Best Film Speeches and Monologues
||Film Title/Year and Description of Film Speech/Monologue
Screenwriter(s): Ted Allan, John Cassavetes
Know This Looks Crazy, But..."
Play clip (excerpt):
In a comic-pathetic scene, recently divorced
Sarah Lawson's (Gene Rowlands) gave a nervous, upbeat explanation
to her alcoholic writer brother Robert Harmon (John Cassavetes)
about why she purchased and adopted farm animals and brought
them in a taxi-cab to his house to give him "something
I-I know this looks crazy, but, but, I just
got carried away. I mean, I couldn't resist these! These,
these are miniature horses! Aren't they small? (laughing)
I was gonna take one, but then I figured they'd get lonely,
and if you have one, you know, you might as well have two,
and so I just - come on, sweetheart! Anyway, the goat,
uh, the goat gives milk, so that's not a waste. And, and
the chickens, and the duck, well, uh, they'll have eggs
- eventually - and we can eat those. And, and we'll, we'll
all live here at the park! Ah, well, we'll talk about it
in a minute. I'm gonna take these in, and, and give them
a little food and some water, because it was really hot
coming over...It's gonna be alright, Robert.
Screenwriter(s): Michael Radford
Had a Young Face"
The nightmarish memory of Winston Smith (John
Hurt) as he wrote in his journal - a recollection of a past
visitation with a Whore (Shirley Stelfox) in the off-limits
proletarian areas - her seemingly youthful beauty masked a
middle-aged, homely, bruised and repulsive woman:
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.
If they could become conscious of their own strength, there
would be no need to conspire. History does not matter to
them. It was three years ago on a dark evening. Easy to
slip the patrols, and I'd gone into the proletarian areas.
There was no one else on the street, and no tele-screens.
She said: 'Two dollars,' so I went with her. She had a
young face, painted very thick. It was really the paint
that appealed to me: the whiteness of it like a mask, and
the bright red lips. (She hiked up her skirt) There
were no preliminaries. Standing there with the scent of
dead insects and cheap perfume, I went ahead and did it
just the same.
Paris, Texas (1984,
Screenwriter(s): Sam Shepard
Knew These People"
In one of the best sets
of monologues in recent film history, Travis (Harry Dean Stanton)
met up for the first time with separated wife Jane (Nastassja
Kinski), while separated by a one-way peep-show mirror. He
was silent for many minutes as she asked patiently: "Is
there something I can do for ya?" He first spoke when
he declined to have her remove her red sweater, and then told
her: "I don't want anything...I wanna talk to you." She
asked: "Is there something you want to tell me?...You
can tell me, I can keep a secret." She added that she
mostly talked and listened to clients. He wondered: "What
else do you do?" She laughed nervously: "We're not
allowed to see the customers out of here...We're not allowed
to have any outside relationships with the customers."
He snapped back: "You can go home with me if you want to.
All these places say that. I mean, how much extra money do you
make? How much money do you make on the side?" When she
suggested that he talk to one of the other girls, he refused.
She added: "I just don't think I'm the one you want to talk
to," but she remained in the room, as he continued to be
During their second encounter, Travis delivered
an 8-minute "I knew these people" monologue,
a summation of their own life together, while Jane was unable
to see him - until she recognized their life in his story -
and the climactic moment when he turned off the light so she
could view him:
I knew these people. These two people. They
were in love with each other. The girl was very young,
about 17 or 18, I guess. And the guy was quite a bit older.
He was kind of raggedy and wild. And she was very beautiful,
you know...And together they turned everything into a kind
of adventure. And she liked that. Just an ordinary trip
down to the grocery store was full of adventure. They were
always laughing at stupid things. He liked to make her
laugh, and they didn't much care for anything else because
all they wanted to do was be with each other. They were
always together...Yes, they were, they were real happy.
And he, he loved her more than he ever felt possible. He
couldn't stand being away from her during the day when
he went to work. So he'd quit, just to be home with her.
Then he'd get another job when the money ran out, and then
he'd quit again. But pretty soon, she started to worry...Money,
I guess. Not having enough. Not knowing when the next check
was coming in. So he started to get kind of torn inside...Well,
he knew he had to work to support her, but he couldn't
stand being away from her either...And the more he was
away from her, the crazier he got, except now, he got really
crazy. He started imagining all kinds of things. He started
thinking that she was seeing other men on the sly. He'd
come home from work and accuse her of spending the day
with somebody else. He'd yell at her and break things in
the trailer...Yes, they lived in a trailer home...
