Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


Best Film Speeches and Monologues
Title Screen
Film Title/Year and Description of Film Speech/Monologue

All That Heaven Allows (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Peg Fenwick

Salesman's Pitch for a New Television

Play clip (excerpt): All That Heaven Allows

The scene in which fortyish widow Cary Scott (Jane Wyman), after suspending her love affair with her handsome gardener Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson), was presented with a brand new TV set (adorned with red ribbons) as a Christmas present to keep her company - she saw her reflection on the screen as the salesman told her:

All you have to do is turn that dial and you have all the company you want right there on the screen - drama, comedy, life's parade at your fingertips...

Bride of the Monster (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Edward D. Wood, Jr., Alex Gordon

"I Have No Home"

Play clip (excerpt): Bride of the Monster

In Ed Wood Jr.'s B-horror film, Dr. Vornoff (Bela Lugosi) gave an impassioned speech to Prof. Strowski (George Becwar) about his exile and plans for revenge:

...Home? I have no home. Hunted, despised, living like an animal! The jungle is my home. But I will show the world that I can be its master! I will perfect my own race of people. A race of atomic supermen which will conquer the world!

[The speech was recreated memorably in Tim Burton's Ed Wood (1994) by Martin Landau, portraying Lugosi.]

The Court Jester (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Norman Panama, Melvin Frank

"The Pellet with the Poison's in the Vessel with the Pestle"

Play clip (excerpt): The Court Jester

In the film's plot, ex-acrobat and minstrel entertainer Hubert Hawkins (Danny Kaye) impersonated court jester Giacomo in order to infiltrate into the castle of the royal usurper King Roderick (Cecil Parker) in order to prevent a plot to unjustly overthrow the rightful King (a young child with a royal birthmark). At the same time, the King was insisting that his pretty daughter Princess Gwendolyn (Angela Lansbury) marry Sir Griswold (Robert Middleton) to establish a political alliance, and of course, she refused.

"Giacomo" feared facing his deadly jousting opponent Sir Griswold for "a battle to the death for the hand of the fair Gwendolyn." To help her, Gwendolyn's hand-maid and evil-eyed court witch Griselda (Mildred Natwick) surreptitiously placed a poison pellet in a toasting vessel with a pestle, and then informed "Giacomo" -- "Griswold dies as he drinks the toast."

The film's most memorable sequence was the tongue-twisting "Vessel with the Pestle (or The Pellet with the Poison)" dialogue (with hilarious results). Griselda warned "Giacomo" about the location of poison in Griswold's toasting vessel. She used a riddle that included instructions on how to avoid the poisoned drink. Specifically, "Giacomo" was instructed to remember the poisoned cup and drink location for the pre-joust toast - in a vessel (with a pestle) with drink that was poisoned by a pellet:

- I have put a pellet of poison in one of the vessels.
- Which one?
- The one with the figure of a pestle.
- The vessel with the pestle?
- Yes. But you don't want the vessel with the pestle, you want the chalice from the palace!
- I don't want the vessel with the pestle, I want the chalice from the what?
- The chalice from the palace!
- It's a little crystal chalice with a figure of a palace.
- Does the chalice from the palace have the pellet with the poison?
- No, the pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle.
- Oh, oh, the pestle with the vessel.
- The vessel with the pestle.
- What about the palace from the chalice?
- Not the palace from the chalice! The chalice from the palace!
- Where's the pellet with the poison?
- In the vessel with the pestle!
- Don't you see? The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle.
- The chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!
- It's so easy, I can say it!
- Well then you fight him!
- Listen carefully. The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle. The chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.
- Where the pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.
- Good man.
- Just remember that.

But then, Griselda reported that there was a change in the directions when the original vessel broke and the poison was now in the flagon with the dragon:

- Right. But there's been a change. They broke the chalice from the palace!
- They broke the chalice from the palace?
- And replaced it with a flagon.
- With a flagon...?
- With the figure of a dragon.
- Flagon with a dragon.
- Right.
- But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?
- No! The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!
- The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon. The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.
- Just remember that...

