Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


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

Breaking Away (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Steve Tesich

"Somethin' Else I Never Got the Chance to Be"

19 year-old recent high school grad Mike (Dennis Quaid), an ex-star quarterback and now a "cutter" (son of a quarry worker) in the town of Bloomington, Indiana, facing an uncertain future as a 'have-not,' while battling the local rich college jocks at Indiana University:

You know, I used to think I was a really great quarterback in high school. Still think so, too. Can't even bring myself to light a cigarette 'cause I keep thinkin' I gotta stay in shape. You know what really gets me, though? I mean, here I am, I gotta live in this stinkin' town, and I gotta read in the newspapers about some hot-shot kid, new star of the college team. Every year, it's gonna be a new one. Every year it's never gonna be me. I'm just gonna be Mike. Twenty year-old Mike. Thirty year-old Mike. Old, mean old man Mike. These college kids out here - they're never gonna get old or out of shape 'cause new ones come along every year. And they're gonna keep calling us 'Cutters'. To them, it's just a dirty word. To me, it's just somethin' else I never got a chance to be.

The Great Santini (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Lewis John Carlino

"This Is the Eye of the Storm"

Marine officer and training commander Lt. Col. Wilbur "Bull" Meechum (aka The Great Santini) (Robert Duvall) welcomed a classroom of new trainees in the Marine Corps Pilot program:

Good Morning. You men now have the privilege of serving under the meanest, toughest, screamingest squadron commander in the Marine Corps. ME!

Now, I don't want you to consider me as just your commanding officer. I want you to look on me like I was, well - God. If I say something, you pretend it's coming from the burning bush. Now, we're members of the proudest, most elite group of fighting men in the history of the world. We are Marines! Marines Corps fighter pilots! We have no other function. That is our mission and you are either gonna hack it or pack it. Do you read me?

Within thirty days, I am gonna lead the toughest, flyingest sons-of-bitches in the world. The 312 Werewolf Squadron will make history, or it will die trying. Now, you're flyin' with Bull Meecham now, and I kid you not, this is the eye of the storm.

Welcome aboard.

The Jerk (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Steve Martin, Carl Gottlieb, Michael Elias

"That's All I Need"

Top Pick

Play clip (excerpt): The Jerk - 1979

The dim-witted, long drawn-out bumbling of the 'jerk' Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin) about keeping some trivial possessions in his "That's All I Need" speech to Marie Kimble Johnson (Bernadette Peters):

Well, I'm gonna go then. And I don't need any of this! I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. I don't need anything - except this (referring to an ashtray), this ashtray, and that's the only thing I need, is this. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need, too. I don't need one other thing, not one - I need this! The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure.

Well, what are you looking at? What do you think I am, some kind of a jerk or something? And this! And that's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair...I don't need one other thing, except my dog (the dog growled at him) I don't need my dog.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Robert Benton

Arguing to Have Custody of Son

Separated husband and nurturing father Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) made an eloquent and heart-felt court plea - it was the defense of his right to have custody of son Billy (Justin Henry) over his estranged ex-wife Joanna (Meryl Streep), and his admission that he was not a perfect parent:

There's a lot of things I didn't understand, a lot of things I'd do different if I could. Just like I think there's a lot of things you wish you could change, but we can't. Some things once they're done can't be undone. My wife, my ex-wife, says that she loves Billy, and I believe she does, but I don't think that's the issue here.

If I understand it correctly, what means the most here is what's best for our son. What's best for Billy. My wife used to always say to me: 'Why can't a woman have the same ambitions as a man?' I think you're right. And maybe I've learned that much. But by the same token, I'd like to know, what law is it that says that a woman is a better parent simply by virtue of her sex? You know, I've had a lot of time to think about what it is that makes somebody a good parent? You know, it has to do with constancy, it has to do with patience, it has to do with listening to him. It has to do with pretending to listen to him when you can't even listen anymore. It has to do with love, like, like, like she was saying. And I don't know where it's written that it says that a woman has a corner on that market, that, that a man has any less of those emotions than a woman does.

