"I, sir, if that nose were mine, I'd have it amputated on the spot."
Description: Jóse Ferrer as swordsman/poet Cyrano de Bergerac delivers a volley of putdowns-to Vicomte de Valvert (Albert Cavens) in the motion picture Cyrano De Bergerac (1950)
Cyrano de Bergerac is a soldier in the service of the French military in the year 1640. He is a proud, boastful, and has a very large nose. Any assault on his proboscis, whether verbal or physical, is met with Cyrano's sharp wit and the even sharper point of his sword.
While Cyrano is attending a play at the Theatre of the Burgoyne in Paris, the Vicomte de Valvert looks upon Cyrano's nose with conceit, and says, "Monsieur, your nose... your nose is rather large." In a grave voice, Cyrano replies, “Is that all? ” Then Cyrano charismatic personality cuts the Vicomte down to size by offering up a series of self-deprecating remarks that outdo the Vicomte's own simple wit.
|Cyrano:||Oh, no, young sir. You are too simple. Why, you might have said a great many things. Why waste your opportunity? For example, thus:
These, my dear sir, are things you might have said, had you some tinge of letters or of wit to color your discourse. But wit? Not so, you never had an atom. And of letters, you need but three to write you down: A-S-S. Ass!
|Vicomte:||Insolent puppy, dolt, bumpkin, fool!|
|Cyrano:||How do you do? And I, Cyrano Savinien Hercule de Bergerac.|
|Vicomte:||Such arrogance, this scarecrow. Look at him! No ribbons, no lace, not even gloves!|
|Cyrano:||True! I carry my adornments only on my soul, decked with deeds instead of ribbons. Manful in my good name, and crowned with the white plume of freedom. But, I have no gloves. A pity too. I had one - the last of an old pair - and lost that. Very careless of me. A gentleman offered me an impertinence. I left it - in his face.|
|Vicomte:||[Drawing his rapier] So be it!|
|Cyrano:||You shall die exquisitely!|
|Vicomte:||Oh, a poet?|
|Cyrano:||Oh, yes, a poet. So, while we fight, I'll improvise a ballad for you, and as I end the refrain, thrust home.|
|Cyrano:||I will. Ballad of the duel at the Theatre of the Burgoyne, between de Bergerac and... a barbarian.|
|Vicomte:||What do you mean by that?|
|Cyrano:||Oh, that? The title.|
Note: The above insults are inspired by the play Cyrano de Bergerac written by French playwright Edmond Rostand (1868-1918). The following is an excerpt from the original play (Scene 1.IV):
Vicomte: “I'll treat him to…one of my quips! See here! (He goes up to Cyrano, who is watching him, and with a conceited air) “Sir, your nose is...hmm...it is...very big!”
Cyrano: (in a grave voice): “Very…Is that all? Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short! You might have said at least a hundred things. By varying the tone...like this, suppose:"
- Aggressive: 'Sir, if I had such a nose, I'd amputate it!'
- Friendly: 'When you sup, it must annoy you, dipping in your cup; You need a drinking-bowl of special shape!'
- Descriptive: 'Tis a rock!...a peak!...a cape! —A cape, forsooth! 'Tis a peninsular!'
- Curious: 'How serves that oblong capsular? For scissor-sheath? Or pot to hold your ink?'
- Gracious: 'You love the little birds, I think? I see you've managed with a fond research to find their tiny claws a roomy perch!'
- Truculent: 'When you smoke your pipe...suppose That the tobacco-smoke spouts from your nose—Do not the neighbors, as the fumes rise higher, Cry terror-struck: "The chimney is afire"?'
- Considerate: 'Take care,...your head bowed low by such a weight...lest head o'er heels you go!'
- Tender: 'Pray get a small umbrella made, Lest its bright color in the sun should fade!'
- Pedantic: 'That beast Aristophanes'
- Names: Hippocamelelephantoles Must have possessed just such a solid lump Of flesh and bone, beneath his forehead's bump!'
- Cavalier: 'The last fashion, friend, that hook? To hang your hat on? 'Tis a useful crook!'
- Emphatic: 'No wind, O majestic nose, Can give THEE cold!—save when the mistral blows!'
- Dramatic: 'When it bleeds, what a Red Sea!'
- Admiring: 'Sign for a perfumery!'
- Lyric: 'Is this a conch? ... a Triton you?'
- Simple: 'When is the monument on view?'
- Rustic: 'That thing a nose? Marry-come-up! 'Tis a dwarf pumpkin, or a prize turnip!'
- Military: 'Point against cavalry!'
- Practical: 'Put it in a lottery! Assuredly 'twould be the biggest prize!' Or...parodying Pyramus' sighs...'Behold the nose that mars the harmony. Of its master's phiz! blushing its treachery!'
“—Such, my dear sir, is what you might have said, Had you of wit or letters the least jot: But, O most lamentable man!—of wit You never had an atom, and of letters. You have three letters only!—they spell Ass! And—had you had the necessary wit, To serve me all the pleasantries I quote Before this noble audience ...e'en so, You would not have been let to utter one—Nay, not the half or quarter of such jest! I take them from myself all in good part, but not from any other man that breathes must have possessed just such a solid lump.”
See also - Roxanne (1987)