Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


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

The Alamo (1960)
Screenwriter(s): James Edward Grant

About The Word "Republic"

Play clip (excerpt): The Alamo

Ready to defend the Alamo in the year 1836 during the Texan War of Independence (or Texas Revolution), Tennessee frontiersman Davy Crockett (John Wayne) spoke to Col. William Travis (Laurence Harvey) about his feelings on the word 'republic.' [Note: the Republic of Texas was established shortly after the defeat at the Alamo]:

'Republic'. I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words give you a feeling. 'Republic' is one of those words that makes me tight in the throat - the same tightness a man gets when his baby takes his first step or his first baby shaves and makes his first sound like a man. Some words can give you a feeling that make your heart warm. 'Republic' is one of those words.

Travis responded that he now had learned that Crockett wasn't the "illiterate country bumpkin" that most people believed, and that he had come to Texas to fight with the others.

The Alamo (1960)
Screenwriter(s): James Edward Grant

Davy Crockett's Speech to Flaca - "There's Right and There's Wrong. You Got to Do One Or the Other"

Play clip (excerpt): The Alamo

Davy Crockett (John Wayne) spoke to Flaca (Linda Cristal), when she asked what was going to happen between them:

And l was the one that said this country was burnt-over sand. lt's green and growing. Like those green pastures they talk about. Lord above. That's one beautiful tree. This tree must've been growed before man put his first dirty footprints on this prairie. Kind of a tree Adam and Eve must have met under. You know something, Flaca? l guess l saw who knows how many trees before l ever took a long, thoughtful look at one. Mostly, l looked at a tree to see was there a bear in it or an lndian behind it...

I'm gonna tell you something, Flaca, and I want you to listen tight. May sound like I'm talkin' about me. But I'm not. I'm talkin' about you. As a matter of fact, I'm talkin' about all people everywhere. When I come down here to Texas, I was lookin' for somethin'. I didn't know what. Seems like you added up my life and I spent it all either stompin' other men or, in some cases, gettin' stomped. Had me some money and had me some medals. But none of it seemed a lifetime worth the pain of the mother that bore me. It was like I was empty.

Well, I'm not empty anymore. That's what's important, to feel useful in this old world, to hit a lick against what's wrong or to say a word for what's right even though you get walloped for sayin' that word. Now I may sound like a Bible beater yellin' up a revival at a river crossing camp meeting, but that don't change the truth none. There's right and there's wrong. You gotta do one or the other. You do the one and you're livin'. You do the other and you may be walkin' around, but you're dead as a beaver hat.

The Apartment (1960)
Screenwriter(s): Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond

Powerless - "I Have This Little Problem With My Apartment"

Play clip (excerpt): The Apartment

As the film opened with credits and aerial helicopter views of NYC, lonely, young, vulnerable, and subordinate office clerk, C. C. "Bud" Baxter (Jack Lemmon) described (in voice-over) how he was employed in a large impersonal Manhattan life insurance firm, and was seen in a second-story apartment window. He was an average hard-working, upwardly-mobile American employee in a powerless position in life:

On November 1st, 1959, the population of New York City was 8,042,783. If you laid all these people end to end, figuring an average height of five feet six and a half inches, they would reach from Times Square to the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan. I know facts like this because I work for an insurance company - Consolidated Life of New York. We're one of the top five companies in the country. Our home office has 31,259 employees - which is more than the entire population of, uh, Natchez, Mississippi. I work on the 19th floor - Ordinary Policy Department - Premium Accounting Division - Section W - desk number 861.

My name is C. C. Baxter - C. for Calvin, C. for Clifford, however most people call me Bud. I've been with Consolidated for three years and ten months and my take-home pay is $94.70 a week.

The hours in our department are 8:50 to 5:20. (Closing bell rings) They're staggered by floors, so that sixteen elevators can handle the 31,259 employees without a serious traffic jam. As for myself, I very often stay on at the office and work for an extra hour or two, especially when the weather is bad. It's not that I'm overly ambitious, it's just a, a way of killing time until it's all right for me to go home. You see, I have this little problem with my apartment.

I live in the West 60s, just half a block from Central Park. My rent is $85 dollars a month. It used to be $80 until last July when Mrs. Lieberman, the landlady, put in a second-hand air conditioning unit. It's a real nice apartment - nothing fancy - but kind of cozy - just right for a bachelor. The only problem is - I can't always get in when I want to.

