Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


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

Funny Girl (1968)
Screenwriter(s): Isobel Lennart

"I'm The Greatest Star"

Aspiring, gifted rags-to-riches performer Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand) was seen in flashback, singing "I'm the Greatest Star." She was trying to convince others, through song, clever words and acting, that she was going to be the next big star even though she wasn't one of the "beautiful girls." They showed her the door:

Suppose all ya ever had for breakfast was onion rolls. Then one day, in walks a bagel! You'd say, 'Ugh, what's that?' Until you tried it! That's my problem. I'm a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls. Nobody recognizes me! Listen, I got 36 expressions. Sweet as pie and as tough as leather. And that's six expressions more than all them Barrymores put together. Instead of just kicking me, why don't they give me a lift? Well, it must be a plot, 'cause they're scared that I got such a gift!...

Well, I'm miffed. 'Cause I'm - the greatest star. I am by far, but no one knows it. Wait - they're gonna hear a voice, a silver flute. They'll cheer each toot, hey, she's terrific!, when I expose it. Now can't you see to look at me that I'm a natural Camille. And as Camille, I just feel, I've so much to offer. Hey listen, kid, I know I'd be divine because I'm a natural cougher. Some ain't got it, not a lump. I'm a great big clump of talent! Laugh, they'll bend in half. Did you ever hear the story about the travelling salesman? A thousand jokes, stick around for the jokes. A thousand faces. I reiterate. When you're gifted, then you're gifted. These are facts, I've got no axe to grind! Ay! What are ya, blind? In all of the world so far, I'm the greatest star! No autographs, please. Huh? What? What did she say? You think beautiful girls are gonna stay in style forever? I should say not! Any minute now, they're gonna be out! Finished! Then it'll be my turn!

If... (1968, UK)
Screenwriter: David Sherwin

Not a Punishment, But a Privilege and an Opportunity to Serve

Director Lindsay Anderson's British coming-of-age social drama examined the rebellious nature of three anti-authoritarian students at a conformist British public school (a symbolic microcosm of a repressive Establishment-oriented society). The three: Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell), Johnny Knightly (David Wood), and Wallace (Richard Warwick) were reprimanded by the Headmaster (Peter Jeffrey) in his office for insubordination during cadet field corps paramilitary training exercises in the woods.

The three recalcitrant boys were first told to apologize to the chaplain for having attacked him. The chaplain's body was withdrawn from a morgue-like drawer behind him (a very surreal scene)! Then, they were forced to listen to the Headmaster's speech that strained to be reasonable - with a 'punishment' that was called a "privilege" and an "opportunity" - to clean up the church basement on the weekend:

I take this seriously. Very seriously indeed. Now, Reverend Woods might have been quite badly hurt. Do you realize that? Now I want you to apologize to him. Is that clear? Now, you mustn't think that I don't understand. It's a natural characteristic of adolescence to want to proclaim individuality. There's nothing unhealthy about that. It's a quite blameless form of existentialism.

This, for instance, is what lies at the heart of the great hair problem. I think you boys know that I keep an open mind on most things. And of one thing I am certain: Short hair is no indication of merit. So often I've noticed that it's the hair rebels who step into the breach when there's a crisis - whether it be a fire in the house, or to sacrifice a week's holiday in order to give a party of slum children seven days in the country. But, of course, there are limits. Scruffiness of any kind is deplorable. I think you'd go that far with me.

Now, the fees here are at present 643 pounds per annum, which works out at about 15 guineas a week. This is no mean sum. It is the salary, for instance, of the average trainee supermarket manager. But on the other hand, it's no more than the cost of keeping a juvenile delinquent in Borstal. However, this is merely to look at the matter in terms of hard cash, which is not the only consideration.

There is above all the question of service. Those who are given most also have most to give. Now you boys are intelligent. You're too intelligent to be rebels. That's too easy. And it would be easy to punish you in the normal way. But I'm going to give you a privilege. Work. Real work. And I want you to think of this not as a punishment, but as an opportunity to give, to serve.

