Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


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

Glory (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Kevin Jarre

"I Am Colonel Robert Gould Shaw"

Play clip (excerpt): Glory

Determined Colonel Robert G. Shaw's (Matthew Broderick) first greeting to his assembled troops, the 54th Massachusetts infantry, the first "colored regiment" composed of volunteer black soldiers:

Good morning, gentlemen. I am Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. I am your commanding officer. It is a great pleasure to see you all here today. It is my hope that the same courage, spirit, and honor which has brought us together will one day restore this Union. May God bless us all.

Glory (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Kevin Jarre

"So Full of Hate"

Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins' (Morgan Freeman) angry chastisement and dressing down of Trip (Denzel Washington) after he called Rawlins "the white man's dog":

What are you? So full of hate you just want to go out and fight everybody, because you've been whipped and chased by hounds. Well that might not be livin', but it sure as hell ain't dyin'. And dyin''s what these white boys have been doin' for goin' on three years now, dyin' by the thousands, dyin' for you, fool. And all this time I keep askin' myself, when, O Lord, when gonna be our time? Gonna come a time when we all gonna hafta ante up and kick in like men, LIKE MEN! You watch who you callin' nigger! If there's any niggers around here, it's YOU, just a stupid-ass, swamp-runnin' nigger! And if you not careful, that's all you ever gonna be!

Glory (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Kevin Jarre

"I Love the 54th"

Trip's (Denzel Washington) halting, heartfelt acknowledgement that the Massachusetts 54th was his only family during a pre-battle spiritual sung around a night campfire by the infantry regiment:

...I ain't much about no prayin', now. I ain't never had no family, and... killed off my mama...Well, I just... Y'all's the only-est family I got...And uh, I love the 54th...Ain't even much a matter what happens tomorrow, 'cause we men, ain't we?...We're men...

Henry V (1989, UK)
Screenwriter(s): Kenneth Branagh

St. Crispin's Day Address to Troops: "We Band of Brothers"

Play clip (excerpt): Henry V

King Henry V's (Kenneth Branagh) inspired pre-battle address to his weary troops on St. Crispin's Day before the Battle of Agincourt:

What's he that wishes so? My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin. If we are mark'd to die, we are enough to do our country loss. And if to live, the fewer men the greater share of honour. God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more. Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host, that he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart. His passport shall be made and crowns for convoy put into his purse. We would not die in that man's company that fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is called the feast of Crispian. He that outlives this day and comes safe home will stand a tip-toe when this day is named and rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall see this day and live old age will yearly on the vigil, feast his neighbors and say: 'To-morrow is Saint Crispin's'. Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, and say: 'These wounds I had on Crispin's Day.' Old men forget yet all shall be forgot but he'll remember with advantages what feats he did that day. Then shall our names familiar in their mouths as household words: Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester, be in their flowing cups freshly remembered. This story shall the good man teach his son. And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by from this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remember'd.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother, be he ne'er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition. And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon St. Crispin's Day.

Lean on Me (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Michael Schiffer

Address to Eastside High School Staff and Teachers: "This is Not a Damn Democracy!"

Top Pick

Play clip (excerpt): Lean on Me

After being hired, Principal Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman) delivered his first address to the Eastside HS Staff and teachers:

You may sit down, Mr. O'Malley. You think you can run this school? If you could, then I wouldn't be here, would I? No one talks in my meetings. NO ONE! You take out your pencils and write. I want the names of every hoodlum, drug dealer, and miscreant who's done nothing but take this place apart on my desk by noon today. Reverend are now the chief custodian, Reverend Slappy. You will scour this building clean. Graffiti goes up is off the next day. Is that clear?... Detention students can help you. Let them scrub this place for awhile, and tear down those cages in the cafeteria. You treat them like animals, that's exactly how they'll behave! This is my new Dean of Security, Mr. William Wright. He will be my Avenging Angel, as you teachers reclaim the halls. This is an institution of learning, ladies and gentlemen. If you can't control it, how can you teach?! Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm! Mr. Zorella...Mr. Zorella, you are now my new Head Football Coach. Mr. Darnell. Stand up, Mr. Darnell. Mr. Darnell will be your assistant. You know why you're being demoted, Mr. Darnell? Because I'm sick and tired of our football team getting pushed all over the field. Thank you. Sit down. I want precision. I want a weight program. And if you don't like it, Mr. Darnell, you can quit.

Same goes for the rest of ya. You tried it your way for years. And your students can't even get past the Minimum Basic Skills Test. That means they can hardly read!! They've given me less than one year, one school year to turn this place around, to get those test scores up, so the state will not take us over to perform the tasks which you have failed to do! To educate our children! Forget about the way it used to be. This is not a damn democracy. We are in a state of emergency and my word is law. There's only one boss in this place, and that's me - the "HNIC." [Head Nigger in Charge] Are there any questions?

Lean on Me (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Michael Schiffer

Address to the Eastside High School Students

Play clip (excerpt): Lean on Me

Principal Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman) also gave an opening address to the rowdy high school students in the gymnasium:

Alright people settle down, now. You people get down off the seats. Settle down. Settle down. Boys and girls, settle down. May I have your attention? Quiet! Quiet down! Take your seats! You people sit down. Sit down. Quiet down. I am your new principal. My name is Joe Clark. I want you to be quiet! I want you to listen! From here out, there will be no smoking in this school! All of you who are smoking, put out your cigarettes on the soles of your shoes. Put the buds in your pockets! Now! You there, you. Put out your cigarette. I'm going to ask the people up on the stage to open with our school song...Mr. Rollin....Alright, that's enough, Mr. Rollin, that's enough.

