Best Film Speeches
and Monologues

1998


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

American History X (1998)
Screenwriter(s): David McKenna

"We Must Not Be Enemies"

Vengeful Neo-Nazi skinhead and violent ex-con white supremacist Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) cradled the bloodied body of his dead brother Danny (Edward Furlong) in his arms in a school bathroom, after he had been shot three times in front of a bank of urinals by another black student. A reformed Derek realized that he had been unable to prevent his younger sibling from going down a similarly violent life path ("Oh God, what did I do?").

Danny provided the narration for the film's concluding voice-over, reading part of the conclusion of his paper for his "American History X" class, quoting in part from the conclusion of Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, as images of a Venice Beach sunset were shown:

So I guess this is where I tell you what I learned - my conclusion, right? Well, my conclusion is: Hate is baggage. Life's too short to be pissed off all the time. It's just not worth it. Derek says it's always good to end a paper with a quote. He says someone else has already said it best. So if you can't top it, steal from them and go out strong. So I picked a guy I thought you'd like.

'We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.'



Antz (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Todd Alcott, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz

The Insignificance of Being an Ant

The animated film's main character was neurotic drone ant Z-4195 (or "Z"/Zee) (voice of Woody Allen), living in a conformist, totalitarian ant society, without any individuality. In his opening monologue, he complained about his insignificant life during therapy to his psychologist (Paul Mazursky), who concluded their discussion with the statement that Zee had made a break-through: ("Yes, Z, you are insignificant"):

All my life, I've lived and worked in the big city, which now that I think of it, is kind of a problem since I always feel uncomfortable around crowds. I mean it, I-I have this fear of enclosed spaces. I-I-I, everything makes me feel trapped all the time. You know, I always tell myself, there's gotta be something better out there, but maybe I think too much. I-I-I think everything must go back to the fact that I had a very anxious childhood. You know, my, my mother never had time for me. You know, when you're - when you're the middle child in a family of five million, you don't get any attention. I mean, how's it possible? And I've always had these, these abandonment issues, which plagued me. My father was basically a drone like I've said, and, you know, the guy flew away when I was just a larva. And my job, don't get me started on, 'cause it really annoys me. I was not cut out to be a worker, I'll tell you right now. I-I-I feel physically inadequate. I, I, my whole life I've never, I've never been able to lift more than ten times my own body weight, and, and when you get down to it, handling dirt is, you know, ewwww, is not my idea of a rewarding career. It's this whole gung-ho super-organism thing that, that, that I - you know, I can't get, I try but I can't get it. I mean you know, what is it, I'm supposed to do everything for the colony, and, and what about my needs? What about me? I mean, I gotta believe there's someplace out there that's better than this! Otherwise, I will just curl up in a larval position and weep! The whole system makes me feel - insignificant!



Antz (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Todd Alcott, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz

"It's Right Back Where I Started!"

During the closing monologue (in voice-over), Z (voice of Woody Allen) made an astonishing revelation after finding romance with Princess Bala. The camera pulled back to reveal the "world" where Z lived - he was located in the Great Meadow in Central Park (New York City):

There you have it. Your average 'boy-meets-girl, boy-likes-girl, boy-changes-underlying-social-order' story. So, what else can I tell you? We rebuilt the colony - it's even better than before, you know, 'cause now it has a very large indoor swimming pool. Bala and I, incidentally, are thinking of starting a family. You know, just a few kids, maybe a million or two to begin with. And I'm, I'm workin' with a new therapist, you know, terrific, absolutely terrific. He's, he's been putting me in touch with my inner maggot, which is helping me a great deal. And, you know, I finally feel like I found my place, and you know what? It's right back where I started. But the difference is, this time I chose it.




The Big Lebowski (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

The Introduction of the 'Dude'

The Stranger (Sam Elliott) delivered a voice-over description of the bearded, long-haired Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) in the film's opening lines, while a tumbleweed rolled along in late-night Los Angeles to the tune of the song Tumbling Tumbleweeds, sung by Sons of the Pioneers.

