Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


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

The American President (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Aaron Sorkin

Defiant Presidential Press Conference

Play clip (excerpt): The American President

President Andrew Shepherd's (Michael Douglas) defiant press conference responding to Sen. Robert Rumson's (Richard Dreyfuss) attacks on his character (as a member of the ACLU) and on girlfriend Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening):

For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being President of this country was, to a certain extent, about character. And although I've not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I have been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation - being President of this country is entirely about character. For the record, yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU, but the more important question is: 'Why aren't you, Bob?' Now this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question, 'Why would a Senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution?' Now if you can answer that question, folks, then you're smarter than I am, because I didn't understand it until a few hours ago. America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.' You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.

I've known Bob Rumson for years. And I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only -- making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family, and American values and character, and you wave an old photo of the President's girlfriend and you scream about patriotism. You tell them she's to blame for their lot in life. And you go on television and you call her a whore. Sydney Ellen Wade has done nothing to you, Bob. She has done nothing but put herself through school, represent the interests of public school teachers, and lobby for the safety of our natural resources. You want a character debate, Bob? You better stick with me, 'cause Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your league. I've loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer. And I lost the other 'cause I was so busy keeping my job, I forgot to do my job. Well, that ends right now.

Tomorrow morning, the White House is sending a bill to Congress for its consideration. It's White House Resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a twenty percent reduction of the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the fight to reverse the effects of global warming. The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today, it no longer exists. I'm throwing it out. I'm throwing it out and writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and hand guns. I consider them a threat to national security, and I will go door-to-door if I have to, but I'm gonna convince Americans that I'm right, and I'm gonna get the guns. We've got serious problems, and we need serious people.

And if you want to talk about character, Bob, you'd better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I'll show up. This a time for serious people, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I am the President.

Before Sunrise (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan

"An Admittedly Insane Idea"

After a chance meeting on a train, young American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) suggested to new French acquaintance Celine (Julie Delpy) that they continue their time together by disembarking in Vienna. He convinced her by postulating that maybe a decade or two later, she might be in an unhappy marriage and would be wondering how her life might be different if she had chosen another guy. He proposed that she would be able to find out whether he was "totally unmotivated, totally boring" or not:

Alright, I have an admittedly insane idea, but if I don't ask you this, it's just, uh, you know, it's gonna haunt me the rest of my life...I want to keep talking to you, y'know. I have no idea what your situation is, but, uh, but I feel like we have some kind of, uh, connection. Right?...Yeah, right, well, great. So listen, here's the deal. This is what we should do. You should get off the train with me here in Vienna, and come check out the town....Come on. It'll be fun. Come on...I don't know. All I know is I have to catch an Austrian Airlines flight tomorrow morning at 9:30, and I don't really have enough money for a hotel, so I was just gonna walk around, and it would be a lot more fun if you came with me. And if I turn out to be some kind of psycho, you know, you just get on the next train. Alright, alright.

Think of it like this. Um, uh, jump ahead, ten, twenty years, okay, and you're married. Only your marriage doesn't have that same energy that it used to have, y'know. You start to blame your husband. You start to think about all those guys you've met in your life, and what might have happened if you'd picked up with one of them, right? Well, I'm one of those guys. That's me, y'know, so think of this as time travel, from then to now, uh, to find out what you're missing out on. See, what this really could be is a gigantic favor to both you and your future husband, to find out that you're not missing out on anything. I'm just as big a loser as he is, totally unmotivated, totally boring, and, uh, you made the right choice, and you're really happy.

She simply answered: "Let me get my bag."

Braveheart (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Randall Wallace

Inspirational "They'll Never Take Our Freedom"

Top Pick

Play clip (excerpt): Braveheart (short)
Play clip (excerpt): Braveheart (long)

Heroic Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace's (Mel Gibson) inspirational and patriotic words to his army to rise up and fight for their freedom, while riding in front of them on horseback:

Sons of Scotland! I am William Wallace....Yes, I've heard. Kills men by the hundreds. And if he were here, he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse. (Laughter) I am William Wallace! And I see a whole army of my country men, here, in defiance of tyranny. You've come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight? ...Aye, fight and you may die, run and you'll live, at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom! Alba gu bra! (Scotland forever!)

