In Impromptus today, I wrote, “There is an old movie line: ‘What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.’” My friend Fred Kirshnit, the music critic and scholar, wrote in with what he said was a “minuscule point”: The line is actually “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” No “a.” I’ll be damned. I think the “a” is lodged into most people’s brains. I went to see the clip on YouTube: Underneath, it says, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” And, in Cool Hand Luke, the guy says, clear as day, “What we’ve got here is failure . . .” The clip is unmistakable.
So, I have corrected the line in my column. Remind me, please: Does Hamlet really say, “To be, or not to be, that is the question”? “A question”? “A helluva question”?