I want all of you to take a good look at these people on the risers behind me. These people have been here up to five years and done absolutely nothing. These people are drug dealers and drug users. They have taken up space. They have disrupted the school. They have harassed your teachers, and they have intimidated you. Well, times are about to change. You will not be bothered in Joe Clark's school. These people are incorrigible. And since none of them can graduate anyway, you are all expurgated. You are dismissed! You are out of here forever! I wish you well. Mr. Wright...

Next time it may be you. If you do no better than they did, next time it will be you. They said this school was dead, like the cemetery it's built on. But we call our East Side teams 'ghosts,' don't we? And what are ghosts? Ghosts are spirits that rise from the dead. I want you to be my ghosts. You are going to lead our resurrection by defying the expectation that all of us are doomed to failure. My motto is simple: If you do not succeed in life, I don't want you to blame your parents. I don't want you to blame the white man! I want you to blame yourselves. The responsibility is yours!

Steel Magnolias (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Robert Harling

"I Wanna Know Why!"

Comatose diabetic daughter Shelby Eatenton Latcherie (Julia Roberts) finally passed away when her husband Jackson (Dylan McDermott) decided to pull the plug on her life-support machine. Afterwards, her strong-willed and overprotective mother M'Lynn Eatenton (Sally Field) delivered a despairing ranting at the gravesite, breaking down as she sobbed and asked: "I Wanna Know Why!":

I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm FINE! I can jog all the way to Texas and back, but my daughter can't!! She never could!! Oh, God. I'm so mad, I don't know what to do!! I wanna know why! I wanna know WHY Shelby's life is over!! I wanna know HOW that baby will EVER know how wonderful his mother was. Will he EVER know what she went THROUGH for him?

Oh, God, I wanna know whyyyy! Whhhyyyyy?! Lord, I wish I could understand. No! No! No! It's not supposed to happen this way. I'm supposed to go first. I've always been ready to go first. I-I don't think I can take this. I-I don't think I can take this. I just wanna hit somebody til they feel as bad as I do! I JUST WANNA HIT SOMETHING! I WANNA HIT IT HARD!

When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Nora Ephron

Men and Women Can't Be Friends - Amendment to the Rule

During an accidental meeting onboard an airplane, five years after their college-era drive to New York, Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) met up with acquaintance Sally Albright (Meg Ryan). As they stood on the moving escalator at the airport after their flight, he struggled to explain that he had an amendment to his earlier 'rule' about relationships between men and women:

Yes, that's right, they can't be friends...unless both of them are involved with other people. Then they can. This is an amendment to the earlier rule. If the two people are in relationships, the pressure of possible involvement is lifted. That doesn't work either. Because what happens then is the person you're involved with can't understand why you need to be friends with the person you're just friends with, like it means something is missing from the relationship and wanted to go outside to get it. Then when you say, 'No, no, no, no, it's not true, nothing is missing from the relationship,' the person you're involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you're just friends with, which you probably are - I mean, come on, who the hell are we kidding, let's face it - which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can't be friends. So where does it leave us?

When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Nora Ephron

Remembering a Previous Relationship

When Harry and Sally again crossed paths at a bookstore, ten years after their long drive, they soon were talking together over lunch. Sally had broken up with husband Joe (Steven Ford), and Harry was also in the midst of a divorce.

She gave a resigned explanation to Harry about her failed relationship - she discussed her lack of commitment to Joe, and how the issue of sex was eliminated when a couple got married:

When Joe and I started seeing each other, we wanted exactly the same thing. We wanted to live together, but we didn't want to get married because every time anyone we knew got married, it ruined their relationship. They practically never had sex again. It's true, it's one of the secrets that no one ever tells you. I would sit around with my girlfriends who have kids - and, actually, my one girlfriend who has kids, Alice - and she would complain about how she and Gary never did it anymore. She didn't even complain about it, now that I think about it. She just said it matter-of-factly. She said they were up all night, they were both exhausted all the time, the kids just took every sexual impulse they had out of them. And Joe and I used to talk about it, and we'd say we were so lucky we have this wonderful relationship, we can have sex on the kitchen floor and not worry about the kids walking in. We can fly off to Rome on a moment's notice. And then one day I was taking Alice's little girl for the afternoon because I'd promised to take her to the circus, and we were in the cab playing 'I Spy' - I spy a mailbox, I spy a lamp-post - and she looked out the window and she saw this man and this woman with these two little kids. And the man had one of the little kids on his shoulders, and she said, 'I spy a family.' And I started to cry. You know, I just started crying. And I went home, and I said, 'The thing is, Joe, we never do fly off to Rome on a moment's notice.'

When Harry inquired about "the kitchen floor," Sally responded wistfully:

Not once. It's this very cold, hard Mexican ceramic tile. Anyway, we talked about it for a long time, and I said, this is what I want, and he said, well, I don't, and I said, well, I guess it's over, and he left. And the thing is, I-I feel really fine. I am over him. I mean, I really am over him. That was it for him, that was the most that he could give, and every time I think about it, I am more and more convinced that I did the right thing.

When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Nora Ephron

All the Ways That I Love You

Play clip (excerpt): When Harry Met Sally...

Harry's "why I love you" speech to Sally at a New Year's Eve party in the film's conclusion:

How about this way? I love that you get cold when it's seventy-one degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're lookin' at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely. And it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Sally: (feeling manipulated but also melting) responded, after which they kissed:

You see. That is just like you, Harry. You say things like that, and you make it impossible for me to hate you, and I hate you, Harry. I really hate you. I hate you.

Best Film Speeches and Monologues
(chronological, by film title)
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