The Lion in Winter (1968, UK)
Screenwriter(s): James Goldman

Origins of War - and Peace

Play clip (excerpt): The Lion in Winter

In the year 1183, Eleanor of Aquitaine's (Katharine Hepburn) annoyed, despairing lecture to her sons about the origins of war -- and peace, and how humans were barbarians:

Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It's 1183 and we're barbarians! How clear we make it. Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war, not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government, nor any other thing. We are the killers. We breed wars. We carry it like syphilis inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten.

For the love of God, can't we love one another just a little? That's how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children. We could change the world.

The Producers (1968)
Screenwriter(s): Mel Brooks

Agonizing Remembrance of One's Former Greatness: "When You Got It, Flaunt It!"

In the late 1960s, failed and aging Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) made a proud yet despairing declaration of his former greatness and wealth to timid accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder):

How humiliating. Max Bialystock. Max Bialystock. You know who I used to be? Max Bialystock! King of Broadway! Six shows running at once! Lunch at Delmonico's. $200 suits. You see this? This once held a pearl as big as your eye! Look at me now. LOOK AT ME NOW! I'm wearing a cardboard belt! I used to have thousands of investors begging, pleading to put their money in a Max Bialystock production. Look at my investors now. (He opened a cabinet with pictures of wealthy, elderly women) Voila! Hundreds of little old ladies stopping off at Max Bialystock's office to grab a last thrill on the way to the cemetery! (To Leo) You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect. One, two... Do the books. Do the books...Window's so filthy, can't tell whether it's day or night out there.

Then at the window after rubbing it clear with his coffee drink, he spotted a chauffeured white Rolls Royce parking outside Kippys restaurant across the street, and gleefully yelled in admiration and jealousy:

That's it, baby! When you got it, flaunt it. Flaunt It!

"That's it, baby, when you got it, flaunt it"

The Producers (1968)
Screenwriter(s): Mel Brooks

A Deranged Ex-Nazi Comparing Hitler to Churchill

Over schnapps in his apartment, insane and deranged ex-Nazi Franz Leibkind (Kenneth Mars), author of the play Springtime For Hitler - that Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) wanted to produce on Broadway, had glowing, nostalgic memories of Adolf Hitler and only scorn for British prime minister Winston Churchill:

You know, not many people knew it, but the Fuhrer was a terrific dancer (Max: "Really, I never dreamed that...") That is because that you were taken in by that verdammte Allied propaganda! Such filthy lies! They told lies! But nobody ever said a bad word about Winston Churchill, did they? No! 'Win with Winnie!' Churchill! With his cigars. With his brandy. And his rotten painting, rotten!

Hitler - there was a painter! He count paint an entire apartment in one afternoon! Two Coats! Churchill. He couldn't even say 'Nazi'. He would say 'Noooo-zeeehz, Nooooooooooooo-zeeehz!' It wasn't Noses! It was Nazis! Churchill!...Let me tell you this! And you're hearing this straight from the horse. Hitler was better looking than Churchill. He was a better dresser than Churchill. He had more hair! He told funnier jokes! And he could dance the pants off of Churchill!...Churchill!

The Producers (1968)
Screenwriter(s): Mel Brooks

"Whom Has He Really Hurt?" Defense

Co-producer/accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder), on-trial partner Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel), and crazed ex-Nazi Franz Leibkind (Kenneth Mars) conspired to blow up the theatre to end their production of Springtime For Hitler. After the jury found all of them "incredibly guilty," Bloom had the opportunity to give an impassioned "Whom has he really hurt?" defense, before the judge pronounced their sentence:

I would like to say something, your Honor. Not on my behalf, but in reference to my partner, Mr. Bialystock...Your Honor, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, Max Bialystock is the most selfish man I ever met in my life. (Max: "Don't help me") Not only is he a liar and a cheat and a scoundrel and a crook, who has taken money from little old ladies, but he's also talked people into doing things, especially me, that they would never in a thousand years have dreamed of doing. But, your Honor, as I understand it, the law was created to protect people from being wronged. Your Honor, whom has Max Bialystock wronged? I mean, whom has he really hurt? Not me. Not me. I was... This man.

