Best Film Speeches
and Monologues

1997


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

Air Force One (1997)
Screenwriter(s): Andrew W. Marlowe

Surprise Anti-Terrorism Speech to Russians

Play clip (excerpt): Air Force One

US President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) delivered a surprise, stirring anti-terrorism speech (to the dismay of his advisors) at a podium in front of the Russian Senate at a state dinner. He first spoke in Russian (translated), and then continued in English:

The dead remember our indifference. The dead remember our silence. I came here tonight to be congratulated. But today when I visited the Red Cross camps, overwhelmed by the flood of refugees fleeing from the horror of Kazakhstan, I realized I don't deserve to be congratulated. None of us do. Let's speak the truth. And the truth is, we acted too late. Only when our own national security was threatened did we act. Radek's regime murdered over 200,000 men, women and children and we watched it on TV. We let it happen. People were being slaughtered for over a year and we issued economical sanctions and hid behind a rhetoric of diplomacy. How dare we? The dead remember. Real peace is not just the absence of conflict, it's the presence of justice. And tonight, I come to you with a pledge to change America's policy. Never again will I allow our political self-interest to deter us from doing what we know to be morally right. Atrocity and terror are not political weapons and to those who would use them - Your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and we will no longer be afraid. It's your turn to be afraid.


Amistad (1997)
Screenwriter(s): David Franzoni

Declaring the Independence of Slaves

Play clip (excerpt): Amistad

Former President John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) provided a defense of the Amistad African captives, including Joseph Cinque (Djimon Hounsou). His passionate defense, to free the slaves who had mutinied against their ship in 1839, was brought before the US Supreme Court, composed of Southern slave-owning judges. The 1841 case included a demonstration of the truths of the Declaration of Independence, an invocation of the spirit of the Founding Fathers, and Adams' suggestion that the decision might provoke a civil war ("the last battle of the American Revolution"):

Your Honors, I derive much consolation from the fact that my colleague, Mr. Baldwin, here, has argued the case in so able and so complete a manner as to leave me scarcely anything to say. However, why are we here? How is it that a simple, plain property issue should now find itself so enobled as to be argued before the Supreme Court of the United States of America? I mean, do we fear the lower courts, which found for us easily, somehow missed the truth? Is that it? Or is it, rather, our great and consuming fear of civil war that has allowed us to heap symbolism upon a simple case that never asked for it and now would have us disregard truth, even as it stands before us, tall and proud as a mountain? The truth, in truth, has been driven from this case like a slave, flogged from court to court, wretched and destitute. And not by any great legal acumen on the part of the opposition, I might add, but through the long, powerful arm of the Executive Office. Yea, this is no mere property case, gentlemen. I put it to you thus: This is the most important case ever to come before this court. Because what it, in fact, concerns is the very nature of man...

And this is a publication of the Office of the President. And it's called the Executive Review, and I'm sure you all read it. At least I'm sure the President hopes you all read it. This is a recent issue, and there's an article in here written by a 'keen mind of the South,' who is my former Vice President, John Calhoun, perhaps, could it be? - who asserts that: 'There has never existed a civilized society in which one segment did not thrive upon the labor of another. As far back as one chooses to look - to ancient times, to Biblical times - history bears this out. In Eden, where only two were created, even there, one was pronounced subordinate to the other. Slavery has always been with us and is neither sinful nor immoral. Rather, as war and antagonism are the natural states of man, so too, slavery, as natural as it is inevitable.'

Now, gentlemen, I must say I differ with the keen minds of the South, and with our President, who apparently shares their views, offering that the natural state of mankind is, instead - and I know this is a controversial idea - is freedom, is freedom. And the proof is the length to which a man, woman, or child will go to regain it, once taken. He will break loose his chains. He will decimate his enemies. He will try and try and try against all odds, against all prejudices, to get home. Cinque, would you stand up, if you would, so everyone can see you.

This man is black. We can all see that. But can we also see as easily that which is equally true -- that he is the only true hero in this room. Now, if he were white, he wouldn't be standing before this court fighting for his life. If he were white and his enslavers were British, he wouldn't be able to stand, so heavy the weight of the medals and honors we would bestow upon him. Songs would be written about him. The great authors of our times would fill books about him. His story would be told and retold in our classrooms. Our children, because we would make sure of it, would know his name as well as they know Patrick Henry's. Yet, if the South is right, what are we to do with that embarrassing, annoying document, The Declaration of Independence? What of its conceits? 'All men...created equal,' 'inalienable rights,' 'life,' 'liberty,' and so on and so forth? What on earth are we to do with this? I have a modest suggestion.

Then, he tore in half a copy of the Declaration.

The other night I was talking with my friend, Cinque. He was over at my place, and uh, we were out in the greenhouse together. And he was explaining to me how when a member of the Mende - that's his people - how when a member of the Mende encounters a situation where there appears no hope at all, he invokes his ancestors. It's a tradition. See, the Mende believe that if one can summon the spirits of one's ancestors, then they have never left, and the wisdom and strength they fathered and inspired will come to his aid.

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams. We have long resisted asking you for guidance. Perhaps we have feared in doing so we might acknowledge that our individuality which we so, so revere is not entirely our own. Perhaps we've feared an appeal to you might be taken for weakness. But, we've come to understand, finally, that this is not so. We understand now, we've been made to understand, and to embrace the understanding that who we are is who we were.

We desperately need your strength and wisdom to triumph over our fears, our prejudices, ourselves. Give us the courage to do what is right. And if it means civil war, then let it come. And when it does, may it be, finally, the last battle of the American Revolution. That's all I have to say.







As Good As It Gets (1997)
Screenwriter(s): Mark Andrus, James L. Brooks

"Never, Never Interrupt Me"

Play clip (excerpt): As Good As It Gets

Obsessive-compulsive writer Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) offered an angry rant against his gay NYC artist neighbor Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear) for interrupting him at his Manhattan apartment building door:

Do you realize that I work at home?...Do you like to be interrupted when you are dancing around in your little garden?...Well, I work all the time. So never, never, interrupt me, okay? Not if there's a fire, not even if you hear the sound of a thud from my home and one week later, there's a smell coming from there that can only be a decaying human body and you have to hold a hanky to your face because the stench is so thick that you think you're gonna faint. Even then, don't come knocking.

Or, if it's election night, and you're excited and you want to celebrate because some fudgepacker that you date has been elected the first queer president of the United States and he's going to have you down to Camp David, and you want someone to share the moment with. Even then, don't knock. Not on this door. Not for any reason. Do you get me, sweetheart?


As Good As It Gets (1997)
Screenwriter(s): Mark Andrus, James L. Brooks

"The Greatest Woman on Earth"

Misanthropic author Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) finally professed his love for single mother/waitress Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt):

I might be the only person on the face of the earth that knows you're the greatest woman on earth. I might be the only one who appreciates how amazing you are in every single thing that you do, and how you are with Spencer - 'Spence' - and in every single thought that you have, and how you say what you mean, and how you almost always mean something that's all about being straight and good. I think most people miss that about you, and I watch them, wondering how they can watch you bring their food, and clear their tables and never get that they just met the greatest woman alive. And the fact that I get it makes me feel good, about me.

Is that something that's, uh, bad for you to be around, for you?


Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Screenwriter(s): Mike Myers

The Details of My Childhood

Play clip (excerpt): Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

In a family counseling group therapy session led by a therapist (uncredited Carrie Fisher), Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) described his upbringing -- with inappropriate details:

The details of my life are quite inconsequential.... Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year-old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes, he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring, we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent, I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds - pretty standard, really. At the age of twelve, I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum... it's breathtaking - I suggest you try it.

Boogie Nights (1997)
Screenwriter(s): Paul Thomas Anderson

"I'm A Star, I'm A Star, I'm A Star"

In the film's last lines, well-endowed, drug-addicted porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) practiced his lines before a mirror:

I've been around this block twice now looking for something - a clue. Been looking for clues and something led me back here, yeah, so here I am. Could've been me who was at Ringo's place when the s--t went down. Hey, I know how it is, I've been there. We've all done bad things. We've all had those guilty feelings in our hearts. You wanna take your brain out of your head and wash it and scrub it and make it clean. Well, no, but I'm gonna help you settle this. First we're gonna check for holes and see what we can find. Then, we're gonna get nice and wet, so you're gonna spread your legs. Oh, that's good, so you know me, you know my reputation. Thirteen inches is a tough load, I don't treat you gently. That's right. I'm Brock Landers. So I'm gonna be nice, and I'm gonna ask you one more time. Where the f--k is Ringo?

He stood up, unzipped his pants, and pulled out his 13 inch-long penis, and added:

I am a star. I'm a star, I'm a star, I'm a star. I am a big, bright, shining star. That's right.


Chasing Amy (1997)
Screenwriter(s): Kevin Smith

"I Am Forever Changed Because of Who You Are" - A Confession of Love

No longer able to hold back his feelings, Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) confessed his love for his best friend Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), a fellow comic book artist - and a lesbian. He stopped his car, turned to her, and blurted out:

I love you....I love you. And not, not in a friendly way, although I think we're great friends. And not in a misplaced affection, puppy-dog way, although I'm sure that's what you'll call it. I love you. Very, very simple, very truly. You are the-the epitome of everything I have ever looked for in another human being. And I know that you think of me as just a friend, and crossing that line is-is-is the furthest thing from an option you would ever consider. But - I had to say it. I just, I can't take this anymore. I can't stand next to you without wanting to hold you. I can't-I can't look into your eyes without feeling that-that longing you only read about in trashy romance novels. I can't talk to you without wanting to express my love for everything you are.

And I know, this will probably queer our friendship - no pun intended - but I had to say it, 'cause I've never felt this way before, and I-I don't care. I like who I am because of it. And if bringing this to light means we can't hang out anymore, then that hurts me. But God, I just, I couldn't allow another day to go by without just getting it out there, regardless of the outcome, which by the look on your face is to be the inevitable shoot-down. And, you know, I'll accept that. But I know, I know that some part of you is hesitating for a moment, and if there's a moment of hesitation, then that means you feel something too. And all I ask, please, is that you just - you just not dismiss that, and try to dwell in it for just ten seconds.

Alyssa, there isn't another soul on this f--king planet who has ever made me half the person I am when I'm with you, and I would risk this friendship for the chance to take it to the next plateau. Because it is there between you and me. You can't deny that. Even if, you know, even if we never talk again after tonight, please know that I am forever changed because of who you are and what you've meant to me, which - while I do appreciate it - I'd never need a painting of birds bought at a diner to remind me of.





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