Best Film Speeches
and Monologues

1956-1957


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

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Screenwriter(s): Daniel Mainwaring

Haunting Voice-Over Narration

Dr. Miles Bennell's (Kevin McCarthy) haunting opening voice-over about how the town had changed, and how his office had been besieged by patients in a near epidemic during his absence:

It started - for me, it started - last Thursday, in response to an urgent message from my nurse, I hurried home from a medical convention I'd been attending. At first glance, everything looked the same. It wasn't. Something evil had taken possession of the town...

Sick people who couldn't wait to see me, then suddenly were perfectly all right. A boy who said his mother wasn't his mother. A woman who said her uncle wasn't her uncle.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Screenwriter(s): Daniel Mainwaring

Frantic "You're Next!" Warning

The doctor's equally haunting frantic, panicked highway rant as he desperately tried to warn motorists of the omnipresent danger -- especially after seeing a flatbed truck loaded with alien pods:

Help! Wait! Stop. Stop and listen to me!...These people who're coming after me are not human!...Look, you fools. You're in danger. Can't you see? They're after you. They're after all of us. Our wives, our children, everyone. They're here already. YOU'RE NEXT!

It Conquered the World (1956)
Screenwriter(s): Lou Rusoff

Eulogy About Man's Place in the Universe

In Roger Corman's sci-fi/horror B-movie, Dr. Paul Nelson's (Peter Graves) surprisingly potent eulogy for Dr. Tom Anderson (Lee Van Cleef) and his thoughts on Man's place in the universe in a closing montage:

He learned almost too late that man is a feeling creature... and because of it, the greatest in the universe. He learned too late for himself that men have to find their own way, to make their own mistakes. There can't be any gift of perfection from outside ourselves. And when men seek such perfection... they find only death... fire... loss... disillusionment... the end of everything that's gone forward. Men have always sought an end to the toil and misery, but it can't be given, it has to be achieved. There is hope, but it has to come from inside, from Man himself.

Moby Dick (1956)
Screenwriter(s): Ray Bradbury, John Huston

The Battle of Good vs. Evil

In Nantucket before sailing, Father Mapple's (Orson Welles) long, stirring, ranting sermon about the battle of good vs. evil in the soul of man, with nautical metaphors, reference to St. Paul, and inspired by the Jonah and the whale tale:

...Jonah did the Almighty's bidding. And what was that, Shipmates? TO PREACH THE TRUTH IN THE FACE OF FALSEHOOD. Now Shipmates, woe to him who seeks to pour oil on the troubled waters when God has brewed them into a gale. Yea, woe to him who, as the Pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is himself a castaway. But delight is to him who against the proud gods and commodores of this earth stands forth his own inexorable self, who destroys all sin, though he pluck it out from the robes of senators and judges! And Eternal Delight shall be his, who coming to lay him down can say:

- O Father, mortal or immortal, here I die.
I have driven to be thine,
more than to be this world's or mine own,
yet this is nothing
I leave eternity to Thee.

For what is man that he should live out the lifetime of his God?

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Screenwriter(s): Michael Wilson, Carl Foreman

Welcome to British POWs - "Be Happy in Your Work"

Japanese Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) delivered a threatening, ominous address to recently-captured British POWs in his jungle camp, instructing that officers would work as well as the other prisoners, and warning everyone about impossible escape:

I am Colonel Saito. (He stepped up on a box to view the prisoners and address them.) In the name of his Imperial Majesty, I welcome you. I am the commanding officer of this camp, which is Camp 16 along the great railroad which will soon connect Bangkok with Rangoon. You British prisoners have been chosen to build a bridge across the River Kwai. It will be pleasant work requiring skill, and officers will work as well as men. The Japanese Army cannot have idle mouths to feed. If you work hard, you will be treated well. But if you do not work hard, you will be punished!

A word to you about escape. There is no barbed wire, no stockade, no watchtower. They are not necessary. We are an island in the jungle. Escape is impossible. You would die. Today you rest. Tomorrow you will begin. Let me remind you of General Yamashita's motto: 'Be happy in your work.' Dismissed!



The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Screenwriter(s): Michael Wilson, Carl Foreman

A Personal Reverie About Years of Military Service

British Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) and Japanese Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) met mid-span on the beautifully engineered, completed River Kwai bridge as the sun set, exchanging views and reflecting on its magnificent beauty ("a beautiful creation" and "a first-rate job"). As Saito stood behind him, Nicholson leaned over one of the guard rails and looked out over the river while delivering a personal reverie about his years of military service. He reflected on his "good life," particularly as a regular officer in India (the ultimate destination of the Japanese railroad route that he had helped to construct):

I've been thinking. Tomorrow it will be 28 years to the day that I've been in the service. 28 years in peace and war. I don't suppose I've been at home more than ten months in all that time. Still, it's been a good life. I love India. I wouldn't have had it any other way. But there are times when suddenly you realize you're nearer the end than the beginning. And you wonder, you ask yourself, what the sum total of your life represents, what difference your being there at any time made to anything, or if it made any difference at all really. Particularly in comparison with other men's careers. I don't know whether that kind of thinking is very healthy, but I must admit I've had some thoughts on those lines from time to time. But tonight -- tonight!

He accidentally dropped his stick into the river.

Blast! I must be off. The men are preparing some sort of entertainment.



The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
Screenwriter(s): Richard Matheson

"I Still Exist!" Speech

Top Pick

Scott Carey's (Grant Williams) final narrated soliloquy as he shrank out of sight, but realized that he was still important in the scheme of the universe:

I was continuing to shrink, to become... what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So close - the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet - like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God's silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of Man's own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends is man's conception, not nature's. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away and in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I STILL EXIST!

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Screenwriter(s): Clifford Odets, Ernest Lehman

Hunsecker's Degrading of Falco - "Match me, Sidney"

Powerful and unethical Broadway columnist J. J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) provided a critical, vitriolic and degrading description of slimy press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis):

Mr. Falco, let it be said at once, is a man of forty faces, not one. None too pretty and all deceptive. You see that grin? That's the, uh, that's the charming street-urchin face. It's part of his helpless act. He throws himself upon your mercy. He's got a half-dozen faces for the ladies. But the one I like, the really cute one, is the quick, dependable chap - nothing he won't do for you in a pinch. So he says! Mr. Falco, whom I did not invite to sit at this table tonight, is a hungry press agent and fully up to all the tricks of his very slimy trade.

He then challenged him with the famous line, holding out his cigarette:

Match me, Sidney.



Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Screenwriter(s): Clifford Odets, Ernest Lehman

Farewell to a Possessive Brother

Susan Hunsecker (Susan Harrison) quiet, firm farewell to her powerful but possessive brother J. J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster), who tried to end her relationship with jazz musician Steve Dallas (Martin Milner), before she walked into the bright sun as an independent woman:

I'd rather be dead than living with you. For all the things you've done, J.J., I know I should hate you. But I don't. I pity you.


Best Film Speeches and Monologues
(chronological, by film title)
Introduction
1920-1931 | 1932-1935 | 1936-1937 | 1938-1939 | 1939
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