Maggie Smith had some real zingers in the TV series, and she's at it again in the new Downton Abbey movie.  It's razor-sharp with that doesn't offend anybody, and nobody delivers it like Maggie.

Watching Maggie Smith deliver a good line as the Dowager Countess is a fascinating process.  Looking at her face it seems as if she's sensing the words bubble up at the base of her spine and she feels them rattle all the way up her back, and just as they're about to hit her lips her eyes get a little wider, and she tenses up and spits them out like they're a bunch of sour-tasting lemons.  So there, everybody.  And it's awesome.

One of my personal favs from the new Downton Abbey movie was this gem.  Just after Isobel said, “Oh Violet. After all these years you still astonish me.”  Violet claps back with, “Oh good, I’m glad I’m a revelation and not a disappointment."  Revelations keep unfolding, and I wanted her to keep talking forever.

Other good Dowager lines include these:

Violet: “What simpletons men are.”

Lord Grantham: “Let’s not argue.”
Violet: “I never argue. I explain.”

Isobel: “And you’re an expert in the matter?”
Violet: “I am an expert in every matter.”

Violet:  “Royal women are not meant to grin like Cheshire cats.”

Violet:  “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.”

And some of the best of all time:

Violet:  "Life is a game where the player must appear ridiculous."

Violet:  "Hope is a tease designed to prevent us from accepting reality."

Violet:  "Principles are like prayers: Noble of course, but awkward at a party."

In its opening weekend September 20-22, Downton Abbey ended up with the best first weekend ever for Focus Features in its 17-year history.  And it was the best opening for any specialty studio in a decade, beating Brad Pitt's "Ad Astra" and Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo: Last Blood" in a big upset.  My theater was packed, and there was no shortage of giggles any time Maggie Smith worked up a gem.

Fans this weekend might be going back to see it again, just to hear the best Voilet lines a second time.  Guys always seem to have hundreds of useless movie lines stored in their brains that they whip out on a moment's notice to impress the office, and now it's our turn, ladies!  We just have to work on that British accent.

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