Elmer Gantry (1960)
Screenwriter(s): Richard Brooks

"Love is the Mornin' and the Evenin' Star"

Play clip (excerpt): Elmer Gantry

Huckster Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster) in a speakeasy demonstrated his high-energy eloquence with words in this impromptu Christmas sermon while collecting from patrons:

Oh I see. You think, uh, religion is for suckers and easy marks and molly-coddlers, huh? You think Jesus was some kind of a sissy, hey? Well, let me tell you, Jesus wouldn't be afraid to walk into this joint or any other speakeasy to preach the gospel. Jesus had guts. He wasn't afraid of the whole Roman army.

(Pointing to a picture) Think that quarterback's hot stuff? Well, let me tell you, Jesus would have made the best little All-American quarterback in the history of football. Jesus was a real fighter - the best little scrapper, pound for pound, you ever saw.

And why, gentlemen? Love, gentlemen. Jesus had love in both fists! And what is love? Love is the mornin' and the evenin' star. It shines on the cradle of the Babe. Hear ye, sinners. Love is the inspiration of poets and philosophers. Love is the voice of music. I'm talkin' about divine love - not carnal love.

Elmer Gantry (1960)
Screenwriter(s): Richard Brooks

"You're All Sinners"

Play clips (excerpt): Elmer Gantry Elmer Gantry

Gantry turned into an evangelizing, Bible Belt revivalist preacher with tremendous showmanship, and rolled up shirt-sleeves. He preached hellfire and brimstone, thumped his Bible, performed miracles, and led repentant sinners to conversion in the Bible Belt tent meetings:

Sin. Sin, Sin. You're all sinners. You're all doomed to perdition. You're all goin' to the painful, stinkin', scaldin', everlastin' tortures of a fiery hell, created by God for sinners, unless, unless, unless you repent. Repent with Sister Falconer

He also preached against the sin of boozing:

As long as I got a foot, I'll kick booze. And, as long as I got a fist, I'll punch it. And, as long as I got a tooth, I'll bite it. And, when I'm old and gray and toothless and bootless, I'll gum it till I go to heaven and booze goes to hell.

Inherit the Wind (1960)
Screenwriter(s): Nedrick Young, Harold Jacob Smith

Questioning the Bible's Scientific Authority on the Witness Stand

Play clips (excerpt): Inherit the Wind Inherit the Wind

Henry Drummond's (Spencer Tracy) questioning examination on the witness stand of opponent and prosecuting attorney Matthew Brady (Fredric March) on the Scientific Authority of the Bible during the so-called Monkey Trial:

- You believe that every word written in this book should be taken literally?
- Everything in the Bible should be accepted exactly as it is given there.
- Now what about this part right here, where, uh, uh, it talks about, uh, Jonah being swallowed by the whale? You figure that really happened?
- The Bible does not say a whale. It says a big fish.
- As a matter of fact, it says a 'great' fish. But I guess that's - one's pretty much the same as the other. What do you think about that business?
- I believe in a God who can make a whale and who can make a man, and make both do what he pleases.

- The Bible is a book. It's a good book. But it is not the only book.
- It the revealed word of the Almighty God, spake to the men who wrote the Bible.
- How do you know that God didn't spake to Charles Darwin?
- I know because God tells me to oppose the evil teachings of that man.
- Oh, God speaks to you?
- Yes.
- He tells you what is right and wrong?
- Yes.
- And you act accordingly?
- Yes!
- So, you, Mathew Harrison Brady, through oratory or legislature or whatever, you pass on God's orders to the rest of the world! Well, meet the Prophet from Nebraska!
- I... Please!
- Is that the way of things?! Is that the way of things?! God tells Brady what is good! To be against Brady is to be against God!
- No! Each man is a free agent.
- Then what is Bertram Cates doing in a Hillsboro jail? Supposing Mr. Cates had the influence and the lung power to railroad through the state legislature a law saying that only Darwin could be taught in school.
- Ridiculous. Ridiculous. There is only one great truth in the world.
- The Gospel. The Gospel according to Brady! God speaks to Brady and Brady tells the world! Brady, Brady, Brady Almighty!