The Dude was first viewed with sunglasses and shuffling along in the flourescently-lit dairy section of an almost-empty Ralph's supermarket - opening and smelling the contents of a quart container of Half-and-Half, while wearing a long open gray overcoat, dirty white T-shirt, his PJ bottoms, and slippers. At the checkout counter, he wrote out a check for $.67 cents:

Way out west, there was this fella that I wanna tell ya about. A fella by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least that was the handle his lovin' parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. This Lebowski, he called himself 'The Dude.' Now, 'Dude' - that's a name no one would self-apply where I come from. But then there was a lot about the 'Dude' that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. And a lot about where he lived, likewise. But then again, maybe that's why I found the place so darned interestin'. They call Los Angeles the 'City Of Angels.' I didn't find it to be that, exactly. But I'll allow there are some nice folks there. 'Course I can't say I've seen London, and I've never been to France. And I ain't never seen no queen in her damned undies, as the fella says. But I'll tell ya what - after seeing Los Angeles, and this a-here story I'm about to unfold, well, I guess I seen somethin' every bit as stupefyin' as you'd see in any of those other places. And in English, too. So I can die with a smile on my face, without feelin' like the good Lord gypped me. Now this a-here story I'm about to unfold took place back in the early '90s - just about the time of our conflict with Sad'm and the I-raqis. I only mention it because sometimes there's a man - I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? But sometimes, there's a man - and I'm talkin' about the 'Dude' here. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the 'Dude' in Los Angeles. And even if he's a lazy man - and the 'Dude' was most certainly that, quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin' for laziest worldwide. But sometimes there's a man, sometimes, there's a man. Wow, I lost my train of thought here. But, aw, hell. I've done introduced him enough.



The Big Lebowski (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Eulogy For a Fellow Bowler

As one of the "bereaved," Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) presented a eulogy for fellow bowler Donny (Steve Buscemi), before his ashes in a red Folger's coffee can (a cheap substitute for the mortuary's "most modestly-priced receptacle") were scattered on the Pacific Ocean from a cliff promontory, although the ashes blew back in their faces:

Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors - and bowling, and as a surfer, he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and up to Pismo. He died, he died as so many young men of his generation before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince.




Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Dan Aykroyd, John Landis

The Consequences of Turning Away From Jazz

Rhythm and blues man Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) pleaded with his band members to not mutiny and desert him, and the tradition of jazzy blues:

You may go if you wish. But remember this: walk away now and you walk away from your crafts, your skills, your vocations, leaving the next generation with nothing but recycled, digitally-sampled techno-grooves, quasi-synth rhythms, pseudo-songs of violence-laden gangsta-rap, acid pop, and simpering, saccharine, soulless slush.

Depart now and you forever separate yourselves from the vital American legacies of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, Memphis Slim, Blind Boy Fuller, Louis Jordan, Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson I and II, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Elvis Presley, Lieber and Stoller, and Robert K. Weiss...

Turn your backs now and you snuff out the fragile candles of blues, R&B and soul, and when those flames flicker and expire, the light of the world is extinguished because the music which has moved mankind from seven decades leading to the millennium will wither and die on the vine of abandonment and neglect.



Meet Joe Black (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno, Kevin Wade, Bo Goldman

Advice From Father to Daughter on How to Find Real Love - "Listen to Your Heart"

On a corporate helicopter with his daughter Susan (Claire Forlani), head of Parrish Communications William Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) asked whether she loved and was going to marry Drew (Jake Weber), and then cautioned her: "It's not what you say about Drew. It's what you don't say." He then offered his advice about true love from the heart:

Listen, I'm crazy about the guy. He's smart, he's aggressive. He could carry Parrish Communications into the 21st century and me along with it....That's for me. I'm talking about you. It's not what you say about Drew. It's what you don't say...There's not an ounce of excitement, not a whisper of a thrill. And this relationship has all the passion of a pair of tit-mice. I want you to get swept away out there. I want you to levitate. I want you to sing with rapture and dance like a dervish...Yeah. Be deliriously happy, or at least leave yourself open to be...

I know it's a cornball thing, but love is passion, obsession, someone you can't live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. And I'm not hearing any heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there's no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven't lived a life at all. But you have to try, 'cause if you haven't tried, you haven't lived.

She said "Bravo," and then asked him to give it to her again, only this time with the short version. He replied:

Okay. Stay open. Who knows? Lightning could strike. (He grimaced his face) Yeah.



Meet Joe Black (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno, Kevin Wade, Bo Goldman

65th Birthday Party Speech ("65 Years, Don't They Go By In A Blink")

Play clip (excerpt): Meet Joe Black

Wealthy and powerful William Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) spoke at his 65th birthday party (on the verge of his own death), breaking precedent by telling the crowd his one-candle wish, before being escorted into the afterlife:

I thought I was gonna sneak away tonight. What a glorious night. Every face I see is a memory. It may not be a perfectly perfect memory. Uh, sometimes we had our ups and downs. But we're all together and you're mine for a night. And I'm gonna break precedent and tell you my one-candle wish - that you would have a life as lucky as mine, where you can wake up one morning and say, 'I don't want anything more.' (Long pause)

Sixty-five years. Don't they go by in a blink.


Practical Magic (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Robin Swicord, Akiva Goldsman, Adam Brooks

The Family's Curse and A Plea to Find True Love - "I Just Want Someone To Love Me"

Widowed and lonely witch Sally Owens (Sandra Bullock), in voice-over, wrote a letter to her sister Gillian "Gilly" (Nicole Kidman), both orphaned nieces. She described her "emptiness" due to the fact that they were both doomed as witches. They were cursed that the men they fell in love with were ultimately doomed to an untimely and tragic death, and she was preventing herself from falling in love:

Dearest Gilly: Sometimes I feel there is a hole inside of me - an emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean. And the moon tonight, there's a circle around it, a sign of trouble not far behind. I have this dream of being whole, of not going to sleep each night wanting. But still sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing, I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for.

I just want someone to love me. I want to be seen. (She sealed the envelope with melted wax) I don't know. Maybe I've had my happiness. (She walked the letter out to the postbox for pickup) I don't want to believe it, but there is no man, Gilly. Only that moon (She looked up at the moon).




Rounders (1998)
Screenwriter(s): David Levien, Brian Koppelman

"If You're Too Careful, Your Whole Life Can Become a F--kin' Grind"

High stakes poker gambler (and law school student) Mike McDermott (Matt Damon), in the first lines of the film under the credits, spoke in voice-over. He was gathering together hidden wads of money in his apartment, just before taking an elevator down to an underground illegal poker room in NYC. There, he lost his entire bankroll playing poker (in a game of Texas Hold 'Em) against Russian mobster Teddy "KGB" (John Malkovich):

Listen, here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker. Guys around here will tell ya, you play for a living, it's like any other job. You don't gamble, you grind it out. Your goal is to win one big bet an hour, that's it. Get your money in when you have the best of it. Protect it when you don't. Don't give anything away. That's how I paid my way through half of law school. A true grinder. You see, I learned how to win a little at a time. But finally I've learned this: if you're too careful, your whole life can become a f--kin' grind. This is Teddy KGB's place. You won't find it in the Yellow Pages.

Later in the film, he was reluctantly forced to return to card gambling in order to save his childhood friend Lester 'Worm' Murphy (Edward Norton) from loan sharks.



Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Robert Rodat

To Defuse a Tense Situation, Miller's Address to His Unit on 'Saving' Private Ryan: "Man Means Nothin' to Me"

Top Pick

Play clip (excerpt): Saving Private Ryan

During his search for Private Ryan (Matt Damon), Ranger Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) spoke to his unit about his pre-war occupation (a question that had prompted a betting pool about his pre-war occupation) as an English teacher, and his goal of finding Ryan in the fictional town of Ramelle. He had to defuse a tense situation by confronting the threat of desertion by squad member Private Richard Reiben (Edward Burns):

Mike? What's the pool on me up to right now? What's it up to? What is it, uh, $300 dollars -- is that it? Three hundred? I'm a school teacher. I teach English Composition in this little town called Adley, Pennsylvania. The last eleven years, I've been at Thomas Alva Edison High School. I was the coach of the baseball team in the spring time. Back home when I tell people what I do for a living, they think, well, that, that figures. But over here, it's a big, a big mystery. So I guess I've changed some. Sometimes I wonder if I've changed so much my wife is even gonna recognize me whenever it is I get back to her, and how I'll ever be able to, to tell her about days like today. Ah, Ryan - I don't know anything about Ryan. I don't care. Man means nothin' to me. It's just a name. But if, (sigh) you know, if goin' to Ramelle and findin' him so he can go home, if that earns me the right to get back to my wife, well, then, then that's my mission.

To Private Reiben:

You wanna leave? You wanna go off and fight the war? Alright. Alright, I won't stop ya. I'll even put in the paperwork. I just know that every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel.



Waking Ned Devine (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Kirk Jones

A Memorial Funeral Service for a Live Person

The memorial funeral service delivered by small-town Tullymore resident Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) was not for the deceased individual - Irish National Lottery winner Ned Devine (Jimmy Keogh) - but for his old friend Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly) who was alive and in the front row. He was impersonating the dead man for lottery official Jim Kelly (Brendan Dempsey) who happened to be in attendance, so that the 52 relieved townspeople could split the winnings (130,000 pounds each):

As we look back on the life of... (pause) Michael O'Sullivan was my great friend, but I don't ever remember telling him that. The words that are spoken at a funeral are spoken too late for the man who is dead. What a wonderful thing it would be to visit your own funeral. To sit at the front and hear what was said. Maybe to say a few things yourself. Michael and I grew old together. But at times, when we laughed, we grew younger. If he was here now, if he could hear what I say, I'd congratulate him on being a great man, and thank him for being a friend.


What Dreams May Come (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Ron Bass

Eulogy for a Dead Son

Pediatrician Dr. Chris Nielsen (Robin Williams) and his beautiful wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra) lost their two children Marie (Jessica Brooks Grant) and Ian (Josh Paddock) in an off-screen car crash after he waved goodbye. Four years later, Chris also suffered a tragic death and went to a heavenly afterlife. When his despondent wife Annie committed suicide and went to Hell, he hired a Tracker (Max von Sydow) to bring her back. During his journey, he experienced a flashback to his son Ian's funeral and his own eulogy delivered for him:

There's a man Ian never got to know - the man he was growing up to be. He's a good-looking, clear-eyed young fella, about 25. I can see him. He's the type of guy that men want to be around, because he has integrity, you know? He has character. You can't fake that. He's a guy women want to be around, too, because there's tenderness in him, respect, loyalty, and courage. And women respond to that. Makes him a terrific husband, this guy. I see him as a father. That's where he really shines. See, when he looks in his kid's eyes and that kid knows that his dad really sees him, he sees who he is. Then that child knows that he is an amazing person. He's quite a guy that I'll never get to meet. I wish I had.



What Dreams May Come (1998)
Screenwriter(s): Ron Bass

Sentimental Apology to Wife in Hell After Her Suicidal Death

Later, when he saw his suicidal wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra) in Hell and was trying to bring her back, husband Chris Nielsen (Robin Williams) apologized to her for all the things he could never give her anymore:

I'm sorry, babe, but there's some things I have to say. I've only got a few moments left. I'm sorry for all the things I'll never give you. I'll never buy you another meatball sub with extra sauce -- that was a big one! I'll never make you smile. I just wanted us to be old together, just two old farts laughin' at each other as our bodies fell apart, together at the end by that lake in your painting. That was our Heaven, see? There's lots of things to miss: books, naps, kisses, and fights! God, we had some great ones. Thank you for those. Thank you for every kindness. Thank you for our children. For the first time I saw them. Thank you for being someone I was always proud to be with. For your guts. For your sweetness. For how you always looked, for how I always wanted to touch you. You were my life. I apologize for every time I failed you. Especially this one.


Best Film Speeches and Monologues
(chronological, by film title)
Introduction
1920-1931 | 1932-1935 | 1936-1937 | 1938-1939 | 1939
1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943-1944 | 1945-1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952-1954
1955 | 1956-1957 | 1958-1959 | 1960 | 1961-1962 | 1963-1964 | 1965-1967 | 1968-1969
1970 | 1971 | 1972-1973 | 1974-1975 | 1976 | 1976-1977 | 1978-1979 | 1979 | 1980
1981 | 1982 | 1982-1983 | 1984 | 1984-1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1989
1990 | 1990 | 1991 | 1991 | 1992 | 1992 | 1993 | 1993 | 1994 | 1994 | 1995 | 1995
1996 | 1996 | 1997 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 1999 | 2000 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2004
2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009-2010
Greatest Film Quotes Index


Previous Page Next Page