I was just thinking of an old movie with the deceased British actor Terry-Thomas (and yes, the hyphen is apparently part of his stage name). In the movie, there is an exchange that goes something like the following. He is at a party and a woman comes up and says "Why is it you? We haven't run into each other in, what?, 10 years or more." His retort is "Rather a nice interval, don't you think?"
In another movie (or perhaps the same one: I'm not sure) another woman (or perhaps the same one) announces she'd like to show him her grandchildren. His retort: "I don't want to see your beastly pictures!"
Anyway, I've always loved a great retort. In America, we have Dorothy Parker, who was almost undoubtedly the most acidic wit we've ever produced.
At the time of this quote, she was attempting to go through a doorway at the same time as Clare Booth Luce, with whom little love was lost. The story goes that Luce stepped out of the way saying, "Age before beauty." Parker didn't skip a beat, replying "Pearls before swine" (a Biblical reference)
Do you folks have any precious examples of witty exchanges like that?
Here is an exhaustive list of Dorothy Parkerisms. Not all are retorts. Some are just daffynitions such as, "If all the girls attending (a Harvard prom) were laid end to end, I should not be surprised."
At a social gathering, Gladstone said to Disraeli,
"I predict, Sir that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease".
Disraeli replied, "That all depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
One of Churchill’s: "An empty taxi arrived at 10 Downing Street and when the door was opened Attlee got out."
Another quote attributed to Churchill, who had apparently suffered a sentence rearranged by an editor to avoid ending it with a preposition (which used to be firm rule in the past much more so than today).
“This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put," is one version of it. There are many.
Another one attributed to Churchill:
Woman: "Sir, if you were my husband I would put poison in your coffee."
Churchill: "Madam, if I were your husband I'd drink it."
I like great retorts as well, Mr. Churchill is my favorite.
It's not really a retort I guess, but the other day we had a visitor to my workplace who asked "so how many people work here at this site?" and my associate replied, "about half".
This is an actual exchange I remember from my college days.
Girl: "You only like me because I'm pretty."
Guy: "I've hated prettier girls than you."
I've always liked this exchange from Duck Soup:
Rufus T. Firefly: Not that I care, but where is your husband?
Mrs. Teasdale: Why, he's dead.
Rufus T. Firefly: I bet he's just using that as an excuse.
Mrs. Teasdale: I was with him to the very end.
Rufus T. Firefly: No wonder he passed away.
Mrs. Teasdale: I held him in my arms and kissed him.
Rufus T. Firefly: Oh, I see, then it was murder. Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first.
Another one attributed to Churchill, when he was accused of being drunk, he replied:
"I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly."
He was no oil painting himself lol.
This one is not politically correct but made me laugh - from Highlander:
Detective: "Are you a faggot, Nash?"
Nash: "Why, are you cruising for a piece of ass?"