Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


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

Shock Corridor (1963)
Screenwriter: Samuel Fuller

An Incendiary "America for Americans" Rant, Delivered by an African-American!

Writer/director Samuel Fuller's raw B-movie was a psycho-drama with shocking, exploitative subject matter (xenophobia, racism, hate and violence). It used the setting of a madhouse as a harsh commentary upon Cold War America.

One of the inmates in the mental institution, Trent (Hari Rhodes) - was originally a black civil rights pioneer (he had been the first Negro student to integrate into a Southern university: "a guinea pig in a classroom"), but now crazily carried a sign: ("Integration And Democracy Don't Mix"). He was suffering delusions- he believed that he was the white supremacist, Grand Wizard founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

Believing that he was the Klan leader - he stood on a bench in the asylum's corridor and delivered an incendiary hate-filled, racist rant about returning 'America to Americans' to a group of patients:

"If Christ walked the streets of my hometown, he'd be horrified. You've never seen so many black people cluttering up our schools and buses and cafes and washrooms! I'm for pure Americanism! White supremacy! Listen to me, Americans. America for Americans. We got to throw rocks and hurl bombs. Black bombs for black foreigners. So they like hot music, do they? Well, we'll give them a crescendo they'll never forget. Burn that freedom bus. Burn those freedom riders! Burn any man who serves them at a lunch counter. Burn every dirty, nigger-lovin' pocketbook integrationist! Collect a lot of blackjacks and good long lengths of pipe. We'll show those rabble-rousers they can't breathe our white air, and go to school with our white children. We'll get some infallible liquid and pour it on 'em. We'll pour it on their homes and burn 'em. Pour it on their pickaninnies and set them on fire. Call out the members of the White Citizens Council. Call out the KKK! Yes, we'll sponsor the Africans north! Get rid of every black mother, son and daughter! America for Americans...Keep our schools white!...I'm against Catholics!...Against Jews!...Against niggers!...Against niggers!...Against niggers!..."

At the end of his speech, Trent (with the pillow case with eye-slits on his head) fomented a chase after another black patient-inmate by pointing him out:

"There's one! Let's get that black boy before he marries my daughter!"

He caused a full-scale riot when the group joined him and attacked.

The Americanization of Emily (1964)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

Debunking the Anti-American Prejudices of a European

Charming, scheming American Navy officer, Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison (James Garner), a "dog-robber" instructed to make sure the generals were supplied (with everything from Hershey bars to Cokes), spoke to British motor-pool ambulance driver Miss Emily Barham (Julie Andrews) about her anti-American prejudices (what he termed: "sentimental contempt"):

You American-haters bore me to tears, Miss Barham. I've dealt with Europeans all my life. I know all about us parvenus from the States who come over here and race around your old cathedral towns with our cameras and Coca-Cola bottles... Brawl in your pubs, paw your women, and act like we own the world. We over-tip. We talk too loud. We think we can buy anything with a Hershey bar.

I've had Germans and Italians tell me how politically ingenuous we are. And perhaps so. But we haven't managed a Hitler or Mussolini yet. I've had Frenchmen call me a savage because I only took half an hour for lunch. Hell, Miss Barham, the only reason the French take two hours for lunch is because the service in their restaurants is lousy. The most tedious lot are you British. We crass Americans didn't introduce war into your little island. This war, Miss Barham, to which we Americans are so insensitive, is the result of 2,000 years of European greed, barbarism, superstition, and stupidity. Don't blame it on our Coca-Cola bottles. Europe was a going brothel long before we came to town.

Thinking he was "a complete rascal," she responded: "Dear me, what an outburst!" He quipped: "So lay off, Mrs. Miniver. If you don't like our Hershey bars, don't take 'em."

The Americanization of Emily (1964)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

In Praise of Cowardice, and Against the Sentimentality of the Virtues of War

To Emily's mother Mrs. Barham (Joyce Grenfell), Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Madison (James Garner), described how he had a "blinding revelation" in the jungles of Guadalcanal that he was a coward:

I discovered I was a coward. That's my new religion. I'm a big believer in it. Cowardice will save the world. It's not war that's insane, you see. It's the morality of it. It's not greed or ambition that makes wars. It's goodness. Wars are always fought for the best of reasons: for liberation or manifest destiny - always against tyranny and always in the interest of humanity. So far this war, we've managed to butcher some 10,000,000 humans in the interest of humanity. Next war, it seems we'll have to destroy all of man in order to preserve his damn dignity. It's not war that's unnatural to us. It's virtue. As long as valor remains a virtue, we shall have soldiers. So, I preach cowardice. Through cowardice, we shall all be saved...