Casino (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese

"That's My Business. That's What I Do"

Mob enforcer "Nicky" Santoro (Joe Pesci) verbally threatened, intimidated, and denounced banker Charlie Clark (Richard Riehle) - demanding to get his money back:

I think that you've gotten the wrong impression about me. I think in all fairness, I should explain to you exactly what it is that I do. For instance, tomorrow morning, I'll get up nice and early, take a walk down over to the bank, walk in and see and uh, if you don't have my money for me, I'll crack your f--kin' head wide-open in front of everybody in the bank. And just about the time that I'm comin' out of jail, hopefully, you'll be comin' out of your coma. And guess what? I'll split your f--kin' head open again. 'Cause I'm f--kin' stupid. I don't give a f--k about jail. That's my business. That's what I do. And we know what you do, don't we, Charlie? You f--k people out of money and get away with it.

Casino (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese

Las Vegas Will Never Be the Same

Now with the mob having lost power, ex-Tangiers Casino manager Sam "Ace" Rothstein (Robert DeNiro) lamented the new situation - in which corporations now ran Vegas with "junk bonds", and it had become family friendly. During a closing montage, he delivered a wistful, disdainful eulogy for the older, classier casino way of life in Las Vegas. However, he wound up as a sports handicapper for the Mob - "right back where I started":

The town will never be the same. After the Tangiers, the big corporations took it all over. Today, it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior's college money on the poker slots. In the old days, dealers knew your name, what you drank, what you played. Today, it's like checkin' into an airport. And if you order room service, you're lucky if you get it by Thursday. Today, it's all gone. You get a whale show up with four million in a suitcase, and some twenty-five-year-old hotel school kid is gonna want his Social Security Number. After the Teamsters got knocked out of the box, the corporations tore down practically every one of the old casinos. And where did the money come from to rebuild the pyramids? Junk bonds...But in the end, I wound up right back where I started. I could still pick winners, and I could still make money for all kinds of people back home. And why mess up a good thing? And that's that.

Clueless (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Amy Heckerling

Debating Haitian Immigration

Play clip (excerpt): Clueless

Cher's (Alicia Silverstone) debate class speech (taking the pro position) on 'Should all oppressed people be allowed refuge in America', against classmate debate partner Amber (Elisa Donovan):

So, OK, like right now, for example, the Haitians need to come to America. But some people are all 'What about the strain on our resources?' But it's like when I had this garden party for my father's birthday, right? I said R.S.V.P. because it was a sit-down dinner. But people came that, like, did not R.S.V.P. So I was, like, totally buggin'. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier! And so if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty.

Dangerous Minds (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Ronald Bass

"Learning Is The Prize"

In her first year of teaching, inner city school English instructor LouAnne Johnson (Michelle Pfeiffer), a former US Marine, challenged her lower-class, underprivileged street-wise students, after she was asked what the prize was for learning a poem:

Learning is the prize. Yes, knowing how to read something and understand it is the prize. Okay? Knowing how to think is the prize....Okay. Well, yeah, well, you know how to run, too. But not the way you could run if you trained. You know, the mind is like a muscle, okay, and if you want it to be really powerful, you got to work it out. Okay? Each new fact gives you another choice. Each new idea builds another muscle, okay, and it's those muscles that are gonna make you really strong. Those are your weapons. In this unsafe world, I want to arm you....Yeah. Hey, try it, you're just sittin' here anyway. Look. Okay, if at the end of the term, you're not faster, stronger and smarter, you will have lost nothing. But if you are, you'll be that much tougher to knock down.

