Best Film Speeches
and Monologues

1951


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

Ace in the Hole (1951) (aka The Big Carnival)
Screenwriter(s): Billy Wilder, Lesser Samuels, Walter Newman

"No Chopped Chicken Liver. No Garlic Pickles"

In the Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin's news office, belligerent big-city newspaper reporter Charles 'Chuck' Tatum (Kirk Douglas), after being brought a lunch of chicken tacos (and not chopped chicken liver and garlic pickles), started to contemptuously and savagely rant about how much he missed New York after working in New Mexico for a year:

When the history of this sunbaked Siberia is written, these shameful words will live in infamy: 'No chopped chicken liver.' No garlic pickles. No Lindy's. No Madison Square Garden. No Yogi Berra. What do you know about Yogi Berra, Miss Deverich? (Miss Deverich: "..Yogi? Why, it's a sort of religion, isn't it?") You bet it is - a belief in the New York Yankees. You know what's wrong with New Mexico, Mr. Wendell? Too much outdoors. Give me those eight spindly trees in front of Rockefeller Center any day. That's enough outdoors for me. No subways smelling sweet-sour. What do you use for noise around here? No beautiful roar from eight million ants - fighting, cursing, loving. No shows. No South Pacific. No chic little dames across a crowded bar. And worst of all, Herbie. No 80th floor to jump from when you feel like it....

When I came here, I thought this was gonna be a 30-day stretch, maybe 60. Now it's a year. It looks like a life sentence. Where is it? Where's the loaf of bread with a file in it? Where's that big story to get me outta here? One year, and what's our hot news? A soapbox derby. A tornado - that double-crossed us and went to Texas. An old goof who said he was the real Jesse James - until they found out he was a chicken thief from Gallup by the name of, uh, Schimmelmacher. I'm stuck here, fans. Stuck for good. Unless of course, you Miss Deverich, instead of writing household hints about how to remove chili stains from blue jeans, get yourself involved in a trunk murder. How about it, Miss Deverich? I could do wonders with your dismembered body. (Miss Deverich: "Oh, Mr. Tatum. Really") (He growled) Or you, Mr. Wendell. If you'd only toss that cigar out of the window - real far, all the way to Los Alamos - And boom!! (He chuckled) Now there would be a story.

The African Queen (1951)
Screenwriter(s): James Agee, John Huston

Comparison of a Sailor to a Lady

Scruffy sailor Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) begrudgingly accepted straight-laced Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) on board his steamer, to help set a good example, after she dumped all of his gin bottles overboard. He was slightly reformed, cleaning the ship's engine and shaving:

Well, Miss, ‘ere we are, everything ship shape, like they say. Ah, it's a great thing to have a lady aboard with clean habits. It sets the man a good example. A man alone, he gets to livin' like a hog. Ha, ha. Then, too, with me, it's always: 'Put things off. Never do today what you can put off 'til tomorrow.' But with you: 'Business before pleasure.' Every time. Do all your personal laundry. Make yourself spic-and-span, get all the mending out of the way, and then - and only then - sit down for a nice quiet hour with the Good Book. I tell you, it's a model - like an inspiration. Why, I ain't had this old engine so clean in years, inside and out. Ha, ha. Just look at her, Miss. See how she practically sparkles. Myself, too. Guess you ain't never had a look at me without my whiskers and all cleaned up. I bet you wouldn't hardly recognize me, works that much of a change. Freshens ya up, too. If I only had some clean clothes, like you. Now you - why you could be at high tea. Say, that's an idea, Miss. How's about a nice little cup of tea? Now don't you stir, I'll be glad to make it for you.

She responded with stony silence - he watched her read her Good Book.

Uh, how's the Book, Miss? (no answer) Well, not that I ain't read it. That is to say, my poor old Mum used to read me stories out of it. (no answer) How's about reading it outloud? (silence) I could sure do with a little spiritual comfort, myself. (Yelling at her) And you call yourself a Christian! Do you hear me? Don't ya? Don't ya? (at the top of his lungs) Huh? What ya being so mean for, Miss? A man takes a drop too much once in a while. It's only human nature.