Mrs. Barham responded: "and after this, I'm sure all the generals will dash off and write books about the blunders made by other generals and statesmen will publish their secret diaries and it'll show beyond any shadow of doubt that war could easily have been avoided in the first place. And the rest of us, of course, will be left with the job of bandaging the wounded and burying the dead."

I don't trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It's always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a hell it is. It's always the war widows who lead the Memorial Day parades....

We shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogeys. It's the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers. The rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widow's weeds like nuns, Mrs. Barham, and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices. My brother died at Anzio...Yes. An everyday soldier's death, no special heroism involved. They buried what pieces they found of him. But my mother insists he died a brave death and pretends to be very proud...

Now my other brother can't wait to reach enlistment age. That'll be in September...Maybe ministers and generals who blunder us into wars, Mrs. Barham, the least the rest of us can do is to resist honoring the institution. What has my mother got for pretending bravery was admirable? She's under constant sedation and terrified she may wake up one morning and find her last son has run off to be brave.

Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, US/UK)
Screenwriter(s): Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George

Ultra-Patriotic Glory Pep Talk

After receiving instructions to bomb a target in the USSR, Major T. J. "King" Kong (Slim Pickens) exclaimed that they were going to have "nuclear combat" with the Russians, as he donned his ten-gallon hat:

Well, boys, I reckon this is it. Nuclear (pronounced 'nookular') combat, toe-to-toe with the Rooskies...

To the tune of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," he then delivered a memorable patriotic speech over the intercom to his B-52 crew - a parody of the totally-loyal American sent on a glory mission:

Now look, boys. I ain't much of a hand at makin' speeches. But I got a pretty fair idea that somethin' doggone important is goin' on back there. And I got a fair idea of the kind of personal emotions that some of you fellas may be thinkin'. Heck, I reckon you wouldn't even be human beins if you didn't have some pretty strong personal feelings about nuclear combat.

I want you to remember one thing: the folks back home is a-countin' on ya, and by golly, we ain't about to let 'em down. Tell ya somethin' else. If this thing turns out to be half as important as I figure it just might be, I'd say that you're all in line for some important promotions an' personal citations when this thing's over with. That goes for every last one of ya, regardless of your race, color, or your creed. Now, let's get this thing on the hump. We got some flyin' to do.

Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, US/UK)
Screenwriter(s): Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George

An Insane Description of "Your Commie"

At an alerted Burpelson Air Force Base, insane Air Force General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) used the PA system from his desk with his cigar in one hand and the phallic-looking microphone in the other. He paranoically proclaimed the Red Alert to grim-faced guards and soldiers. After specifying three simple rules, he then concluded with words of encouragement and enforced loyalty:

Your Commie has no regard for human life, not even his own. And for this reason, men, I want to impress upon you the need for extreme watchfulness. The enemy may come individually, or he may come in strength. He may even come in the uniform of our own troops. But however he comes, we must stop him. We must not allow him to gain entrance to this base.

Now, I am going to give you three simple rules: First, Trust no one, whatever his uniform or rank unless he is known to you personally. Second, anyone or anything that approaches within 200 yards of the perimeter is to be fired upon. Third, if in doubt, shoot first and ask questions afterwards. I would sooner accept a few casualties through accident than lose the entire base and its personnel through carelessness. Any variation on these rules must come from me personally. Now men, in conclusion, I would like to say, that in the two years that it has been my privilege to be your commanding officer, I have always expected the best from you, and you have never given me anything less than that. Today, the nation is counting on us. We are not going to let them down. Good luck to you all.

Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, US/UK)
Screenwriter(s): Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George

"I'm Not Saying We Wouldn't Get Our Hair Mussed"

In the War Room, General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) gleefully rattled off a number of factors to President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) and other officials once US planes had been dispatched. After predicting that the US might "suffer virtual annihilation," he pointed to the only remaining action he felt would be effective - attack with an all-out nuclear offensive war against the Russians before they could retaliate:

One: Our hopes for recalling the 843rd Bomb Wing are quickly being reduced to a very low order of probability. Two: In less than fifteen minutes from now, the Russkies will be making radar contact with the planes. Three: When they do, they are gonna go absolutely ape and they're gonna strike back with everything they've got. Four: If, prior to this time, we have done nothing further to suppress their retaliatory capabilities, we will suffer virtual annihilation.