Billy has a home with me. I've made it the best I could. It's not perfect. I'm not a perfect parent. Sometimes I don't have enough patience because I forget that he's a little kid. But I'm there. We get up in the morning and then we eat breakfast, and he talks to me and then we go to school. And at night, we have dinner together and we talk then and I read to him. And, and we built a life together and we love each other. If you destroy that, it may be irreparable. Joanna, don't do that, please. Don't do it twice to him.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Robert Benton

Joanna's Change of Heart

In the ground-floor marble-tiled lobby of their apartment building, in the film's concluding scene, Joanna (Meryl Streep) met with former husband Ted (Dustin Hoffman) after winning custody of their child in a difficult divorce settlement and was about to take him away. But she decided that their son Billy should remain with him in his true home:

I woke up this morning, kept thinking about Billy and I-I was thinking about him waking up in his room with his little clouds all around that I painted. And I thought I should have painted clouds downtown, because then he would think that he was waking up at home. I came here to take my son home. And I realized he already is home.

Oh, I love him very much. (They hugged) I'm not gonna take him with me. Can I go and talk to him?...

Ted suggested that Joanna should go up in the elevator by herself and see Billy, and he would wait downstairs. She asked him just before the elevator doors closed, after wiping the tears from her eyes: "How do I look?" He responded: "You look terrific."

Manhattan (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman

Struggling to Write a Novel

Play clip (excerpt): Manhattan (1979)

Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) narrated about his failed attempts at writing, as he struggled to find the perfect opening for his new novel:

'Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion.' Uh, no, make that: 'He-he romanticized it all out of proportion.' Better. 'To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.' Uh, no, let me start this over...

'Chapter One: He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. He thrived on the hustle bustle of the crowds and the traffic. To him, New York meant beautiful women and street smart guys who seemed to know all the angles.' Ah, corny, too corny for, you know, my taste. Let me, let me try and make it more profound...

'Chapter One: He adored New York City. To him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. The same lack of individual integrity that caused so many people to take the easy way out was rapidly turning the town of his dreams in..' No, it's gonna be too preachy, I mean, you know, let's face it, I wanna sell some books here.

'Chapter One: He adored New York City. Although to him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. How hard it was to exist in a society desensitized by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage...' Too angry. I don't wanna be angry.

'Chapter One. He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat.' Oh, I love this! 'New York was his town, and it always would be.'

Manhattan (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman

"Why Is Life Worth Living?"

Play clip (excerpt): Manhattan

Isaac (Woody Allen) thought of an idea for a new book, dictated into a tape recorder while he laid on his sofa, forcing recollections of all the things that made life for him worth living:

My idea for a short story about, uhm, people in Manhattan, who, uh, are constantly creating these real, unnecessary neurotic problems for themselves, 'cause it keeps them from dealing with more unsolvable, terrifying problems about the universe. Uhm, it's, uh, well, it has to be optimistic.

All right, why is life worth living? That's a very good question. Uhm, well, there are certain things I-I guess that make it worthwhile. Uh, like what? Okay. Uhm, for me, ah, ooh, I would say - what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing. Uh, uhmm, and Willie Mays, and uhm, uh, the Second Movement of the Jupiter Symphony. And uhm, Louis Armstrong recording Potatohead Blues. Uhm, Swedish movies, naturally, Sentimental Education by Flaubert, uh, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra. Uhm, those incredible apples and pears by Cézanne. Uh, the crabs at Sam Wo's. Uhm, Tracy's face...

Meatballs (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, Janis Allen, Harold Ramis

"It Just Doesn't Matter If We Win or We Lose"

Head summer camp counselor Tripper Harrison (Bill Murray) at Camp North Star gave a rousing motivational speech to his campers during the yearly Olympiad competition against the wealthy Camp Mohawk located across the lake. He told his demoralized campers that it didn't matter if they lost, even if they had already lost the contest 12 years in a row:

That's just the attitude we don't need. Sure, Mohawk has beaten us twelve years in a row. Sure, they're terrific athletes. They've got the best equipment that money can buy. Hell, every team they're sending over here has their own personal masseuse, not masseur, masseuse. But it doesn't matter. Do you know that every Mohawk competitor has an electrocardiogram, blood and urine tests every 48 hours to see if there's any change in his physical condition? Do you know that they use the most sophisticated training methods from the Soviet Union, East and West Germany, and the newest Olympic power Trinidad-Tobago? But it doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter. IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER. I tell you, IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! (everyone chanting) IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! ---

And even, and even if we win, if we win, HAH! Even if we win! Even if we play so far over our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days. Even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the field. Even if every man, woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn't matter, because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk 'cause they've got all the money! It just doesn't matter if we win or we lose. IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! (all chanting) IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER. IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!...