Without actually looking up at Charlie, she lectured him about his gin-guzzling and foul nature - and that he should "rise above" his carnal nature, in one of the film's most famous lines:

Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.

He apologized for his drunken nature, and begged for no more silence, and then realized she was angry at him for changing his mind about going down-river rather than for his drinking:

Miss, I'm sorry. I apologize. What more can a man do than say he's sorry, huh? (no answer) You done paid me back, Miss. You didn't even leave me a drop. Miss, have a heart. Fair is fair. You gotta say somethin', I don't care what it is, but you gotta say something. I'll be honest with ya, Miss. I, I just can't stand no more of this. I-I just ain't used to it, that's all.






An American in Paris (1951)
Screenwriter(s): Alan Jay Lerner

The City of Paris, Perfect for Painters

After the credits and a brief travelogue of Paris, a voice-over described the setting. The speaker was carefree, but struggling and penniless young artist, ex-GI Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly), who had remained in Paris following World War II to paint and study art. He explained the lure of Paris for a painter:

This is Paris. And I'm an American who lives here. My name, Jerry Mulligan, and I'm an ex-GI. In 1945, when the Army told me to find my own job, I stayed on. And I'll tell you why. I'm a painter. All my life that's all I've ever wanted to do. And for a painter, the Mecca of the world for study, for inspiration, and for living is here on this star called Paris. Just look at it. No wonder so many artists have come here and called it home. Brother, if you can't paint in Paris, you'd better give up and marry the boss' daughter. We're on the Left Bank now. That's where I'm billeted. Here's my street. In the past couple of years, I've gotten to practically know everyone on the block. And a nicer bunch you'll never meet.

Back home, everyone said I didn't have any talent. They might be saying the same thing over here, but it sounds better in French. I live upstairs. No, no, no, not there. One flight up. Viola.





An American in Paris (1951)
Screenwriter(s): Alan Jay Lerner

Broken-Hearted in Paris - "It Never Lets You Forget Anything"

During the evening, broken-hearted Jerry (Gene Kelly) retreated to the balcony during the Beaux Arts Ball, overlooking the vast scene of Paris at night. There, he managed to see 19 year old girlfriend Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron) alone for a final goodbye before she departed to marry successful music-hall star entertainer Henri Baurel (Georges Guetary), because of the protection he had offered her for five years during the Resistance. In the bittersweet, romantic setting, Lise told him: "Paris has ways of making people forget" - and he responded with the final dialogue of the film, with 20 minutes still remaining:

Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. I know. I came to Paris to study and to paint it because Utrillo did, and Lautrec did, and Rouault did. I loved what they created, and I thought something would happen to me, too. Well, it happened all right. Now what have I got left? Paris. Maybe that's enough for some, but it isn't for me anymore. Because the more beautiful everything is, the more it'll hurt without you.

She briefly replied: "Jerry, don't let me leave you this way," and they embraced before she left him, possibly forever.



The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Screenwriter(s): Edmund H. North

Warnings Against War and Violence

Klaatu (Michael Rennie) lectured and warned world leaders at the conclusion of the film, with robot Gort standing behind him near the entrance to their spaceship:

I am leaving soon, and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all, or no one is secure. Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them. We, of the other planets, have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our policemen, we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked. At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. The result is, we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war, free to pursue more profitable enterprises. Now we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet. But if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple. Join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.

The film was remade in 2008 by director Scott Derrickson, starring Keanu Reeves as Klaatu.



Death of a Salesman (1951)
Screenwriter(s): Based upon Arthur Miller's play

Father's Delusion About His Sons

Willy Loman (Fredric March) delusionally assumed that looks were all his sons Biff (Kevin McCarthy) and Happy (Cameron Mitchell) would need to get ahead:

That's just what I mean, Bernard can get the best marks in school, y'understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y'understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him. That's why I thank Almighty God you're both built like Adonises. Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me for instance, I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. 'Willy Loman is here!' That's all they have to know, and I go right through...