Ultimately, he forced Brady to exasperatingly declare:

All of you know -- what I said was -- what I believe -- I believe in the truth of the book of Genesis! Exodus! Leviticus! Numbers! Deuteronomy! Joshua! Judges! Ruth! 1st Samuel! 2nd Samuel! 1st Kings! 2nd Kings! Isaiah! Jeremiah! Lamentations! Ezekiel --

The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Screenwriter(s): William Roberts

Courage and Bravery

Play clip (excerpt): The Magnificent Seven

Irish-Mexican gunfighter Bernardo O'Reilly (Charles Bronson), one of the "Magnificent Seven" defending an oppressed Mexican village, spoke harshly back to a peasant boy who was ashamed to live in the village and believed his father was a coward ("Take us with you, please!...We're ashamed to live here. Our fathers are cowards"). He spanked the boy and then told him:

Don't you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun? Well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility, for you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there's nobody says they have to do this. They do it because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee will ever come of it. This is bravery. That's why I never even started anything like that. That's why I never will.

Psycho (1960)
Screenwriter(s): Joseph Stefano

An Explanation of Norman Bates' Dual, Schizophrenic Personality

Play clip (excerpt): Psycho

Smug and officious police psychiatrist, Dr. Richmond (Simon Oakland) in the Office of the Chief of Police in the County Courthouse, reconstructed or 'explained' the mystery of Norman Bates' (Anthony Perkins) schizophrenic psychosis after questioning 'his mother' - since Norman no longer existed.

I got the whole story, but not from Norman. I got it from his 'mother'. Norman Bates no longer exists. He only half-existed to begin with. And now, the other half has taken over, probably for all time...A psychiatrist doesn't lay the groundwork. He merely tries to explain it...

Now, to understand it the way I understood it, hearing it from the 'mother', that is, from the 'mother' half of Norman's mind, you have to go back ten years to the time when Norman murdered his mother and her lover. Now he was already dangerously disturbed, had been ever since his father died. His mother was a clinging, demanding woman, and for years, the two of them lived as if there was no one else in the world. Then, she met a man and it seemed to Norman that she threw him over for this man. Now that pushed him over the line and he killed them both.

Matricide is probably the most unbearable crime of all - most unbearable to the son who commits it. So he had to erase the crime, at least in his own mind. He stole her corpse. A weighted coffin was buried. He hid the body in the fruit cellar, even treated it to keep it as well as it would keep. And that still wasn't enough. She was there, but she was a corpse.

So he began to think and speak for her, give her half his life, so to speak. At times, he could be both personalities, carry on conversations. At other times, the 'mother' half took over completely. Now, he was never all Norman, but he was often only 'mother'. And because he was so pathologically jealous of her, he assumed that she was as jealous of him. Therefore, if he felt a strong attraction to any other woman, the 'mother' side of him would go wild. (To Lila) When he met your sister, he was touched by her, aroused by her. He wanted her. That set off the jealous 'mother', and 'mother' killed the girl. Now after the murder, Norman returned as if from a deep sleep, and, like a dutiful son, covered up all traces of the crime he was convinced his 'mother' had committed!...

A man who dresses in women's clothing in order to achieve a sexual change or satisfaction, is a transvestite. But in Norman's case, he was simply doing every thing possible to keep alive the illusion of his mother being alive. And when reality came too close, when danger or desire threatened that illusion, he'd dress up, even to a cheap wig he bought. He'd walk about the house, sit in her chair, speak in her voice. He tried to be his mother. And, uh, now he is. Now that's what I meant when I said I got the story from the 'mother'. You see, when the mind houses two personalities, there's always a conflict, a battle. In Norman's case, the battle is over, and the dominant personality has won. (And the $40,000? Who got that?) The swamp. These were crimes of passion, not profit.

Psycho (1960)
Screenwriter(s): Joseph Stefano

"She Wouldn't Even Harm a Fly" Speech

Top Pick

Play clip (excerpt): Psycho

In his jail cell, blanket-wrapped Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, but "Mother's" voice supplied by Virginia Gregg) offered his final internal thoughts after being overtaken by Mother, in voice-over. The voice of "Mother" spoke in Norman's head, and condemned her son for the crimes, while she claimed that she was harmless:

It's sad when a Mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son, but I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad and in the end, he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man, as if I could do anything except just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds.

Oh, they know I can't even move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even gonna swat that fly. I hope they are watching. They'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, 'Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly.'

Best Film Speeches and Monologues
(chronological, by film title)
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