Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


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

Freaks (1932)
Screenwriter(s): Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon

Carnival Barker's Introduction of a Real Freak - The Opening and Closing Scenes

A carnival barker (Murray Kinnell) opened the film with an enticement to customers, and his explanation of the sideshow freaks' code of honor:

We didn't lie to ya, folks. We told you we had living, breathing monstrosities. You laughed at them, shuddered at them and yet, but for the accident of birth, you might be even as they are. They did not ask to be brought into the world, but into the world they came. Their code is a law unto themselves. Offend one - and you offend them all.

Then, he led the patrons to an enclosure and introduced an off-screen creature, causing a woman to scream at the sight of the hideous human monstrosity - but the sight of the creature was postponed until the film's conclusion:

And now, folks, if you'll just step this way. You are about to witness the most amazing, the most astounding living monstrosity of all time. (woman's scream) Friends - she was once a beautiful woman. A royal prince shot himself for love of her. She was known as the Peacock of the Air...

He concluded his speech at the end of the film - when the "Peacock of the Air" was finally seen:

How she got that way will never be known. Some say a jealous lover, others that it was the code of the freaks, others the storm. Believe it or not, there she is...!

The tall and sexy Cleopatra had been transformed into a legless, feathered chicken with a scarred and bruised face, drooping mouth, and a squawking mouth. She had been punished for her greed, cruelty and duplicity toward the freaks.

Freaks (1932)
Screenwriter(s): Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon

Cleopatra's Memorable Short Speech to Reject the Freaks

In this horror film's story, beautiful but heartless high-wire trapeze-artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) had married a gullible circus midget Hans (Harry Earles) who was due to claim an inheritance, but her dastardly intention, plotted with her strong-man lover Hercules (Henry Victor), was simply to poison Hans to death for his money.

In the infamous and macabre "Wedding Feast" banquet scene, after Hans had married Cleo, the freaks began an unforgettable chant before passing around a loving cup:

"We accept her, one of us. Gooba-gobble, Gooba-gobble."

Cleopatra was seated next to her real lover Hercules, who sarcastically mocked the freaks for their friendly gesture:

"They're going to make you one of them, my big duck!"

She incurred the wrath of the tightly knit, loyal group of "nature's aberrations," when she was offered the loving cup, rose stiffly from her chair, became extremely revolted by them, and exclaimed: "You dirty slimy freaks."

Cleopatra: You dirty, slimy freaks! Freaks, freaks! Get out of here! (She threw the contents of her drinking cup at them) You! Out!
Hercules: Get out! You heard her! Get out! Ha, ha, ha, ha.
Cleopatra: You filth! Make me one of you, will you?

Then, Hans' new bride challenged her ashamed husband, and insulted him as a juvenile: Well, what are you going to do? What are you - a man or a baby? - and then she suggested giving him a childish horsey-back ride: What must I do? Must I play games with you? Must Mamma take you horsey-back ride?"

She carried him on her shoulders for a "horsey-back ride", with Hercules assisting in the humiliation:

Ha, ha, that's it! Horsey-back ride! Ha, ha, ha. Come, come, my little fly speck. Mamma is going to take you horsey- back ride. Giddy-up! Giddy-up, horsey!

42nd Street (1933)
Screenwriter(s): Rian James, James Seymour

"It's My Last Show and It's Got To Be My Best" - Words of Assurance from a Broadway Director

Producers Jones (Robert McWade) and Barry (Ned Sparks) planned to stage Pretty Lady - a Broadway musical, despite the Depression, and they had hired the well-known "musical comedy director" Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter). In close-up, the unseen director signed the Jones/Barry contract. Bankrupt and broke from the Stock Market Crash in 1929, a wild-eyed Marsh was only interested in recouping his economic fortunes ("Money!"). The haggard and ill Marsh assured his producers of his strength:

You'll get your Pretty Lady. You haven't got anything to worry about. I'm not gonna let you down because I can't afford to. I've given everything I've had to that gulch down there and it's taken all I had to offer. Oh, it paid me, sure, in money I couldn't hang on to - fair-weather friends, women, headlines! Hah! Why even the cops and the newsboys recognize me on sight. 'Marsh, the Magnificent.' 'Marsh the Slave-Driver!' Actors tell ya how Marsh drove 'em and bullied 'em and even tore it out of 'em! And maybe there's a few that'll tell ya how Marsh really made 'em. And they've all got somethin' to show for it - except Marsh.

Well, this is my last shot! I'll make a few more actors. But this time, I'm gonna sock my money away so hard that they'll have to blast to find enough to buy a newspaper. That's why I'm goin' ahead with Pretty Lady. And Pretty Lady's got to be a hit. It's my last show and it's got to be my best. You're counting on me. Well, I'm counting on Pretty Lady, because it's got to support me for a long time to come.