Anyway, he started to drink real bad, and he'd
stay out late to test her...to see if she'd get jealous.
He wanted her to get jealous, but she didn't. She just worried
about him but that got him even madder...because he thought
if she never got jealous about him, that she didn't really
care about him. Jealousy was a sign of her love for him.
And then one night, one night, she told him that she was
pregnant. She was about three or four months pregnant. And
he didn't even know, and then suddenly everything changed.
He stopped drinking and got a steady job. He was convinced
that she loved him now, because she was carrying his child.
And he was going to dedicate himself to making a home for
her. But a funny thing started to happen...He didn't even
notice it at first. She started to change. From the day the
baby was born, she began to get irritated with everything
around her. She got mad at everything. Even the baby seemed
to be an injustice to her. He kept trying to make everything
all right for her. Buy her things. Take her out to dinner
once a week. But nothing seemed to satisfy her. For two years,
he struggled to pull them back together like they were when
they first met, but finally he knew that it was never gonna
work out. So he hit the bottle again. But this time it got
mean. This time, when he came home late at night, she wasn't
worried about him, or jealous, she was just enraged. She
accused him of holding her captive by making her have a baby.
She told him that she dreamed about escaping. That was all she
dreamed about: escape. She saw herself at night running naked
down a highway, running across fields, running down riverbeds,
always running. And always, just when she was about to get
away, he'd be there. He would stop her somehow. He would
just appear and stop her.
And when she told him these dreams, he believed
them. He knew she had to be stopped or she'd leave him forever.
So he tied a cow bell to her ankle so he could hear her at
night if she tried to get out of bed. But she learned how
to muffle the bell by stuffing a sock into it, and inching
her way out of the bed and into the night. He caught her
one night when the sock fell out and he heard her trying
to run to the highway. He caught her and dragged her back
to the trailer, and tied her to the stove with his belt.
He just left her there and went back to bed and lay there
listening to her scream. Then he listened to his son scream,
and he was surprised at himself because he didn't feel anything
anymore. All he wanted to do was sleep.
And for the first time, he wished he were far
away. Lost in a deep, vast country where nobody knew him.
Somewhere without language, or streets. And he dreamed about
this place without knowing its name. And when he woke up,
he was on fire. There were blue flames burning the sheets
of his bed. He ran through the flames toward the only two
people he loved, but they were gone. His arms were burning,
and he threw himself outside and rolled on the wet ground.
Then he ran. He never looked back at the fire. He just ran.
He ran until the sun came up and he couldn't run any further.
And when the sun went down, he ran again. For five days he
ran like this until every sign of man had disappeared.
Screenwriter: Buck Henry, from story by Charles Shyer, Nancy Meyers,
and Harvey Miller
Up and Taking Responsibility For Our Government - Promising
To Watch Everything "Like a Hawk"
Naive, mid-30s, nightclub waitress Sunny Davis
(Goldie Hawn) at a men's club, Lou Fox's Safari Club in DC, accidentally
foiled an assassination and saved an Arabian potentate. Subsequently,
she was offered a post in the State Department as a protocol
officer - a pawn in the inner dealings of Washington.
Soon, she faced a Congressional inquiry into
her knowledge of nefarious dealings in the government, dubbed
"Sunnygate". During the questioning, she acknowledged that
she took a "protocol" job ("with no practical expertise") and
without understanding the full implications of her position
or the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. She took
the blame: "I'm responsible" and refused to blame the bureaucrats
who had set her up - and then she promised to be more responsible
and vigilant in the future:
You wanna know something? That before I started
to work for the government, I'd never read the Constitution.
I didn't even begin to know how things worked. I didn't.
I didn't read the newspaper, except to look at my horoscope,
and I never read the Declaration of Independence. But I
know they had, the
ones we're talking about - the 'experts' - they
all read it. They just forgot what it's about, that it's
about 'We the People.' And that's me. I'm 'We
the People', and you're 'We the People', and
all of us, we're all 'We the People', right? So when
they sell me that ten-cent diamond, or down the river, or -
or to some guy who wears a lot of medals, that means they're
selling all of us, all of 'We the People.' And when
mean, when you guys, when you spend another pile of money,
and when you give away or sell all those guns and tanks and
planes, and every time you invite another foreign big-shot
to the White House and hug and kiss them and give them presents,
it has a direct effect on 'We the People''s lives!
