Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


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

Citizen Kane (1941)
Screenwriter(s): Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles

"News on the March" Opening Narration

The famous fictional newsreel News on the March opening that chronicled the complete life of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) following his death in the opening "Rosebud" scene:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree - - Legendary was the Xanadu where Kubla Khan decreed his stately pleasure dome. Today, almost as legendary is Florida's Xanadu, world's largest private pleasure ground. Here, on the deserts of the Gulf Coast, a private mountain was commissioned and successfully built. One hundred thousand trees, twenty thousand tons of marble are the ingredients of Xanadu's mountain. Contents of Xanadu's palace: paintings, pictures, statues, the very stones of many another palace. A collection of everything. So big it can never be catalogued or appraised. Enough for ten museums - the loot of the world. Xanadu's livestock: the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea, the beast of the field and jungle. Two of each, the biggest private zoo since Noah. Like the Pharaohs, Xanadu's landlord leaves many stones to mark his grave. Since the pyramids, Xanadu is the costliest monument a man has built to himself...

(continuing later) Twice married, twice divorced. First to a president's niece, Emily Norton, who left him in 1916. Died 1918 in a motor accident with their son. Sixteen years after his first marriage, two weeks after his first divorce, Kane married Susan Alexander, singer at the Town Hall in Trenton, New Jersey. For wife two, one-time opera singing Susan Alexander, Kane built Chicago's Municipal Opera House. Cost: $3 million dollars. Conceived for Susan Alexander Kane, half-finished before she divorced him, the still-unfinished Xanadu. Cost? No man can say...

Citizen Kane (1941)
Screenwriter(s): Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles

Publisher Kane's Self-Portrait Described His Double Identity

Powerful Inquirer publisher Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) explained to Thatcher (George Coulouris) how he was really "two people" - he was both a major stockholder in the Public Transit Company (he owned "eighty-two thousand, three hundred and sixty-four shares of Public Transit Preferred"), a trust he was attacking, and the dutiful publisher of a newspaper representing the interests of the public against the trust. Kane stood up by the end of the scene, towering over Thatcher, explaining:

The trouble is, you don't realize you're talking to two people. As Charles Foster Kane, who has 82,634 shares of Public Transit Preferred. You see, I do have a general idea of my holdings. I sympathize with you. Charles Foster Kane is a scoundrel. His paper should be run out of town. A committee should be formed to boycott him. You may, if you can form such a committee, put me down for a contribution of $1,000 dollars. On the other hand, I am the publisher of the Inquirer! As such, it's my duty - and I'll let you in on a little secret, it's also my pleasure - to see to it that decent, hard-working people in this community aren't robbed blind by a pack of money-mad pirates just because - they haven't anybody to look after their interests. (Mr. Thatcher rose to get his coat and hat)

I'll let you in on another little secret, Mr. Thatcher. I think I'm the man to do it. You see, I have money and property. If I don't look after the interests of the underprivileged, maybe somebody else will. Maybe somebody without any money or property. And that would be too bad.

Thatcher reminded Kane he had seen his financial statement that his philanthropic paper enterprise was losing a million dollars a year. Kane blithely joked and grinned that "at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place - in sixty years."

You're right, Mr. Thatcher. I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place... in sixty years.

Citizen Kane (1941)
Screenwriter(s): Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles

Unforgettable Memories of a Girl in a White Dress With a Parasol

Mr. Bernstein's (Everett Sloane) sublime monologue to reporter Mr. Thompson (William Alland) when he reminisced about an unforgettable moment years earlier:

A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry. And as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in. And on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all. But I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I hadn't thought of that girl.

See also an incredibly similar speech in Indecent Proposal (1993) by Robert Redford.

Citizen Kane (1941)
Screenwriter(s): Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles

Speech to Executives on the Inquirer's Success

Top Pick

Play clip (excerpt): Citizen Kane - 1941

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) gave a speech to his newspaper's executives:

Six years ago, I looked at a picture of the world's greatest newspaper men. I felt like a kid in front of a candy store. Well, tonight, six years later, I got my candy -- all of it. Welcome, gentlemen, to the Inquirer! Make up an extra copy of that picture and send it to the Chronicle, will you please? It'll make you all happy to learn that our circulation this morning was the greatest in New York, 684,000.

(Mr. Bernstein: "Six hundred and eighty-four thousand one hundred and thirty-two!")

Right! Having thus welcomed you, I hope you'll forgive my rudeness in taking leave of you. I'm going abroad next week for a vacation. I've promised my doctor for some time now that I'd leave when I could, and I now realize that I can't.