 

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Screenwriter(s): Tennessee Williams, Oscar Saul

"He's Like An Animal...Don't Hang Back With the Brutes!"

Early in the film, after the arrival of Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh), the sister of Stella (Kim Hunter), married to primal and brutish Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), Blanche tried to warn Stella about her animalistic, obscene, bestial and common husband:

May I speak plainly?...If you'll forgive me, he's common!...Suppose? Surely you can't have forgotten that much of our upbringing, Stella, that you suppose there's any part of a gentleman in his nature. Oh, you're hating me saying this, aren't you?...He's like an animal. He has an animal's habits. There's even something subhuman about him. Thousands of years have passed him right by, and there he is! Stanley Kowalski, survivor of the Stone Age, bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle! And you - you here waiting by it. Maybe he'll strike you or maybe grunt and kiss you. That's if kisses have been discovered yet. His poker night, you call it. His party of apes! Maybe we are a long way from being made in God's image, but Stella, my sister, there's been some progress since then. Such things as art, as poetry, as music. In some kinds of people, some tenderer feelings have had some little beginning that we have got to make grow and to cling to, and hold as our flag in this dark march toward whatever it is we're approaching. Don't, don't hang back with the brutes!

"I'm The King Around Here"

Later during Blanche's birthday dinner of greasy chicken - Stanley went into an angry tirade. He intimidated both his wife Stella and Blanche, when Stella hinted at Stanley's lower-class breeding and limitations. He told them off as he cleared the table in his own way with the swipe of his arm:

Now that's how I'm gonna clear the table. Don't you ever talk that way to me! 'Pig,' 'Pollack,' 'disgusting,' 'vulgar,' 'greasy.' Those kind of words have been on your tongue and your sister's tongue just too much around here! What do you think you are? A pair of queens? Now just remember what Huey Long said - that every man's a king - and I'm the King around here, and don't you forget it!




A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Screenwriter(s): Tennessee Williams, Oscar Saul

"Beauty is Transitory" Speech

Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) also gave a famous "beauty is transitory" speech to Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), when she thought that her millionaire admirer Huntleigh would respect her, desire her for companionship, and not invade her privacy. She imagined that he wanted a cultured woman such as herself - with inner beauty. In her deluded fantasy life, she convinced herself that she was not getting older, but only improving with age, and would have the pick of her suitors:

It won't be the sort of thing you have in mind. This man is a gentleman - he respects me. What he wants is my companionship. Having great wealth sometimes makes people lonely. A cultivated woman - a woman of breeding and intelligence - can enrich a man's life immeasurably. I have those things to offer, and time doesn't take them away. Physical beauty is passing - a transitory possession. But beauty of the mind, richness of the spirit, tenderness of the heart - I have all those things - aren't taken away but grow! Increase with the years! Oh! Strange that I should be called a destitute woman when I have all these treasures locked in my heart. I think of myself as a very, very rich woman.

But I have been foolish - casting my pearls before....(swine). Yes, swine! And I'm thinking not only of you, but of your friend Mr. Mitchell. He came here tonight, he did, coming in his work clothes, to repeat slander, vicious stories he'd gotten from you. I gave him his walking papers. But then he returned, he returned with a box of roses to beg my forgiveness. He implored my forgiveness. Some things are not forgivable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable. It is the one unforgivable thing, in my opinion, and the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty. So I said to him, 'Thank you,' but it was foolish to think that we could ever adapt ourselves to each other. Our ways of life are too different. Our backgrounds are incompatible. So farewell, my friend and let there be no hard feelings.


The Thing From Another World (1951)
Screenwriter(s): Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Howard Hawks (uncredited)

"Look to the Skies" Warning

Ned 'Scotty' Scott (Douglas Spencer) frantically warned "Look to the skies" at the film's conclusion:

I bring you a warning. Every one of you listening to my voice, tell the world. Tell this to everybody wherever they are: watch the skies, everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!


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