So if we don't - I mean, if I don't know what you're up to, and
if I - if I don't holler and scream when I think you're doing
it wrong, and if I just mind my own business and don't vote or
care, then I just get what I deserve. So now that I'm Sunny Davis,
private citizen again, you're gonna have to watch out
for me, 'cause I'm gonna be watching all of you - like a hawk!
Screenwriter(s): James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd
About the Terminator - "It Absolutely Will Not Stop..."
Play clip (excerpt):
Tech-Com protector Kyle Reese's (Michael Biehn)
description and warning about the unemotional, relentless cyborg
killer Model 101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to Sarah Connor (Linda
Hamilton), while driving and pursued:
I'm Reese, sergeant, TechCom DN38416 assigned
to protect you. You've been targeted for termination...It's
very important that you live....(The Terminator) He's not
a man - a machine. A Terminator. A Cyberdyne Systems Model
101...Not a robot. A cyborg. A cybernetic organism...The
Terminator's an infiltration unit, part man, part machine.
Underneath, it's a hyper-alloy combat chassis - microprocessor-controlled,
fully armored. Very tough. But outside, it's living human
tissue - flesh, skin, hair, blood, grown for the cyborgs...The
600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy. But these
are new, they look human. Sweat, bad breath, everything.
Very hard to spot...
Then he famously and harshly warned her:
Cyborgs don't feel pain, I do. Don't do
that again. (Sarah: "Just let me go!") Listen,
and understand! That Terminator is out there! It can't
be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't
feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will
not stop, ever, until you are dead!
Year We Make Contact (1984)
Screenwriter(s): Peter Hyams
World of Two Suns"
Play clip (excerpt):
Heywood Floyd's (Roy Scheider) letter to his
son while returning to Earth from Jupiter, in the film's finale:
My dear Christopher: This is the last time
I'll be able to speak to you for a long while. I'm trying
to put into words what has happened. Maybe that's for historians
to do sometime later. They will record that the next day,
the President of the United States looked out of the White
House window and the Premier of the Soviet Union looked
out of the Kremlin window, and saw the new distant sun
in the sky. They read the message, and perhaps they learned
something because they finally recalled their ships and
their planes. I am going to sleep now. I will dream of
you and your mother. I will sleep knowing that you are
both safe, that the fear is over. We have seen the process
of life take place. Maybe this is the way it happened on
Earth millions of years ago. Maybe it's something completely
I still don't know really what the monolith
is. I think it's many things. An embassy for an intelligence
beyond ours. A shape of some kind for something that has
no shape. Your children will be born in a world of two suns.
They will never know a sky without them. You can tell them
that you remember when there was a pitch black sky with no
bright star, and people feared the night. You can tell them
when we were alone, when we couldn't point to the light and
say to ourselves - 'There is life out there.' Someday, the
children of the new sun will meet the children of the old.
I think they will be our friends. You can tell your children
of the day when everyone looked up and realized that we were
only tenants of this world. We have been given a new lease
and a warning from the landlord.
The Color Purple
Screenwriter(s): Menno Meyjes
In a cornfield, high-spirited and raging Sofia
(Oprah Winfrey), married to Harpo Johnson (Willard E. Pugh),
confronted poor African-American Celie Harris Johnson (Whoopi
Goldberg) (who was married to abusive black widower named Albert
Johnson, aka "Mister" (Danny Glover), father of Harpo)
about her advice to have Harpo beat her up. She refused to
tolerate the threatened abuse:
You told Harpo to beat me!..All my life I
had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my
uncles. I had to fight my brothers. Girl child ain't safe
in a family of mens. But I ain't never thought I had to
fight in my own house! I loves Harpo. God knows I do. But
I'll kill him dead 'fore I let him beat me...Now you want
a dead son-in-law, Miss Celie? You keep on advisin' him
like you're doin'...Girl, you oughta bash Mister's head
open and think about heaven later!
