenthal: My father's so nervous about having to get up to speak.
Chris: I know, I know. I knew he was nervous when you didn't eat any of those cocktail weenies at the hors d'oeuvres.
Miriam Rosenthal: He was so courageous all week. Then suddenly tonight, stage fright. Really Judah, you were fine until you got home from work today.
Lester: Public television wants to do a documentary on me. You know, follow me around, the way I talk, the way I think, and that kind of thing. So, - it's part of their "Creative Minds" series.
Ben: What choice do you have if the woman is going to tell her? You have to confess the wrong and hope for understanding. Maybe Miriam was responsible in some ways too. You have to discuss it and hope for the best. And maybe you and Miriam can never go back to the old life; but, maybe there's a new one with maturity and understanding; maybe - maybe even a richer one.
Judah Rosenthal: You know, it's funny, for our entire adult lives, you and I have been having this same conversation in one form or another.
Ben: Yes, I know. Its a fundamental difference in the way we view the world. You see it as harsh and empty of values and pitiless. And I couldn't go on living if I didn't feel it, with all my heart, a moral structure with real meaning and - forgiveness. And some kind of higher power; otherwise, their's no basis to know how to live.
Dolores Paley: God, you're in such wonderful shape!
Judah Rosenthal: For a man my age.
Dolores Paley: For any age!
Judah Rosenthal: I was actually quite athletic when I was a young student.
Dolores Paley: You still make love like a young student.
Judah Rosenthal: Yeah?
Dolores Paley: Yeah!
Judah Rosenthal: Yeah.
Lester: I love New York. I was born in that building, right there, behind the guy, the statue, there, the guy in the pedestal. I love New York! It's like thousands of straight lines just lookin' for a punch line, you know.
Lester: What makes New York such a funny place is that there's so much tension and pain and misery and craziness here. And that's the first part of comedy. But, you got to get some distance from it, you know what I mean? The thing, the thing to remember about comedy is, if it, if it *bends* it's funny, if it breaks, it's not funny. So, you got to get back from the pain. See what I mean?
Professor Levy: The unique thing that happened to the early Israelites was that they conceived a God that cares. He cares, but, at the same time, he also demands that you behave morally. But, here comes the paradox: what's one of the first things that God asks? That God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, his beloved son, to him. In other words, in spite of millennia of efforts, we have not succeeded to create a really and entirely loving image of God. This was beyond our capacity to imagine.
Clifford Stern: I'm in a great mood today. I had a creative breakthrough; so, my juices are flowing.
Jack Rosenthal: You won't be involved; but, I'll need some cash.
Clifford Stern: This only happens in the movies.
Judah Rosenthal: Miriam won't forgive me. She'll be broken. She worships me.
Lester: Think of Oedipus. Oedipus is funny! Oedipus - that's the structure of funny, right there. "Who did this terrible thing to our city? Oh, my God, it was me." That's funny!
Clifford Stern: See. No limos. No bimbos. No, no awards or anything. This is just, you know, is just a thinker - a intellect.
Clifford Stern: You must have had a pretty terrible marriage if you don't want to be asked out on any dates.
Halley Reed: Well, no, I mean, he was great. You know, very brilliant. He's an architect. Real handsome and everything. But, if you're going to have an affair, not with my best friend, in my four poster bed, and they definitely didn't have to finish all my pistachio nuts.
Halley Reed: I've never been seduced by a guy who wears loafers and no socks.
Judah Rosenthal: Jack, God have mercy on us, Jack.
Rabbi: I'll say it once again. The eyes of God see all.
Rabbi: There is absolutely nothing that escapes His sight. He sees the righteous and He sees the wicked. And the righteous will be rewarded. But, the wicked will be punished - for eternity.
Lester: She's always got a zinger. This vixen! This minx!
Wendy Stern: We really do have to go. I have to get up at dawn and teach Emily Dickinson to a bunch of upper-middle class crack addicts.
Halley Reed: One of my favorite poets.
Clifford Stern: Me too!
Halley Reed: "Because I could not stop for Death - "
Clifford Stern: "He kindly stopped for me - " The word "kindly" - right?
Lester: "The Carriage held but just Ourselves - And Immortality. We slowly drove - He knew no haste, And I had put away, My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility - "
Dolores Paley: Do you agree the eyes are the windows of the soul?
Judah Rosenthal: Well, I believe they are windows; but, I'm not sure its the soul that's there.
Dolores Paley: My mother taught me I have a soul and it'll live on after me when I'm gone. And if you look deeply enough in my eyes, you can see it.
Ben: Are you okay, Judah? You don't look so good.
Judah Rosenthal: I'm fine. I just haven't been sleeping that well.
Ben: Tell me, if I'm not prying, did you ever resolve your personal difficulties?
Judah Rosenthal: Yes, actually. It resolved itself. The woman listened to reason.
Ben: Did she? That's wonderful! So, you got a break. Sometimes to have a little good luck is the most brilliant plan.
Aunt May: This is the 20th Century. You have young boys sitting here. Don't fill their heads with superstitions.
Sol Rosenthal: Ah, the intellectual school teacher. Spare us your - your Leninists philosophy just this once!
Aunt May: You're afraid if you don't obey the rules, God's going to punish you?
Sol Rosenthal: He won't punish me, May. He punishes the wicked.
Aunt May: Oh, who? Like Hitler!
Sol Rosenthal: May, how do say that?
Aunt May: Six million Jews burnt to death and he got away with it!
Aunt May: There's this joke about the prizefighter who enters the ring. And his brother turns to the family priest and says "Father, Pray for him." And the priest said "I will. But, if he can punch, it'll help."
Rabbi: So what are you saying May? You're saying you're challenging the whole moral structure of everything?
Aunt May: What moral structure? Is that the kind of nonsense you use on your pupils?
Rabbi: Do you not find human impulses basically decent?
Aunt May: There's basically nothing!
Professor Levy: We must always remember, that we, when we are born, we need a great deal of love, in order to persuade us to stay in life. Once we get that love, it usually last. But, the universe is a pretty cold place. It's we who invested with our feelings and, under certain conditions, we feel that the thing isn't worth it any more.
Clifford Stern: I got 600,000 feet of film on this guy. And he's telling how great life is and everything and now, you know. What am I gonna do? I'll cut it up and make it into guitar picks.
Clifford Stern: Jesus, I'm so self-conscious You know, every single thing on me is rented. A rented tux. Rented shoes. Rented underwear.
Judah Rosenthal: This is reality. In reality we rationalize, we deny or we couldn't go on living.
Halley: Don't get discouraged. You have your own personal vision.
Judah Rosenthal: It's pure evil, Jack! A man kills for money and he doesn't even know his victims!