Griselda's First Set of Directions: "The Pellet with the Poison's in the Vessel with the Pestle"

Griselda's Corrected Second Set of Directions: "The Pellet with the Poison's in the Flagon with the Dragon"

East of Eden (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Paul Osborn

"It's Awful Not to Be Loved"

Abra's (Julie Harris) "It's awful not to be loved" speech to bedridden Mr. Adam Trask (Raymond Massey) regarding his relationship with son Cal (James Dean):

Excuse me, Mr. Trask, for daring to speak to you this way, but it's awful not to be loved. It's the worst thing in the world. Don't ask me how I know that. I just know it. It makes you, it makes you mean and violent and cruel. And that's the way Cal has always felt, all his life. I know you didn't mean it to be that way, but it's true. You never gave him your love. You never asked him for his. You never asked him for one thing. Cal is going away, Mr. Trask. But before he goes, well, he did something very bad, and I'm not asking you to forgive him. You have to give him some sign that you love him, or else he'll never be a man. He'll just keep on feeling guilty and alone, unless you release him. Please help him. I love Cal, Mr. Trask, and I want him to be whole and strong and you're the only one who can do it. So try, please try. If you could, if you could ask him for something. Let him help you so that he knows that you love him. Let him do for you. Excuse me, Mr. Trask, for daring to speak to you this way, but I just had to.

Guys and Dolls (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Very Valuable Advice: "You're Going To Wind Up With An Ear Full of Cider"

Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) to fellow gambler Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra), who attempted to wager a bet to win $1,000:

On the day when I left home to make my way in the world, my Daddy took me to one side. 'Son,' my Daddy says to me, 'I am sorry I am not able to bankroll you to a very large start, but not having the necessary lettuce to get you rolling, instead I'm going to stake you to some very valuable advice.

One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, you do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you're going to wind up with an ear full of cider.'

Marty (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

"Dogs Like Us, We Ain't Such Dogs As We Think We Are!"

Play clip (excerpt): Marty

Unmarried, lovelorn middle-aged, 34 year-old Bronx butcher Marty (Ernest Borgnine) (calling himself "a professor of pain") awkwardly attempted to make a dance date, an equally 29 year-old plain girl named Clara Snyder (Betsy Blair), feel better by telling her about his own rejections and ugliness:

And I also want you to know that I'm having a very good time with you right now and really enjoyin' myself. You see, you're not such a dog as you think you are. (Clara: "I'm having a very good time too.") So there you are. So I guess I'm not such a dog as I think I am. (Clara: "You're a very nice guy. I don't know why some girl hasn't grabbed you off long ago.")

Well, I don't know either. I think I'm a very nice guy. I also think I'm a pretty smart guy in my own way...You know how I figure. Two people get married and are gonna live together forty or fifty years, so it's gotta be more than whether they're just good-looking or not. Now you tell me you think you're not so good looking. Well, my father was a real ugly man but my mother adored him. She told me how she used to get so miserable sometimes - like everybody, you know? And, and she says my father always tried to understand. I used to see them sometimes when I was a kid sittin' in the living room talkin' and talkin'. And I used to adore my old man because he was always so kind. That's one of the most beautiful things I have in my life - the way my father and mother were. And my father was a real ugly man. So it doesn't matter if you look like a gorilla. You see, dogs like us, we ain't such dogs as we think we are.

Mister Roberts (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Frank Nugent and Joshua Logan

"At a Time in the World When Courage Counted Most, I Lived Among 62 Brave Men"

At the conclusion of this comedy-drama set during WWII, there were two letter-reading scenes (both by Ensign Pulver (Jack Lemmon)). The first was a letter from Lt. Doug 'Mister' Roberts (Henry Fonda) (written three weeks earlier) who was serving his new assignment on board the USS Livingston during the Battle of Okinawa, including his statement that he would rather have had his old crew's hand-made Order of the Palm than the Congressional Medal of Honor:

Doc, I've been aboard this destroyer for two weeks now, and we've already been through four air attacks. I'm in the war at last, Doc! I've caught up with that task force that passed me by. I'm glad to be here. I had to be here, I guess. But I'm thinking now of you Doc, and you Frank. And Dolan, and Dowdy, and Insigna and everyone else on that bucket. All the guys everywhere who sail from Tedium to Apathy and back again, with an occasional side trip to Monotony. This is a tough crew on here, and they have a wonderful battle record. But I've discovered, Doc, that the unseen enemy of this war is the boredom that eventually becomes a faith and therefore, a terrible sort of suicide. And l know now that the ones who refuse to surrender to it are the strongest of all. Right now, I'm looking at something that's hanging over my desk. A preposterous hunk of brass attached to the most bilious piece of ribbon I've ever seen. I'd rather have it than the Congressional Medal of Honor. It tells me what I'll always be proudest of - that at a time in the world when courage counted most, I lived among 62 brave men. So, Doc, and especially you, Frank, don't let those guys down. Of course, l know that by this time, they must be very happy because the Captain's overhead is filled with marbles. And here comes the mail orderly. This has to go now. l'll finish it later. Meanwhile you guys can write too, can't you? Doug

A second letter, this one from Fornell, brought a stunned reaction from Pulver with the news that Mister Roberts had died in action during a kamikaze raid:

Mister Roberts is dead. This is from Fornell. They took a Jap suicide plane and killed everybody in a twin 40 battery and went right on through and killed Doug and some other officer, in the wardroom. They were drinking coffee when it hit.

With a determined and resolute look on his face, Ensign Pulver tossed the replacement palm tree off the ship's deck into the water, entered the bridge, banged on Captain Morton's (James Cagney) door, and finally stood up to him - with the film's final line of dialogue:

Captain, it is I, Ensign Pulver, and I just threw your stinkin' palm tree overboard! Now what's all this crud about no movie tonight?

The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Screenwriter(s): James Agee, Charles Laughton (uncredited)

An Insane Preacher's Prayer

Play clip (excerpt): The Night of the Hunter

The insane, memorable, and perversely-evil, chilling prayer of "Preacher" Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum), a killer-evangelist with borderline sanity who glanced heavenward while driving:

Well now, what's it to be, Lord? Another widow? How many has it been? Six? Twelve? I disremember. You say the word, Lord, I'm on my way...You always send me money to go forth and preach your Word. The widow with a little wad of bills hid away in a sugar bowl. Lord, I am tired. Sometimes I wonder if you really understand. Not that You mind the killin's. Yore Book is full of killin's. But there are things you do hate Lord: perfume-smellin' things, lacy things, things with curly hair.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Screenwriter(s): James Agee, Charles Laughton (uncredited)

Tattoos and the Famous Tale of "L-O-V-E" and "H-A-T-E"

Top Pick

Play clip (excerpt): The Night of the Hunter

The Preacher's explanation of the tattoos on his fingers to little John Harper (Billy Chapin) and others listening in the Spoon's ice-cream parlor:

Ah, little lad, you're staring at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of right-hand / left-hand? The story of good and evil? H-A-T-E! It was with this left hand that old brother Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low. L-O-V-E! You see these fingers, dear hearts? These fingers has veins that run straight to the soul of man. The right hand, friends, the hand of love. Now watch, and I'll show you the story of life. Those fingers, dear hearts, is always a-warring and a-tugging, one agin t'other. Now watch 'em! Old brother left hand, left hand he's a fighting, and it looks like love's a goner. But wait a minute! Hot dog, love's a winning! Yessirreee! It's love that's won, and old left hand hate is down for the count!

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Stewart Stern

"Dirty Tramp" Speech

Judy's (Natalie Wood) "dirty tramp" speech about her father:

He must hate me. He hates me....I don't think, I know. He looks at me like I was the ugliest thing in the world. He doesn't like my friends. He doesn't like one thing about me. He called me - he called me a dirty tramp, my own father... I don't know, I mean, maybe he doesn't mean it, but he acts like he does. We were all together. We were gonna celebrate Easter and we were gonna catch a double bill. Big deal! So I put on my new dress and I came out, and he grabbed my face and he started rubbing off all the lipstick. I thought he'd rub off my lips. And I ran out of that house.