During a family dinner
years later, prematurely gray-haired and almost catatonic Sofia
revived when she tearfully recalled being jailed for making
a rude remark ("Hell no!) to the mayor's wife, and for
punching the mayor himself. She was often beaten while incarcerated,
and disfigured, and thanked Miss Celie for giving her hope:
Sat in that jail, I sat in that jail 'til
I near about done rot to death. I know what it like, Miss
Celie, to wanna go somewhere and can't. I know what it
like to wanna sing and have it beat out 'ya. I want to
thank you, Miss Celie, for everything you done for me.
I 'members that day I was in the store with Miss Millie
- I's feelin' real down. I's feelin' mighty bad. And when
I seed you - I know'd there is a God. I know'd there is
a God. And one day, I was gonna get to come home.
Screenwriter(s): Chris Columbus
The confession by fat kid Lawrence 'Chunk' Cohen
(Jeff Cohen) when interrogated by the Fratellis and he spilled
Everything. OK! I'll talk! In third grade,
I cheated on my history exam. In fourth grade, I stole
my uncle Max's toupee and I glued it on my face when I
played Moses in my Hebrew School play. In fifth grade,
I knocked my sister Edie down the stairs and I blamed it
on the dog... When my Mom sent me to the summer camp for
fat kids and then they served lunch, I got nuts and I pigged
out and they kicked me out. But the worst thing I ever
done - I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went
to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed
up to the balcony and then, t-t-then, I made a noise like
this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa - and then I dumped it over
the side, all over the people in the audience. And t-t-then,
this was horrible, all the people started gettin' sick
and throwin' up all over each other. I never felt so bad
in my entire life.
Screenwriter(s): Kurt Luedtke
Had a Farm in Africa..."
Play clip (excerpt):
The sweeping epic opened with a flashback monologue
(voice-over) of older Danish Baroness and author/writer Karen
Blixen (Meryl Streep), as she slept and then awoke to write
- she reflected back on her love of Africa and game hunter
Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford):
He even took the Gramophone on safari. Three
rifles, supplies for a month and Mozart. He began our friendship
with a gift. And later, not long before Tsavo, he gave
me another. An incredible gift. A glimpse of the world
through God's eye. And I thought: 'Yes, I see. This is
the way it was intended.' I've written about all the others,
not because I loved them less, but because they were clearer,
easier. He was waiting for me there. But I've gone ahead
of my story. He'd have hated that. Denys loved to hear
a story told well.
You see, I had a farm in Africa at the foot
of the Ngong Hills. But it began before that. It really began
in Denmark. (gunshots) And there I knew two brothers.
One was my lover, and one was my friend.
Screenwriter(s): Kurt Luedtke
Memorial to Her Lover
Play clip (excerpt):
After her free-spirited lover Denys Finch Hatton
(Robert Redford) died in a plane crash at Tsavo in Africa,
Baroness Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) attended the outdoor burial/funeral
in the Ngong Hills, and delivered a memorial reading from A.E.
Houseman's "To An Athlete Dying Young":
The time you won your town the race, we
cheered you through the market-place. Man and boy stood
cheering by, as home we brought you shoulder-high.
Smart lad to slip betimes away, from fields where glory does
not stay, early though the laurel grows, it withers quicker
than a rose.
Now you will not swell the rout of lads that wore their honors
out, runners whom renown outran, and the name died 'fore
And round that early-laurelled head will flock to gaze the
strengthless dead, and find unwithered on its curls, a garland
briefer than a girl's.
Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch
Hatton, whom you have shared with us. He brought us joy,
and we loved him well. He was not ours. He was not mine.
The film concluded with another poetic voice-over
recollection, beginning as she walked away from the grave,
after resisting the European custom of throwing a handful dirt
onto the coffin, and as she prepared to leave Africa for good:
If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe
and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows
in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers,
does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain
quiver with a color that I have had on? Or will the children
invent a game in which my name is? Or the full moon throw
a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me?
Or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?
Back in Denmark, she read a letter (in voice-over),
"The Masai have reported to the district commissioner at
Ngong that many times, at sunrise and sunset, they have seen
lions on Finch Hatton's grave. A lion and a lioness have come
there and stood or lain on the grave for a long time. After you
went away, the ground around the grave was leveled out into a
sort of terrace. I suppose that the level place makes a good
site for the lions. From there, they have a view over the plain
and the cattle and game on it."
Denys will like that. I
must remember to tell him.