Now, Five: If, on the other hand, we were to immediately launch an all-out and coordinated attack on all their airfields and missile bases, we'd stand a damn good chance of catchin' 'em with their pants down. Hell, we've got a five-to-one missile superiority as it is. We could easily assign three missiles to every target and still have a very effective reserve force for any other contingency. Now, Six: An unofficial study [he rifled through a binder entitled World Targets in Megadeaths], which we undertook of this eventuality, indicated that we would destroy 90% of their nuclear capabilities. We would therefore prevail and suffer only modest and acceptable civilian casualties from the remaining force which would be badly damaged and uncoordinated.

Then, to cover his butt military-style, Turgidson presented the President with an impossible choice between the lesser of two evils, a reinforced or a non-reinforced attack:

Mr. President, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing. But it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless, distinguishable post-war environments. One, where you got 20 million people killed; and the other where you got 150 million people killed...Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed. Tops! Uh, depending on the breaks.

Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, US/UK)
Screenwriter(s): Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George

Checking A Survival Kit

Major Kong (Slim Pickens) checked the contents of his survival kit with his crew on board the B-52, including condoms, and items to barter with Russian women, to the tune of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home":

Survival kit contents check. In them you will find one .45 caliber automatic, two boxes of ammunition, four days concentrated emergency rations, one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleepin' pills, tranquilizer pills, one miniature combination Russian (pronounced 'Rooshan') phrase book and Bible, $100 dollars in rubles, $100 dollars in gold, nine packs of chewin' gum, one issue of prophylactics, three lipsticks, three pair of nylon stockin's. Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

[Note: Originally the ending sentence was: "Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good time in Dallas with all that stuff" - the line was relooped in respect for Kennedy's assassination in Dallas.]

Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, US/UK)
Screenwriter(s): Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George

US President's Telephone Conversation with the Soviet Leader During a Nuclear Attack

President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) conducted a telephone conversation with drunken Soviet leader Dmitri Kissov (always off-camera) about a pre-emptive US nuclear strike. In a brilliant, memorable monologue, the self-assured President had difficulty getting to the point while describing the critical state of affairs in a delicate way. He spoke to the Premier as if he were placating a juvenile:

Hello? Uh, hello? Hello, Dmitri? Listen, I can't hear too well, do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little? A-ha, that's much better. Yeah, yes. Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri. Clear and plain and coming through fine. I'm coming through fine too, eh? Good, then. Well then, as you say, we're both coming through fine. Good. Well, it's good that you're fine, and - and I'm fine. I agree with you. It's great to be fine. (Laughs)

Now then, Dmitri, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb. The BOMB, Dmitri. The hydrogen bomb. Well now, what happened is, uh, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of - Well, he went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little funny. And uh, he went and did a silly thing.

Well, I'll tell you what he did. He ordered his attack your country.

Well, let me finish, Dmitri. Let me finish, Dmitri. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dmitri? Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?

Of course I like to speak to you! Of course I like to say hello! Not now, but any time, Dmitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened.

It's a friendly call. Of course, it's a friendly call. Listen, if it wasn't friendly, you probably wouldn't have even got it. They will not reach their targets for at least another hour. I am, I am positive, Dmitri. Listen, I've been all over this with your Ambassador. It is not a trick. Well, I'll tell you. We'd like to give your Air Staff a complete rundown on the targets, the flight plans, and the defensive systems of the planes.

Yes, I mean, if-if we're unable to recall the planes, then, I'd say that, uh, well, uh, we're just gonna have to help you destroy them, Dmitri. I know they're our boys. All right, well listen, now, who should we call? Who should we call, Dmitri? The what, the People, you, sorry, you faded away there. The People's Central Air Defense Headquarters. Where is that, Dmitri? In Omsk. Right. Yes. Oh, you'll call them first, will you? Uh, huh. Listen, do you happen to have the phone number on you, Dmitri? What? I see. Just ask for Omsk information.

I'm sorry too, Dmitri. I'm very sorry. All right, you're sorrier than I am. But I am sorry as well. I am as sorry as you are, Dmitri. Don't say that you're the more sorry than I am because I am capable of being just as sorry as you are. So we're both sorry, all right? All right.

Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, US/UK)
Screenwriter(s): Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George

Insane Talk About Fluoridation and One's Life Essence

Play clip (excerpt): Dr. Strangelove

Early in the film, insane Air Force General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) in his office at Burpelson Air Force Base expressed suspicions to petty officer Group Captain Mandrake (Peter Sellers) that the Communists had conspired and polluted the "precious bodily fluids" of the American people. A total madman with John Wayne machismo in his locked office, Ripper feared the degradation of his bodily fluids:

I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

Later, while General Ripper exchanged gunfire with attacking troops, he continued his discussion about his concerns with fluoridation while Mandrake was feeding the machine gun:

Mandrake, do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk, ice cream? Ice cream, Mandrake? Children's ice cream!...You know when fluoridation first began?...1946. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That's the way a hard-core Commie works.

He first developed his theory and became aware of the international Communist plot during a strenuous bout of physical love-making in which he felt sexual anxiety. He blamed his male impotency and sexual inadequacy on the Russian conspiracy. From then on, he hoarded his bodily fluids (his "life essence") - and kept them for himself:

I-I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love...Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I-I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women, er, women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake. But I do deny them my essence.

Lilith (1964)
Screenwriter(s): Robert Rossen, Robert Alan Aurthur (uncredited)

Schizophrenia and Spiders -- "They Have Been Destroyed...By Their Own Excellence"

The head of Poplar Lodge institution (an insane asylum), Dr. Lavrier (James Patterson), admired and described the "extraordinary" abilities of schizophrenics to his staff during an expository lecture - although genuises, he claimed that the patients were often unable to cope in the real world.

He said that schizophrenics usually had "seen too much with too fine an instrument." His words applied to beautiful, nymphomaniacal, corrupted schizophrenic patient Lilith Arthur (Jean Seberg) in the Maryland sanitarium - whose seductively mad pursuit of love was limitless and often dangerous.

His speech was illustrated by comparing a normal spider web with an asymmetrical one in projected slides:

So many of these people have such extraordinary minds. Such extraordinary sensibilities. Too extraordinary, I think, sometimes. This is not a scientific theory. Maybe it's romantic, but I often compare them to fine crystal which has been shattered by the shock of some intolerable revelation. I often have the feeling when I talk with them, that they have seen too much with too fine an instrument. That they have been close to some extreme, to something absolute and been blasted by it. That they have been destroyed, one might say, by their own excellence. Regarded in this way, they are the heroes of the universe. Its finest product and its noblest casualty.

Schizophrenia, however, is far from being an exclusive affliction of the superior mind. As a matter of fact, by using a substance from the blood of humans, schizophrenia has been induced in dogs, spiders, as well as men. As you will note, the web of most 'normal' spider species is as distinctive and invariable as their coloring. But the 'mad' ones spin out fantastic, asymmetrical, and rather nightmarish designs. A most unsettling fact.

The Pawnbroker (1964)
Screenwriter(s): Morton S. Fine, David Friedkin

The Reason for Jewish Business Acumen: A Little Brain and a Great Bearded Legend

Embittered Jewish pawnbroker Sol Nazerman (Rod Steiger) in East Harlem, survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, was asked by young Puerto Rican Jesus Ortiz (Jaime Sanchez), his shop assistant, about Jewish business success: "So how come you people come to business so natural." Sol explained, becoming increasingly more angry and raising his voice:

You people? Oh, I see. Yeah. I see. I see, you, uh, you want to learn the secret of our success, is that right? All right, I teach you. First of all, you start off with a period of several thousand years, during which you have nothing to sustain you but a great bearded legend. Oh my friend, you have, uh, no land to call your own, to grow food on or to hunt. You have nothing. You're never in one place long enough to have a geography or an army or a land myth. All you have is a little brain. A little brain and a great bearded legend to sustain you and convince you that you are special, even in poverty. But this, uh, this little brain, that's the real key, you see.

With this little brain, you go out and you buy a piece of cloth, and you cut that cloth in two and you go out and sell it for a penny more than you paid for it. Then you run right out and buy another piece of cloth, cut it into three pieces and sell it for three pennies profit. But, my friend, during that time, you must never succumb to buying an extra piece of bread for the table or a toy for a child, no. You must immediately run out and get yourself a still larger piece of cloth and so you repeat this process over and over. And suddenly you discover something. You have no longer any desire, any temptation to dig into the Earth to grow food or to gaze at a limitless land and call it your own, no, no.

You just go on and on and on repeating this process over the centuries, over and over, and suddenly you make a grand discovery. You have a mercantile heritage! You are a merchant. You are known as a usurer, a man with secret resources, a witch, a pawnbroker, a sheenie, a makie and a kike!

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