Best Film Speeches
and Monologues

1939


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

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Screenwriter(s): Sidney Buchman

Senate Filibuster Speech (part 2) - "Lost Causes"

Top Pick

Play clip (excerpt): Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

After over 23 hours of filibustering, exhausted and hoarse-voiced Senator Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) gave the final segment of his filibuster speech with an exposition on moral integrity and American democracy:

There's no compromise with truth. That's all I got up on this floor to say. When was it? A year ago, it seems like....

Just get up off the ground. That's all I ask. Get up there with that lady, that's up on top of this Capitol Dome. That lady that stands for Liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see somethin'. And you won't just see scenery. You'll see the whole parade of what man's carved out for himself after centuries of fighting. And fighting for something better than just jungle law. Fighting so as he can stand on his own two feet free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft or greed or lies! Or compromise with human liberties! And if that's what the grown-ups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it's not too late. Because this country is bigger than the Taylors or you or me or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here. You just have to see them again...

To defeat Smith, hundreds of "Taylor-made" phony telegrams from constituents in his state were manufactured. Senator Paine was granted permission to bring in "evidence of the response" from his state. Baskets, wire barrels and bundles of stacks of 50,000 wired telegrams from constituents were deposited in the front of the Senate chamber. Paine held up a fistful, telling Smith that they all demanded that he yield the floor and give up his filibuster: "The people's answer to Jefferson Smith." Jefferson staggered forward in disbelief to look at the telegrams, pawing through them and desperately looking for some evidence of support. In a symbolic crucifixion stance, he grabbed two large fistfuls and held them out, and expounded on 'lost causes' before collapsing to the Senate floor:

I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don't know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for. And he fought for them once, for the only reason that any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor.' And in this world today, full of hatred, a man who knows that one rule has a great trust. You know that rule, Mr. Paine. And I loved you for it, just as my father did. And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any others. Yes, you even die for them. Like a man we both knew, Mr. Paine.

You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well, I'm not licked. And I'm gonna stay right here and fight for this lost cause, even if this room gets filled with lies like these. And the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place. Somebody will listen to me. Some...






Ninotchka (1939)
Screenwriter(s): Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Walter Reisch

"I Guess One Gets the Face One Deserves"

Self-absorbed, ultra-sophisticated noblewoman, Russian Grand Duchess Swana (Ina Claire), living in exile in the French capital of Paris, complained to suave, playboyish boyfriend Count Leon d'Algout (Melvyn Douglas) about what her face looked like in the morning:

Oh, it's really a wretched morning, wretched. I can't get myself right. I wanted to look mellow and I look brittle. My face doesn't compose well. It's all highlights. How can I dim myself down, Leon? Suggest something. Oh, I'm so bored with this face. I wish I had someone else's face. Whose face would you have if you had your choice? Oh well, I guess one gets the face one deserves.


Ninotchka (1939)
Screenwriter(s): Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Walter Reisch

"Surely You Feel Some Slight Symptom of the Divine Passion?"

Count Leon (Melvyn Douglas) delivered a wonderful monologue about passion and love, expressing his overwhelming desire for the Soviet Union's special enjoy Ninotchka (Greta Garbo), when the clock struck midnight and he told her: "One half of Paris is making love to the other half":

Oh, you analyze everything out of existence. You'd analyze me out of existence, but I won't let you. Love isn't so simple, Ninotchka. Ninotchka, why do doves bill and coo? Why do snails, the coldest of all creatures, circle interminably around each other? Why do moths fly hundreds of miles to find their mates? Why do flowers slowly open their petals? Oh, Ninotchka, Ninotchka, surely you feel some slight symptom of the divine passion? A general warmth in the palms of your hands, a strange heaviness in your limbs, a burning of the lips that isn't thirst but something a thousand times more tantalizing, more exalting, than thirst?

She only responded: "You're very talkative." Unable to contain himself, he planted a kiss on her lips - and she reciprocated.



Stagecoach (1939)
Screenwriter(s): Dudley Nichols

Indignation at the US Government From A Hypocritical Banker

During a stagecoach journey through Indian territory, pompous, blustering and self-important banker Henry Gatewood (Berton Churchill) lashed out toward government regulation of banks, while clutching his large briefcase containing embezzled funds (amounting to $50,000) in front of him. Gatewood pompously berated the "impetulance of that young lieutenant" and his perceived lack of protection from the Army:

I can't get over the impertinence of that young lieutenant. I'll make it warm for that shave-tail! I'll report him to Washington. We pay taxes to the government and what do we get? Not even protection from the Army!

I don't know what the government is coming to. Instead of protecting businessmen, it pokes its nose into business. Hmm. Why, they're even talking now about having bank examiners. As if we bankers don't know how to run our own banks. Why Boone, I actually have a letter from a popinjay official saying they were going to inspect my books. I have a slogan that should be emblazoned on every newspaper in the country. 'America for Americans.' The government must not interfere with business! Reduce taxes! Our national debt is something shocking! Over one billion dollars a year! What this country needs is a businessman for President.


The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Screenwriter(s): Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf

Cowardly Lion's Words on Courage

Play clip (excerpt): The Wizard of Oz

The Cowardly Lion's (Bert Lahr) speech/song on courage:

Courage! What makes a King out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the Sphinx the Seventh Wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the ape in ape-ricot? What have they got that I ain't got? (Courage) You can say that again!

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Screenwriter(s): Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf

"I'm Melting! Melting!"

Play clip (excerpt): The Wizard of Oz

The death scene of the green-faced, cackling Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) when Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) accidentally doused her with water when trying to put out the Scarecrow's (Ray Bolger) fire from her broomstick:

Ah, ha, ha ,ha, ha. Well! Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of - spears. Thought you'd be pretty foxy, didn't ya? Well, the last to go will see the first three go before her. Ha, ha, ha. And her mangy little dog, too. How about a little fire, Scarecrow? (The witch set the Scarecrow ablaze with her broomstick)

Ah, ha, ha, aha... Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!! You cursed brat! Look what you've done!! I'm melting! Melting! Ohhhhh, what a world, what a world! Who would have thought that some little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness. Ohhhhhh!!! No!!! No!!! I'm going. Ohhhhhhh. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh...




The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Screenwriter(s): Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf

Presentation of Gifts by the Wizard

Play clip 1 (excerpt): The Wizard of Oz
Play clip 2 (excerpt): The Wizard of Oz
Play clip 3 (excerpt): The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard's (Frank Morgan) presentation of gifts to the three companions of Dorothy:

To the Scarecrow, a Brain: (clip 1)

Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have! But they have one thing you haven't got - a diploma. Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitatus Committeatum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th. D...that's Doctor of Thinkology.

To the Cowardly Lion, Courage: (clip 2)

As for you, my fine friend, you're a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You're confusing courage with wisdom. Back where I come from, we have men who are called heroes. Once a year, they take their fortitude out of moth balls and parade it down the main street of the city and they have no more courage than you have. But they have one thing that you haven't got - a medal. Therefore, for meritorious conduct, extraordinary valor, conspicuous bravery against Wicked Witches, I award you the Triple Cross. You are now a member of the Legion of Courage.

To the Tin Woodsman, a Heart: (clip 3)

...Back where I come from, there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila-, er, er, philanth-er, yes, er, good-deed doers, and their hearts are no bigger than yours. But they have one thing you haven't got - a testimonial. Therefore, in consideration of your kindness, I take pleasure at this time in presenting you with a small token of our esteem and affection. And remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Screenwriter(s): Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf

"There's No Place Like Home"

Play clip (excerpt): The Wizard of Oz

In her Kansas farmhouse bedroom, young Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) told everyone that "there's no place like Home" upon returning from the magical land of Oz:

But it wasn't a dream. It was a place. And you and you and you - and you were there. But you couldn't have been, could you?...No, Aunt Em, this was a real, truly live place. And I remember that some of it wasn't very nice, but most of it was beautiful. But just the same all I kept saying to everybody was 'I want to go home,' and they sent me home! Doesn't anybody believe me? But anyway, Toto, we're home! Home. And this is my room, and you're all here and I'm not gonna leave here ever, ever again. Because I love you all. And - Oh Auntie Em! There's no place like home!





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