(Mr. Bernstein: "Say, Mr. Kane, as long as you're promising, there's a lot of pictures and statues in Europe you haven't bought yet.")

You can't blame me, Mr. Bernstein. They've been making statues for two thousand years, and I've only been buying for five.

(Mr. Bernstein: "Promise me, Mr. Kane.")

I promise you, Mr. Bernstein.

(Mr. Bernstein: "Thank you.")

Mr. Bernstein?...You don't expect me to keep any of those promises, do you?

Citizen Kane (1941)
Screenwriter(s): Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles

Contradicting Kane's Arrogant and Eccentric Philosophy: "You Want Love On Your Own Terms"

After Kane (Orson Welles) ran for political office (governor) and lost to Jim Gettys (Ray Collins), he reflected on his loss (when his scandalous affair was publicized) in his empty campaign headquarters. Drunken ex-supporter/employee Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten) confronted and accused him of being a self-serving egomaniac - patronizing in his political/civic relationships with his readership (and in his personal relationships). Leland was disillusioned and disgusted by Kane's arrogance in assuming that the people would vote for him despite the scandal:

You talk about the people as though you owned them. As though they belong to you. Goodness. As long as I can remember, you've talked about giving the people their rights, as if you can make them a present of Liberty, as a reward for services rendered...You remember the working man?

When Kane suggested getting drunk with him, Leland replied:

Aw, it won't do any good. Besides, you never get drunk. You used to write an awful lot about the workingman...He's turning into something called organized labor. You're not gonna like that one little bit when you find out it means that your workingman expects something is his right, not as your gift! Charlie, when your precious underprivileged really get together, oh boy! That's gonna add up to something bigger than your privileges! Then I don't know what you'll do! Sail away to a desert island probably, and lord it over the monkeys!...(sneering) Mmm, you may not always be so lucky...You don't care about anything except you. You just want to persuade people that you love 'em so much that they oughta love you back. Only you want love on your own terms. It's somethin' to be played your way, according to your rules.

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) (aka All That Money Can Buy)
Screenwriter(s): Dan Totheroh, Stephen Vincent Benet

Courtroom Defense of Farmer Jabez Stone against Mr. Scratch by Daniel Webster

19th century New Hampshire farmer Jabez Stone (James Craig) bargained injudiciously with the Devil (Mr. Scratch) (Walter Huston) for seven years of "good luck...and all that money can buy" - in exchange for his soul. Jabez required the services of famous lawyer-orator Daniel Webster to win back his soul in a climactic trial. Members of the Webster-chosen jury included Americans - all rebels who had bargained away their lives and lost their freedom:

Gentlemen of the jury, tonight it is my privilege to address a group of men I've long been acquainted with in song and story, but men I had never hoped to see. My worthy opponent, Mr. Scratch, called you Americans all. Mr. Scratch is right. You were Americans all. Oh, what a heritage you were born to share!

Gentlemen of the jury, I envy you, for you were present at the birth of a mighty Union. It was given to you to hear those first cries of pain - and behold the shining babe, born of blood and tears. You are called upon tonight to judge a man named Jabez Stone. What is his case? He's accused of breach of contract. He made a deal to find a short cut in his life - to get rich quickly. The same kind of a deal all of you once made. You, Benedict Arnold! I speak to you first because you are better known than the rest of your colleagues here. What a different song yours could have been. A friend of Washington and LaFayette - a soldier - General Arnold, you fought so gallantly for the American cause, till - let me see, what was the date? - 1779, a date burned in your heart. The lure of gold made you betray that cause.

And you, Simon Girty, now known to all as Renegade! A loathsome word - you also took that other way. And you, Walter Butler, what would you give for another chance to see the grasses grow in Cherry Valley without the stain of blood? I could go on and on and name you all but there's no need of that. Why stir the wounds? I know they pain enough. You were fooled like Jabez Stone, fooled and trapped in your desire to rebel against your fate.

Gentlemen of the jury, it's the eternal right of every man to raise his fist against his fate, but when he does, there are crossroads. You took the wrong turn. So did Jabez Stone. But he found it out in time. He's here tonight to save his soul. Gentlemen of the jury, I ask you to give Jabez Stone another chance to walk upon this earth, among - the trees, the growing corn, and the smell of grasses in the spring. What would you all give for another chance to see those things you must all remember and often yearn to touch again? For you were all men once. Clean American air was in your lungs and you breathed it deeply for it was free and blew across an earth you loved. These are common things I speak of, small things, but they are good things. Yet without your soul, they mean nothing. Without your soul, they sicken.