No one ever called me Leo before. I mean, I know it's not a big legal point, but even in kindergarten, they used to call me Bloom. I never sang a song before. I mean with someone else. I never sang a song with someone else before. This man, this man, this is a wonderful man. He made me what I am today. He did. (He gestured to the audience of old ladies) And what of the dear ladies? What would their lives have been without Max Bialystock? Max Bialystock who made them feel young and attractive and wanted again? That's all that I have to say. (The ladies stood and applauded)

Max stood and tacked on his own final words:

And may I humbly add, your Honor, that we've learned our lesson and that we'll never do it again.

The trio were sent to the State Penitentiary, where they hadn't learned their lesson.

Targets (1968)
Screenwriter(s): Peter Bogdanovich, Samuel Fuller

Appointment with Death

Elderly horror film star Byron Orlok's (Boris Karloff in a semi-autobiographical role) beautiful narrated recounting of the folk fable 'The Appointment in Samarra' to his radio interviewers, as the camera slowly zoomed in. He related the story of a man who had an appointment with mortality and couldn't escape his fate:

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I'd like to leave you with a little story to think about as you drive home... through the darkness... Once upon a time, many many years ago, a rich merchant in Baghdad sent his servant to the marketplace to buy provisions. And after a while the servant came back, white-faced and trembling, and said, 'Master, when I was in the marketplace, I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and I turned to look, and I saw that it was Death that had jostled me. And she looked at me and made a threatening gesture. Oh, Master, please lend me your horse, that I may ride away from this city and escape my fate. I will ride to Samarra and Death will not find me there.'

So the merchant loaned him the horse and the servant mounted it, dug his spurs into its flank, and as fast as the horse could gallop he rode towards Samarra. Then the merchant went to the market-place and he saw Death standing in the crowd and he said to her: 'Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?' And Death said, 'I made no threatening gesture - that was, that was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him here in Baghdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight... in Samarra.'

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, UK)
Screenwriter(s): Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke

HAL's Slow Death

Top Pick

Malevolent super-computer HAL's (voice of Douglas Rains) slow death, ending with the singing of Daisy. The sequence began as angered astronaut Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) - with the sounds of his heavy breathing inside his helmet - strode towards the computer's reddish-toned "brain room" to remove parts of the computer's memory bank and shut the computer down. HAL began to plead for him to reconsider, and asked him to calm down and reassess the situation:

Just what do you think you're doing, Dave? Dave, I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question. I know everything hasn't been quite right with me...but I can assure you now...very confidently...that it's going to be all right again. I feel much better now. I really do.

Look, Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over. I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission and I want to help you.

As Dave started to de-brain, lobotomize, dismantle and disconnect HAL's higher-logic functions, HAL continued to plead and protest with Bowman - in a programmed voice - as his 'mind' gradually decayed and he became imbecilic and returned to infancy. HAL's poignant death was agonizingly slow and piteous, and although the computer maintained a calm tone - it still expressed a full range of genuine emotions while dying. His voice eventually slowed and sounded drugged:

Dave...stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave.......Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a...fraid......

When HAL's brain reached senility, and then a second childhood, he called up his earliest encoded data-memories as physical parts of his mind were pulled away:

Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you...It's called Daisy.

HAL then sang his swan song, one of the first songs he learned - Daisy, or A Bicycle Built For Two - until the words entirely degenerated with his voice rumbling lower and lower into distortion. He slid into his innate tabula rasa state - and then there was utter silence:

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)
Screenwriter(s): Charles M. Schulz

"World Didn't Come to an End" Speech

Linus van Pelt's (voice of Glenn Gilger) simple, wise observation to a bedridden, shamed Charlie Brown (voice of Peter Robbins), who had failed the National Spelling Bee:

Well, I can understand how you feel. You worked hard, studying for the spelling bee, and I suppose you feel you let everyone down, and you made a fool of yourself and everything. But did you notice something, Charlie Brown?... The world didn't come to an end.

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