The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Billy Wilder, George Axelrod

Summer Rituals in NYC

Play clip (excerpt): The Seven Year Itch

The comic opening voice-over monologue by the Narrator (Joshua Logan) told about the virtually identical summer rituals of the Manhattan Indians and Manhattanites 500 years later. Husbands would say goodbye to their wives, and then follow after attractive females a moment later:

The island of Manhattan derives its name from its earliest inhabitants - the Manhattan Indians. They were a peaceful tribe, setting traps, fishing, hunting. And there was a custom among them. Every July, when the heat and the humidity on the island became unbearable, they would send their wives and children away for the summer, up the river to the cooler highlands, or, if they could afford it, to the seashore. The husbands, of course, would remain behind on the steaming island to attend to business - setting traps, fishing, and hunting. [As soon as the Indian squaws were out of sight, the Indian chiefs followed an attractive Indian squaw.]

Actually, our story has nothing whatsoever to do with Indians. It plays 500 years later...We only brought up the subject to show you that in all that time, nothing has changed. Manhattan husbands still send their wives and kids away for the summer, and they still remain behind in the steaming city to attend to business, setting traps, fishing, and hunting. Now we want you to meet a typical Manhattan husband whose family is leaving for the summer...

The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Billy Wilder, George Axelrod

Virtues of Nudity and Naturism

Play clip (excerpt): The Seven Year Itch

A plain and middle-aged waitress (Doro Merande) in a vegetarian restaurant on 3rd Avenue espoused the virtues of nudity and naturism to Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell). She explained that although she didn't accept tips, she did solicit contributions for a fund established for a nudist camp:

Nudism is such a worthy cause. We must bring the message to the people. We must teach them to unmask their poor suffocating bodies and let them breathe again. Clothes are the enemy. Without clothes, there'd be no sickness, there'd be no war. I ask you, sir, can you imagine two great armies on the battlefield, no uniforms, completely nude? No way of telling friend from foe. All brothers, together.

The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Screenwriter(s): Billy Wilder, George Axelrod

"What a Pretty Girl Wants"

Play clip (excerpt): The Seven Year Itch

The Girl (Marilyn Monroe) listened to neighbor Richard Sherman's (Tom Ewell) assertion about his vivid imagination: "It's just my imagination. Some people have flat feet. Some people have dandruff. I have this appalling imagination."

I think it's just elegant to have an imagination. I just have no imagination at all. I have lots of other things, but I have no imagination...Come on now, relax. You're just making this all up.

Sherman explained how his wife trusted him implicitly and took him for granted, not even suspecting lipstick on his collar after a Christmas office party - believing it was only cranberry sauce. He thought that women only wanted a man who looked like Gregory Peck ("Let's face it. No pretty girl in her right mind wants me. She wants Gregory Peck"). She bolstered his ego and showed some kindness to reassure him, ending with her ultimate compliment and unique accolade:

Is that so?...How do you know what a pretty girl wants?...You and your imagination. You think every girl's a dope. You think a girl goes to a party, and there's some guy - a great big lunk in a fancy striped vest, strutting around like a tiger, giving you that 'I'm so handsome, you can't resist me' look, and from this, she's supposed to fall flat on her face. Well, she doesn't fall on her face. But there's another guy in the room, way over in the corner. Maybe he's kind of nervous and shy, perspiring a little. First, you look past him, but then you sort of sense, he's gentle and kind and worried, and he'll be tender with you, nice and sweet. That's what's really exciting! If I were your wife, I'd be very jealous of you. I'd be very very jealous. (she kissed him) I think you're just elegant.

Best Film Speeches and Monologues
(chronological, by film title)
1920-1931 | 1932-1935 | 1936-1937 | 1938-1939 | 1939
1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943-1944 | 1945-1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952-1954
1955 | 1956-1957 | 1958-1959 | 1960 | 1961-1962 | 1963-1964 | 1965-1967 | 1968-1969
1970 | 1971 | 1972-1973 | 1974-1975 | 1976 | 1976-1977 | 1978-1979 | 1979 | 1980
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