Mr. Scratch once told you that your soul meant nothing, and you believed him. And you lost your freedom. Freedom isn't just a big word. It is the morning and the bread and the risen sun. It was for freedom we came to these shores in boats and ships. It was a long journey and a hard one and a bitter one. Yes, there is sadness in being a ma, but it is a proud thing, too. And out of the suffering and the starvation and the wrong and the right, a new thing has come - a free man. And when the ships of the oppressors are broken and their names forgotten and destroyed, free men will be talking and walking under a free star. Yes, we have planted freedom in this earth like wheat. And we have said to the skies above us, 'A man shall own his own soul...' Now, here is this man. He is your brother. You were Americans all.

(pointing at the Devil) You can't be on his side, the side of the oppressor. Let Jabez Stone keep his soul - a soul which doesn't belong to him alone, but to his family, his son, and his country. Gentlemen of the jury, don't let this country go to the devil! Free Jabez Stone! God bless the United States and the men who made her free!

How Green Was My Valley (1941)
Screenwriter(s): Philip Dunne

Opening Voice-Over

In the opening monologue, Huw (pronounced Hugh) Morgan (Roddy McDowall as the winsome boy) idealistically looked back (in flashback with offscreen narration in a first-person, singular, adult voice-over provided by the eloquent, mellifluous voice of Irving Pinchel) about life in his Welsh mining town:

I am packing my belongings in the shawl my mother used to wear when she went to the market. And I'm going from my valley. And this time, I shall never return. I am leaving behind me my fifty years of memory. Memory. Streams that the mind will forget so much of what only this moment has passed, and yet hold clear and bright the memory of what happened years ago - of men and women long since dead. Yet who shall say what is real and what is not?...

The Lady Eve (1941)
Screenwriter(s): Preston Sturges

"I've Never Loved Anyone But You"

On the windy bow of the boat in the moonlight in a romantic scene, rich and naive Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) delivered a love speech about his intentions to be engaged to con-artist Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) - he imagined her as a "little girl." In frank terms, they both agreed that they wished they were married and on their honeymoon. At its conclusion, Charles kissed her passionately:

I've just understood something. You see, every time I've looked at you here on the boat, it wasn't only here I saw you. You seemed to go way back. I know that isn't clear but I, I saw you here and at the same time further away, and then still further away; and then very small, like converging perspective lines. No, that isn't it, it's like, like people following each other in a forest glade. Only way back there, you're a little girl with a short dress and your hair falling to your shoulders and a little boy is standing with you holding your hand. In the middle distance I'm still with you, not holding your hand anymore because it isn't manly, but wanting to. And then still further, we look terrible. You with your legs like a colt and mine like a calf. What I'm trying to say is -- only I'm not a poet, I'm an ophiologist -- I've always loved you. I mean I've never loved anyone but you. I know that sounds dull as a drugstore novel, and what I see inside I'll never be able to cast into words, but that's what I mean. I wish we were married and on our honeymoon now.

The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Screenwriter(s): John Huston

"When A Man's Partner Is Killed, He's Supposed to Do Something About It"

Private detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) dealt with deceitful, ruthless, and amoral Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), and was planning to turn her into police for the murder of his partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) - "Don't be silly. You're taking the fall...I won't play the sap for you...You killed Miles and you're going over for it":

When a man's partner's killed, he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner, and you're supposed to do something about it, and it happens we're in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it's - it's bad business to let the killer get away with it, bad all around, bad for every detective everywhere.

The manipulative Brigid attempted to save herself: "You don't expect me to think that these things you're saying are sufficient reasons for sending me to the...," but Spade interrupted:

Wait'll I'm through. Then you can talk. I've no earthly reason to think I can trust you. And if I do this and get away with it, you'll have something on me that you can use whenever you want to. Since I've got something on you, I couldn't be sure that you wouldn't put a hole in me some day. All those are on one side. Maybe some of them are unimportant. I won't argue about that. But look at the number of them. And what have we got on the other side? All we've got is that maybe you love me and maybe I love you.

Meet John Doe (1941)
Screenwriter(s): Robert Riskin

"Wake up, John Doe. You're the Hope of the World!"

The fictional John Doe (Gary Cooper) (aka Long John Willoughby) delivered a radio address - an idealistic appeal to the common man - all the John Does ("the little punks") in the world - to get up on their feet and pull together as a team:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am the man you all know as John Doe. I took that name because it seems to describe, because it seems to describe the average man - and that's me. (He cleared his throat) And that's me. Well, it was me before I said I was gonna jump off the City Hall roof at midnight on Christmas Eve. Now I guess I'm not average anymore. Now I'm getting all sorts of attention, from big shots too, the mayor and the governor, for instance. They don't like those articles I've been writing...