Dead Man Walking (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Tim Robbins

Capital Punishment: "I Think Killin' Is Wrong, No Matter Who Does It"

Convicted killer Matthew Poncelot (Sean Penn) haltingly gave his final words before being executed by lethal injection on death row in Louisiana for the murder of a teenage couple six years earlier. He appealed to the dead boy's parent for forgiveness, and also to the dead girl's parents - hoping that it would bring them peace:

Mr. Delacroix, I don't wanna leave this world with any hate in my heart. I ask your forgiveness for what I done. It was a terrible thing I done, taking your son away from you...

Mr. and Mrs. Percy, I hope my death gives you some relief. I just wanna say I think killin' is wrong, no matter who does it, whether it's me or y'all or your government.

Get Shorty (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Scott Frank

About the Ease of Writing A Script

Drug dealer Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo) described for Miami mobster Chili Palmer (John Travolta) how easy it was to write a script, telling him in a few words: "There's nothin' to it":

All you do, you get an idea, you set down what you wanna say on paper. Then you hire somebody else to fill in the commas and s--t where they belong, if you're not positive yourself. Maybe fix up the spelling where you have some tricky words. Although I've seen some scripts, I know the words weren't spelt right. There were hardly any commas in it at all. So I don't think that's too important. All right. You get to the end. You write in 'Fade out.' You done...That's it?

The punchline was Palmer's reply: "That's all there is to it? Then what the f--k do I need you for?"

Heat (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Michael Mann

Restaurant Confessional Face-Off

On opposite sides of the law, LAPD Lt. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and professional thief Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) faced off in a coffee-shop, where the two realized that each in their own way was not living a "regular type life." Hanna confessed his personal and marital problems, including concerns for his step-daughter Lauren (Natalie Portman) and the failure of his third marriage due to his work schedule:

My life's a disaster zone. I got a stepdaughter so f--ked up because her real father's this large-type asshole. I got a wife. We're passin' each other on the down-slope of a marriage, my third, because I spend all my time chasing guys like you around the block. That's my life...

McCauley answered about how his life as a thief on the run also made it impossible for him to become attached to anything, including having a girlfriend:

A guy told me one time, 'Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.' Now, if you're on me and you gotta move when I move, how do you expect to keep a, a marriage?

Hanna also described his recurring dream:

You know I have this, uh, recurring dream. I'm sittin' at this big banquet table and all the victims of all the murders I ever worked are sittin' at this table and they're starin' at me with these black eye balls because they got eight ball hemorrhages from their head wounds. And there they are, these big balloon people because I found them two weeks after they'd been under the bed. The neighbors reported the smell. And there they are, all just sittin' there....They don't have anything to say. They just look at each other, they look at me and that's it, that's the dream.

As they concluded their conversation, Hanna admitted that he wouldn't want to 'put down' McCauley now that they had talked face-to-face:

You know, we're sittin' here, you and I are like a couple of regular fellas. You do what you do, and I do what I gotta do. And now that we've been face to face, if I'm there and I gotta put you away, I won't like it. But I'll tell ya, if it's between you and some poor bastard whose wife you're gonna turn into a widow, brother, you are going down.

McCauley replied, answering from his perspective:

There's a flip side to that coin. What if you do got me boxed in and I got to put you down? 'Cause no matter what, you will not get in my way. We've been face to face, yeah, but I will not hesitate, not for a second....Well, maybe we'll never see each other again.

Kids (1995)
Screenwriter(s): Larry Clark, Harmony Korine, Jim Lewis

"F--kin' Is What I Love"

Play clip (excerpt): Kids

In the film's conclusion, the camera panned over the many wasted teenaged bodies littering the floor of a house after a party, including a view of skinny 17 year-old HIV-infected skateboarder Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) in the arms of his latest conquest, 13 year-old Darcy (Yakira Peguero), as his voice spoke off-screen:

When you're young, not much matters. When you find something that you care about, then that's all you got. When you go to sleep at night, you dream of pussy. When you wake up, it's the same thing. It's there in your face. You can't escape it. Sometimes when you're young, the only place to go is inside. That's just it. F--kin' is what I love. Take that away from me, and I really got nothing.

"Jesus Christ, what happened?" (last line)

Best Film Speeches and Monologues
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