Best Film Speeches and Monologues
|Film Title/Year and Description of Film Speech/Monologue
Ace in the Hole (1951) (aka The
Screenwriter(s): Billy Wilder, Lesser Samuels, Walter Newman
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.
Screenwriter(s): James Agee, John Huston
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
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
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
Screenwriter(s): Alan Jay Lerner
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
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
Screenwriter(s): Alan Jay Lerner
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
Against War and Violence
Play clips (excerpt): (short) (extended)
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. Gort,
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
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
Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Screenwriter(s): Tennessee Williams, Oscar Saul
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!
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
Screenwriter(s): Tennessee Williams, Oscar
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)
to the Skies" Warning
Play clip (excerpt):
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!