Well, people like the governor, people like the governor and that fellow there can stop worrying. I'm not going to talk about them. I'm gonna talk about us - the average guys, the John Does. If anybody should ask you what the average John Doe is like, you couldn't tell him because he's a million and one things. He's Mr. Big and Mr. Small, he's simple and he's wise, he's inherently honest but he's got a streak of larceny in his heart. He seldom walks up to a public telephone without shovin' his finger into the slot to see if somebody left a nickel there. (Laughter) He's the man the ads are written for. He's the fella everybody sells things to. He's Joe Doakes, the world's greatest stooge and the world's greatest strength.

Yes sir, yes sir, we're a great family, the John Does. We are the meek who are, who are supposed to inherit the earth. You'll find us everywhere. We raise the crops, we dig the mines, work the factories, keep the books, fly the planes and drive the buses, and when a cop yells, 'Stand back there you,' he means us - the John Does...We've existed since time began. We built the pyramids. We saw Christ crucified, pulled the oars for Roman emperors, sailed the boats for Columbus, retreated from Moscow with Napoleon, and froze with Washington at Valley Forge. Yes sir, we've been in there dodgin' left hooks since before History began to walk. In our struggle for freedom, we've hit the canvas many a time, but we always bounced back because we're the people - and we're tough. (Applause)

They've started a lot of talk about free people goin' soft, that we can't take it. That's a lot of hooey! A free people can beat the world at anything, from war to tiddly-winks if we all pull in the same direction. (Applause) I know a lot of you are saying, 'What can I do? I'm just a little punk. I don't count.' Well, you're dead wrong. The little punks have always counted because in the long run, the character of a country is the sum total of the character of its little punks. (Applause)

But we've all got to get in there and pitch. We can't win the old ball game unless we have teamwork. And that's where every John Doe comes in. It's up to him to get together with his teammate. And your teammate, my friends, is the guy next door to ya. Your neighbor - he's a terribly important guy, that guy next door. You're gonna need him and he's gonna need you, so look him up. If he's sick, call on him. If he's hungry, feed him. If he's out of a job, find him one. To most of you, your neighbor is a stranger, a guy with a barkin' dog and a high fence around him. Now you can't be a stranger to any guy that's on your own team. So tear down the fence that separates you. Tear down the fence and you'll tear down a lot of hates and prejudices. Tear down all the fences in the country and you'll really have teamwork. (Applause)

I know a lot of you are saying to yourselves: 'He's askin' for a miracle to happen. He's expecting people to change all of a sudden.' Well, you're wrong. It's no miracle. It's no miracle because I see it happen once every year and so do you - at Christmas time. There's something swell about the spirit of Christmas, to see what it does to people, all kinds of people. Now why can't that spirit, that same warm Christmas spirit, last the whole year round? Gosh, if it ever did, if each and every John Doe would make that spirit last 365 days out of the year - we'd develop such a strength, we'd create such a tidal wave of good will that no human force could stand against it. Yes sir, my friends, the meek can only inherit the earth when the John Does start loving their neighbors. You'd better start right now. Don't wait till the game is called on account of darkness. Wake up, John Doe, you're the hope of the world!

Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Screenwriter(s): Preston Sturges

Thoughts on the Reality of Poverty - "It Is To Be Shunned"

Escapist film director John Sullivan (Joel McCrea) planned to take an experiential journey to find out what it was like to be poor and needy before filming a picture about it. Burrows (Robert Grieg), Sullivan's butler coldly disapproved of Sullivan's 'caricaturized' disguise as a down-and-out hobo wearing shabby clothes, because the poor insisted upon their privacy and didn't want any intruders. He also told Sullivan some of the less-than-romantic symptoms of poverty - a futile speech to dissuade his employer from journeying out since poverty was "to be shunned":

The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous...They rather resent the invasion of their privacy. I believe quite properly, sir. Also, such excursions can be extremely dangerous, sir. I worked for a gentleman once, who likewise, with two friends, accoutred themselves, as you have, sir, and then went out for a lark. They have not been heard from since...

You see, sir, rich people and theorists, who are usually rich people, think of poverty in the negative, as the lack of riches -- as disease might be called the lack of health. But it isn't, sir. Poverty is not the lack of anything, but a positive plague, virulent in itself, contagious as cholera, with filth, criminality, vice and despair as only a few of its symptoms. It is to be stayed away from, even for purposes of study. It is to be shunned.

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
1981 | 1982 | 1982-1983 | 1984 | 1984-1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1989
1990 | 1990 | 1991 | 1991 | 1992 | 1992 | 1993 | 1993 | 1994 | 1994 | 1995 | 1995
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