The Muppet Movie (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Jack Burns, Jerry Juhl

Kermit Talking to Himself

The enchanting, revelatory internal dialogue Kermit the Frog (voice of Jim Henson) had with himself (or his conscience) when stranded in the desert late at night:

I didn't promise anybody anything. What do I know about Hollywood anyway? Just the dreams I got from sitting through too many double-features. [Kermit's inner self speaks in response] So why did you leave the swamp in the first place? 'Cause some agent fella said I had talent. Hmm. He probably says that to everybody. On the other hand, if you hadn't left the swamp, you'd be feeling pretty miserable anyhow. Yeah, but then it would just be me feelin' miserable. Now I got a lady pig, and a bear and a chicken, a dog, a thing -- whatever Gonzo is. He's a little like a turkey. [Kermit's inner self becomes a literal second Kermit, sitting on a rock] Yeah, a little like a turkey. But not much. No, I guess not. Anyhow, I brought 'em all out here into the middle of nowhere. It's all my fault. Still... whether you promised them something or not, you gotta remember they wanted to come. But that's because they believed in me. No, they believed in the dream. Well, so do I, but-- You do? Yeah! Of course I do. Well then? Well, then...I guess I was wrong when I said I never promised anyone. I promised me.

After the internal monologue, Kermit gave a thoughtful "Hmm" as a shooting star flew over the horizon.

The Muppet Movie (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Jack Burns, Jerry Juhl

Kermit's "I've Got a Dream"

In their last showdown - in homage to the classic western High Noon, Kermit (dressed in cowboy gear) delivered a diatribe to the persistent Doc Hopper (Charles Durning) - the owner of the Doc Hopper's French Fried Frog Leg Restaurant chain - who had a dream of owning a thousand frog-leg restaurants and putting Kermit in his TV commercials:

Hopper, what's the matter with you? You gotta be crazy chasin' me halfway across the country. Why are you doin' this to me? ...You know, well, I've got a dream too. But it's about singing and dancing and making people happy. That's the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with. And, well, I've found a whole bunch of friends who have the same dream. And, and it kind of makes us like a family. You have anybody like that, Hopper? I mean, once you get all those restaurants, who are you gonna share it with? Who are your friends, Doc? Those guys? ...I don't think you're a bad man, Doc. But I think if you look in your heart, you'll find you really want to let me and my friends go to follow our dream. But if that's not the kind of man you are and if what I'm saying doesn't make any sense to you, well, then, go ahead and kill me.

Rocky II (1979)
Screenwriter(s): Sylvester Stallone

"What I Got to Lose?"

The hospital chapel scene of Mickey (Burgess Meredith), the cantankerous manager/trainer of Philadelphia bum/fighter Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), urging his disheartened boxer-friend to train and properly prepare for his championship bout rematch against Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) on Thanksgiving 1976, although Rocky was distraught over his ailing wife Adrian (Talia Shire) and was unresponsive while she was suffering from a coma after hemorrhaging during the premature, one-month early birth of their first child, a baby son:

Well, Rocky, you got another shot. It's a second shot at the, I don't know, the biggest title in the world. And you're gonna be swapping punches with the most dangerous fighter in the world. And just in case, you know, your brain ain't workin' so good, all this happens pretty soon and you ain't ready. You're nowhere near in any shape. So I say, you know, for God's sake, why don't you stand up and fight this guy hard like you done before? That was beautiful. But don't lay down in front of him like this! Like, I don't know, like some kind of mongrel or something. 'Cause he's gonna kick your face in pieces, you know that? That's right. This guy just don't wanna win, you know. He wants to bury you, he wants to humiliate you. He wants to prove to the whole world that you was nothing but some kind of a freak the first time out. And he said you're a one-time lucky bum. Well, now, I don't, I don't wanna get mad, in a biblical place like this, but I think you're a hell of a lot more than that, kid. A hell of a lot! No, wait a minute. If you wanna blow it, if you wanna blow this thing, dammit, I'm gonna blow it with you. If you want to stay here, I'll stay with you. I'll stay with you. Yeah. I'll stay and pray. What I got to lose?

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