42nd Street (1933)
Screenwriter(s): Rian James, James Seymour

"You're Gonna Work and Sweat and Work Some More"

Describing the harsh routine of preparing for a show's production, a glaring, growling, harsh and demanding Marsh (Warner Baxter) paced back and forth in front of the lucky chorines and smoked nervously. In his vicious, bellowing voice, he ferociously delivered a dyspeptic pep talk and verbal lashing to his cast:

All right, now, everybody. Quiet, and listen to me. Tomorrow morning, we're gonna start a show. We're gonna rehearse for five weeks and we're gonna open on scheduled time. (He brandished his cigarette) - And I mean scheduled time. You're gonna work and sweat and work some more. You're gonna work days and you're gonna work nights. And you're gonna work between time when I think you need it. You're gonna dance until your feet fall off and you're not able to stand up any longer. BUT five weeks from now, we're going to have a show! Now, some of you people have been with me before. You know it's gonna be a tough grind. (He warned some more with waves of his cigarette) It's gonna be the toughest five weeks that you ever lived through. Do you all get that? Now anybody who doesn't think he's gonna like it had better quit right now. What do I hear? Nobody? Good. Then that's settled. We start tomorrow morning.

42nd Street (1933)
Screenwriter(s): Rian James, James Seymour

"You've Got To Come Back a Star"

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Play clip (excerpt): 42nd Street

Producer Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) gave motivational instructions to young understudy Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler), culminating with one of the most famous exhortations in film history, just before the opening night's show:

Now, Sawyer, you listen to me and you listen hard. 200 people, 200 jobs, $200,000 dollars, five weeks of grind and blood and sweat depend upon you. It's the lives of all these people who've worked with you. You've got to go on, and you have to give and give and give. They've got to like you, they've got to. Do you understand? You can't fall down, you can't, because your future's in it, my future and everything all of us have is staked on you. All right now, I'm through. But you keep your feet on the ground, and your head on those shoulders of yours and go out. And Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star.

I'm No Angel (1933)
Screenwriter(s): Mae West

A Carnival Barker's Introduction of Vamp Performer

One-ring circus and sideshow carnival barker (Russell Hopton) tempted a crowded audience with his introduction of carnival queen and dazzling international small-time, vamp circus star performer Tira (Mae West):

Over there, Tira, the beautiful Tira, dancing, singing, marvel of the age, supreme flower of feminine pulchritude, the girl who discovered you don't have to have feet to be a dancer.

Tira made a sauntering entrance on the catwalk and purred to spectators:

A penny for your thoughts. Got the idea, boys. You follow me?

Queen Christina (1933)
Screenwriter(s): H.M. Harwood, Salka Viertel

An Argument For Peace

The reigning, peace-loving, lovely yet willful 17th century Swedish Queen (Greta Garbo), now an adult, was ruling on the throne when she was summoned from hunting and told: "Sweden now has the commanding place in Europe" after thirty years of war; she was dismayed by the high casualty reports of 10,000 men lost in the victorious war, and the expensive drain on Swedish resources: ("A few more victories like this and we will have to hire foreigners to fight our battles").

The Queen's heroic, victorious, older Swedish-born cousin from the warring Swedish army, Prince Palatine Charles X. Gustavus (Reginald Owen) was about to arrive home from the battlefield, and she was expected to become betrothed to the national military hero; the controversial queen of Sweden realized that she was being forced into the possibility of a politically-correct marriage to Prince Gustavus, to give her country an heir to the throne; she rejected the idea of marrying someone she didn't love, and instead flirted with her handsome and ambitious treasury secretary Count Magnus (Ian Keith).

In Parliament, she listened as all of her constituents (the nobles, a gallant general, the Archbishop (David Torrence), and the returning Prince) clamored for more war against the "barbarians" to avenge the glory of Sweden, but Queen Christina disagreed with them; the Queen requested another opinion from the down-trodden peasants who were the ones sacrificed: "But what of the peasants? You peasants have fought this war"; when a representative from the peasants proclaimed that they would go when ordered, she commanded: "You shall go no longer."

With a proclamation of peace, she rejected calls for more violence and decreed that the bloody war would end:

There are other things to live for than wars. I have had enough of them. We have been fighting since I was in the cradle and many years before. It is enough. I shall ask the powers to meet for a speedy and honorable peace. There must be an end!...Spoils! Glory! Flags and trumpets! What is behind these high-sounding words? Death and destruction! Triumphals of crippled men! Sweden victorious in a ravaged Europe. An island in a dead sea. I tell you, I want no more of it. I want for my people security and happiness. I want to cultivate the arts of peace. The arts of life! I want peace and peace I will have.

"I want peace and peace I will have."

"But what of the peasants?"

