All the references, lovingly collated


Is this couples therapy?... (15.22)

Dollar Bil: Is this couples therapy? Is this what couples therapy is like?

Wendy: You've never been?

Spyros: I've never been married but I've gone to couples with three separate women.

Dollar Bil: Never did it. Which may be how I stay married to two women.

Wendy: This isn't couples. But behind pretty much every shouting match is a communications breakdown.

Spyros: What we got here is failure to communicate.

Dollar Bil: A failure to communicate.

Wendy: Actually it's both. Strother Martin says it one way, Newman another. But, yes.


The phrase "What we've got here is failure to communicate" is a quotation from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, spoken in the movie first by Strother Martin (as the Captain, a prison warden) and, later, paraphrased by Paul Newman (as Luke, a stubborn prisoner).

The context of the first delivery of the line is:

Captain: You gonna get used to wearing them chains after a while, Luke. Don't you never stop listening to them clinking, 'cause they gonna remind you what I been saying for your own good.

Luke: (sarcastically) I wish you'd stop being so good to me, Cap'n.

Captain: Don't you ever talk that way to me. (pause, then hitting him) NEVER! NEVER! (Luke rolls down hill; to other prisoners)

What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men. The Captain's line is often misquoted as "What we have here is a failure to communicate".[2] This is actually a quote by Zero Mostel in the 1969 comedy movie The Great Bank Robbery.

Towards the end of the movie, Luke persists in his rebellious nature and takes a stab at freedom – stealing a dump truck and taking flight. After his dramatic escape from the Florida chain gang prison, Luke abandons the truck and enters a church, only to be surrounded by police moments later. Knowing that he is caught, he walks to a window facing the police and mocks the Captain by repeating the first part of his speech ("What we got here is a failure to communicate."). He is immediately shot in the neck by Boss Godfrey.

The phrase ranks at number 11 on the American Film Institute list, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes.