Best Film Speeches
and Monologues

1958-1959


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

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Screenwriter(s): Richard Brooks, James Poe

Maggie's Tortured Without Love Speech

Maggie Pollitt's (Elizabeth Taylor) longing, pleading to an unresponsive (possibly gay) husband Brick (Paul Newman):

Why can't you lose your good looks, Brick? Most drinkin' men lose theirs. Why can't you? I think you've even gotten better-lookin' since you went on the bottle. You were such a wonderful lover... You were so excitin' to be in love with. Mostly, I guess, 'cause you were... If I thought you'd never never make love to me again... why I'd find me the longest, sharpest knife I could and I'd stick it straight into my heart. I'd do that. Oh Brick, how long does this have to go on? This punishment? Haven't I served my term? Can't I apply for a pardon?

The Last Hurrah (1958)
Screenwriter(s): Frank S. Nugent

Stealing the Food of One's Employer

Aging, corrupt Eastern city Irish-American Democratic political boss Mayor Skeffington's (Spencer Tracy) at the age of 72 and running for re-election, told a long story to his idealistic 33 year-old nephew Adam Caulfield (Jeffrey Hunter), a newspaper sports column writer. He described how his Irish immigrant mother, when working as a maid in the home of the father of Amos Force (John Carradine), the current editor of the newspaper, was fired for stealing her employer's food. She was humiliated and then fired by the elder Force for stealing two overripe bananas and a small apple, a "crime" usually accepted by the wealthy Yankees who employed poor Irish immigrants. He argued that the Force family had never forgiven their maid's son for becoming mayor of the city:

Vertigo (1958)
Screenwriter(s) Alec Coppel, Samuel A. Taylor, Maxwell Anderson (uncredited)

"You Found Me" Letter

Judy's/Madeleine's (Kim Novak) letter written to Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart), and read in voice-over:

Dear Scottie: And so you found me. This is the moment that I've dreaded and hoped for, wondering what I would say and do if I ever saw you again. I wanted so to see you again just once. Now I'll go and you can give up your search. I want you to have peace of mind. You have nothing to blame yourself for. You were the victim. I was the tool, and you were the victim of Gavin Elster's plan to murder his wife. He chose me to play the part because I looked like her, dressed me up like her. He was quite safe because she lived in the country and rarely came to town. He chose you to be a witness to a suicide. Carlotta's story was part real, part invented to make you testify that Madeleine wanted to kill herself. He knew of your illness. He knew you'd never get up the stairs to the tower. He planned it so well. He made no mistakes. I made a mistake. I fell in love. That wasn't part of the plan. I'm still in love with you. And I want you so to love me. If I had the nerve, I'd stay and lie, hoping that I could make you love me again as I am, for myself, and so forget the other and forget the past. But I don't know whether I have the nerve to try.

Ben-Hur (1959)
Screenwriter(s): Karl Tunberg

SlaveMaster's Judgment of Slave 41

Roman gallery slave master Quintus Arrius's (Jack Hawkins) appraisal of rower Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), referring to him as Slave Number "41":

You have the spirit to fight back but the good sense to control it. Your eyes are full of hate, Forty-One. That's good. Hate keeps a man alive. It gives him strength.

Compulsion (1959)
Screenwriter(s): Richard Murphy

Closing Argument Against Capital Punishment: "I'm Pleading For Love"

Clarence Darrow-like attorney Jonathan Wilk's (Orson Welles) 10-15 minute eloquent, closing argument against the death penalty is considered the longest true monologue in film history. He was attempting to save two rich young law student-turned-thrill-killers Artie Straus and Judd Steiner (Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell) in their court trial.

Rather than a contrived defense to prove their innocence before a jury, he conceded that his clients were guilty and instead made an impassioned plea against the state being able to execute two youths regardless of the severity of their premeditated crime. In a brilliant ploy, he decided he would withdraw the plea of not guilty and change it to guilty - to eliminate trial by jury. And he would not plead an insanity case (which would also require the jury). He decided to plead their case solely before the judge.

This crime is the most fiendish, cold-blooded, inexcusable case the world has ever known. That's what Mr. Horn has told this court. Your Honor, I've been practicing law a good deal longer than I ought to have, defending now for 45, 46 years, during all that time, I've never tried a case where the State's Attorney did not say that it was the most cold-blooded inexcusable case ever. Certainly there was no excuse for the killing of little Pauly Kessler. There was also no reason for it. It wasn't for spite, or hate, or for money. The great misfortune of this case is money. If your Honor should doom these boys to die, it'll be because their parents are rich. I don't need to mention that I'd fight as hard for the poor as for the rich.

If I'd come into this court alone, with two ordinary, obscure defendants who'd done what these boys have done, there hadn't been all this weirdness and notoriety, this sensational publicity, and I said, "Your Honor I want to gather a plea of guilty and let you sentence them to life imprisonment," do you suppose the State's Attorneys would raise their voices in protest? There's never been a case in Chicago where on a plea of guilty a boy under 21 has been sentenced to death -- not one.

Yet for some reason, in the case of these immature boys of diseased minds, as plain as day, they say you can only get justice by shedding their last drop of blood. Isn't a lifetime behind prison bars enough for this mad act? And must this great public be regaled with a hanging? For the last three weeks, I've heard nothing but the cry of blood in this room. Heard nothing from the offices of the State's Attorneys but ugly hatred.

For God's sake, are we crazy!? If you hang these boys, it will mean that in this land of ours, a court of law could not help but bow down to public opinion. In as cruel a speech as he knew how to make, the State's Attorneys told this Court that we're pleading guilty because we're afraid to do anything else. Your Honor, that's true. So of course, I'm afraid to submit this case to a jury, where the responsibility must be divided by twelve. No, your Honor, if these boys must hang, you must do it. It must be your own deliberate, cool, premeditated act.

The State's Attorneys laughed at me for talking about childrens' fantasies, but what does he know about childhood? What do I know? Is there anyone of us who hasn't been guilty of some kind of delinquency in his youth? How many men are there here today, lawyers and congressmen, judges, and even States' Attorneys, who haven't been guilty of some kind of wild act in youth, and if the consequences didn't amount to much, and we didn't get caught, that was our good luck.

But this was something different. This was the mad act of two sick children who belong in a psychopathic hospital. Do I need to argue it? Is there any man with a decent regard for human life, and the slightest bit of heart, that doesn't understand it? We're told it was a cold-blooded killing, because they planned and schemed. Yes, but for months, to hear the officers of the State, who for months have planned and schemed and contrived to take these boys' lives. Talk about scheming. Your Honor, I've become obsessed with this deep feeling of hate and anger. I've been fighting it, battling with it until it has fairly driven me mad.

What about this matter of crime and punishment, anyway? Through the centuries, our laws have been modified, until now men look back with horror at the hangings and the killings of the past. It's been proven, that if the penalties are less barbarous, the crimes are less frequent. Do I need to argue with your Honor that cruelty only breeds cruelty? That every religious leader who's held up as an example has taught us that if there's any way to kill evil, it's not by killing men, and if there's any way of destroying hatred, and all that goes with it, it's not through evil and hatred and cruelty. It's through charity, love, understanding. This is a Christian community - so-called. Is there any doubt that these boys would be safe in the hands of the founder of the Christian religion?

I think anyone who knows me knows how sorry I am for little Pauly Kessler, knows that I'm not saying it simply to talk. Artie and Judd enticed him into a car and when he struggled, they hit him over the head and killed him. They did that. They poured acid on him to destroy his identity and put the naked body in a ditch. And if killing these boys would bring him back to life, I'd say let them go. And I think their parents would say so, too. Neither they nor I would want them released. They must be isolated from society. I'm asking this court to shut them into a prison for life. Any cry for more goes back to the hyena, goes back to the beasts of the jungle. There's no part of man.

This court is told to give them the same mercy that they gave their victim. Your Honor, if our state is not kinder, more human, more considerate, more intelligent than the mad act of these two sick boys, then I'm sorry that I've lived so long. I know that any mother might be the mother of little Pauly Kessler, who left home and went to school and never came back. But I know that any mother might be the mother of Artie Strauss, Judd Steiner. Maybe in some ways these parents are more responsible than their children. I guess the truth is that all parents can be criticized. And these might have done better, if they hadn't had so much money. I do not know.

The State's Attorney has pictured the putting of the poor little dead body in the ditch. But your Honor, I can only think now of taking these two boys, 18 and 19, penning them in a cell, checking off the days and hours and minutes, until they're wakened in the grey of the morning and led to the scaffold, their feet tied, black caps drawn over their heads, stood on a trap, the hangman pressing a spring. I can see them fall through space, I can see them stopped by the rope around their necks. It would be done, of course, in the name of justice.

Justice, who knows what it is? Do I know? Does your Honor know? Can your Honor tell me what I deserve? Can your Honor appraise your self and say what you deserve? Do you think you can cure the hatreds and maladjustments of the world by hanging them? Mr. Horn says that if we hang Artie and Judd, there'll be no more killing. The world has been one long slaughterhouse from the beginning until today, and the killing goes on and on and on. Why not read something, why not think, instead of blindly shouting for death. Kill them because everybody's talking about the case? Because their parents have money? Kill them? Will that stop other sick boys from killing? No.

It's taken the world a long, long time to get to even where it is today. Your Honor, if you hang these boys, you turn back to the past. I'm pleading for the future. Not merely for these boys, but for all boys, for all the young. I'm pleading, not for these two lives, but for life itself, for a time when we can learn to overcome hatred with love, when we can learn that all life is worth saving, and that mercy is the highest attribute of men. Yes, I'm pleading for the future. In this court of law, I'm pleading for love.






Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Screenwriter(s): Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Introduction of a Film About Grave Robbers From Outer Space

The bizarre, rambling opening speech by psychic Criswell (as himself) that introduced Ed Wood, Jr.'s infamous film:

Greetings, my friends! We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friends; future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable; that is why you are here. And now for the first time we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that faithful day. We are giving you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimonies of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places, my friends, we can not keep this a secret any longer; let us punish the guilty, let us reward the innocent. My friends, can your heart stand the shocking facts about the grave robbers from outer space?

Some Like It Hot (1959)
Screenwriter(s): Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond

Bad Luck "Fuzzy End of the Lollipop" Speech

Band singer and ukulele player Sugar Kane/Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe) gave a 'fuzzy end of the lollipop' speech about bad luck, mostly with saxophone players, to Josephine (Tony Curtis) in the Ladies' Room of the train during a late-night party with the other girls. As she chipped away at a block of ice, she described how she was an abused, melancholy alcoholic running away from all-male bands. Sugar confessed that she had always had bad luck with her lovers, when she easily turned weak from music ("All they have to do is play eight bars of 'Come to Me, My Melancholy Baby' and my spine turns to custard"). She talked to him about how she inevitably weakened and fell for male saxophone players in male groups and then ended up being dumped by them:

I'm not very bright, I guess...just dumb. If I had any brains, I wouldn't be on this crummy train with this crummy girls' band...I used to sing with male bands but I can't afford it anymore...That's what I'm running away from. I worked with six different ones in the last two years. Oh, brother!...I can't trust myself. I have this thing about saxophone players, especially tenor sax...I don't know what it is, they just curdle me. All they have to do is play eight bars of 'Come to Me, My Melancholy Baby' and my spine turns to custard. I get goose pimply all over and I come to 'em...every time...

That's why I joined this band. Safety first. Anything to get away from those bums...You don't know what they're like. You fall for 'em and you really love 'em - you think this is gonna be the biggest thing since the Graf Zeppelin - and the next thing you know, they're borrowing money from you and spending it on other dames and betting on horses...Then one morning you wake up, the guy is gone, the saxophone's gone, all that's left behind is a pair of old socks and a tube of toothpaste, all squeezed out. So you pull yourself together. You go on to the next job, the next saxophone player. It's the same thing all over again. You see what I mean? Not very bright...

I can tell you one thing - it's not gonna happen to me again - ever. I'm tired of getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop.





Best Film Speeches and Monologues
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Introduction
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