It Happened One Night (1934)
Screenwriter(s): Robert Riskin

"Wall of Jericho" Scene and a Lesson on How a Man Undresses

When they shared a room and he strung up a blanket on a clothesline to divide the room, reporter Peter Warne (Clark Gable) gave a bare-chested demonstration of how a man undressed in the infamous "Wall of Jericho" scene. He scared young traveling companion-heiress Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) to flee to the other side of the "wall":

Well, I like privacy when I retire. Yes, I'm very delicate in that respect. Prying eyes annoy me. Behold the walls of Jericho! Uh, maybe not as thick as the ones that Joshua blew down with his trumpet, but a lot safer. You see, uh, I have no trumpet. And just to show you that my heart's in the right place, I'll give you my best pair of pajamas. (He pointed to the other side of the blanket) Uh, would you mind joining the Israelites? You don't want to join the Israelites?

All right. Perhaps you're interested in how a man undresses. You know, it's a funny thing about that. Quite a study in psychology. No two men do it alike. You know, I once knew a man who kept his hat on until he was completely undressed. Yeah, now he made a picture. Years later, his secret came out. He wore a toupee. Yeah. Now I have a method all my own. If you notice, the coat came first, then the tie, then the shirt. Now, uh, according to Hoyle, after that, the, uh, pants should be next. There's where I'm different. I go for the shoes next. First the right. Then the left. After that, it's, eh, every man for himself. (She raced to the other side of the blanket) ...Aw, don't be a sucker. A good night's rest'll do you a lot of good. Besides, you got nothing to worry about: the walls of Jericho will protect you from the big bad wolf.

It Happened One Night (1934)
Screenwriter(s): Robert Riskin

Bachelor's Thoughts on Love and Marriage

Longtime bachelor Peter Warne (Clark Gable) also gave his thoughts on love and marriage to traveling companion Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert):

Sure, I've thought about it. Who hasn't? If I could ever meet the right sort of girl. Ahh, where you gonna find her? Somebody that's real, somebody that's alive! They don't come like that way anymore. Have I ever thought about it? Boy, I've even been sucker enough to make plans. You know, I saw an island in the Pacific once, never been able to forget it. That's where I'd like to take her. She'd have to be the sort of a girl who'd jump in the surf with me and love it as much as I did. Nights when you and the moon and the water all become one. You feel you're part of something big and marvelous. That's the only place to live. The stars are so close over your head you feel you could reach up and stir them around. Certainly, I've been thinking about it. Boy, if I could ever find a girl who was hungry for those things...

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Screenwriter(s): Talbot Jennings, Jules Furthman, Carey Wilson

Closing Court Statement Before Death

Midshipman/Ensign Roger Byam (Franchot Tone) made a closing court statement to defend his men, after he had been sentenced to hang:

My lord, much as I desire to live, I'm not afraid to die. Since I first sailed on the Bounty over four years ago, I've known how men can be made to suffer worse things than death, cruelly, beyond duty, beyond necessity. Captain Bligh, you've told your story of mutiny on the Bounty, how men plotted against you, seized your ship, cast you adrift in an open boat, a great venture in science brought to nothing, two British ships lost. But there's another story, Captain Bligh, of ten cocoanuts and two cheeses. A story of a man who robbed his seamen, cursed them, flogged them, not to punish but to break their spirit. A story of greed and tyranny, and of anger against it, of what it cost.

One man, my lord, would not endure such tyranny. That's why you hounded him. That's why you hate him, hate his friends. And that's why you're beaten. Fletcher Christian's still free. Christian lost, too, my lord. God knows he's judged himself more harshly than you could judge him. I say to his father, 'He was my friend. No finer man ever lived.' I don't try to justify his crime, his mutiny, but I condemn the tyranny that drove him to it. I don't speak here for myself alone or for these men you condemn. I speak in their names, in Fletcher Christian's name, for all men at sea. These men don't ask for comfort. They don't ask for safety. If they could speak to you they'd say, 'Let us choose to do our duty willingly, not the choice of a slave, but the choice of free Englishmen.' They ask only (for) the freedom that England expects for every man. If one man among you believe that - one man - he could command the fleets of England. He could sweep the seas for England. If he called his men to their duty not by flaying their backs, but by lifting their hearts, their... That's all.

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
Screenwriter(s): Walter DeLeon, Harlan Thompson

Patriotic Love of Adopted Country

English butler-valet Marmaduke 'Bill' Ruggles (Charles Laughton) expressed his love for America and the Old West cow-town of Red Gap (in Washington), where he had moved to work for millionaire rancher Egbert Floud (Charles Ruggles). He showed the cowhands at the Silver Dollar Saloon how he had become inspired by "what Lincoln said at Gettysburg" when no one else knew the words.

He recited Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (he had been reading up on Presidential history), first softly and then reaching a higher volume as more dumb-founded patrons, cowhands, and bar-drinkers moved closer to listen (seen in numerous cutaways).

"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are now on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far beyond our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that

- these dead shall not have died in vain
- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and
- that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Best Film Speeches and Monologues
(chronological, by film title)
1920-1931 | 1932-1935 | 1936-1937 | 1938-1939 | 1939
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