Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


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

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Screenwriter(s): Lamar Trotti

Lynched Man's Dying Letter

Play clip (excerpt): The Ox-Bow Incident

The heart-breaking reading, posthumously by Gil Carter (Henry Fonda), of a letter written by a lynched man, Donald Martin (Dana Andrews) to his wife:

My dear wife: Mr. Davies will tell you what's happening here tonight. He's a good man and has done everything he can for me. There are some other good men too, only they don't realize what they're doin'. They're the ones I feel sorry for, because it'll be over for me in a little while, but they'll have to go on remembering for the rest of their lives. A man just naturally can't take the law into his own hands and hang people without hurtin' everybody in the world, 'cause then he's just not breakin' one law, but all laws. Law is a lot more than words you put in a book, or judges or lawyers or sheriffs you hire to carry it out. It's everything people ever have found out about justice and what's right and wrong. It's the very conscience of humanity. There can't be any such thing as civilization unless people have a conscience, because if people touch God anywhere, where is it except through their conscience? And what is anybody's conscience except a little piece of the conscience of all men that ever lived? I guess that's all I've got to say except - kiss the babies for me and God bless ya. Your husband, Donald.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

In Alfred Hitchcock's suspense thriller, the chilling, homicidal character of Uncle Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten) - later identified as the "Merry Widow Murderer", delivered a key speech at the family dinner table. It was a contemptuous, misogynistic monologue about rich, lazily fat, detestable, middle-aged widows (whom he judgmentally avenged as a serial killer) in cities who were quite different from small-town women.

During the speech, his young beloved niece Charlie (Teresa Wright) confrontationally and warily watched him in a profile view that moved ever closer:

...Women keep busy in towns like this. In the cities it's different. The cities are full of women, middle-aged widows, husbands dead, husbands who've spent their lives making fortunes, working and working. Then they die and leave their money to their wives. Their silly wives. And what do the wives do, these useless women? You see them in the hotels, the best hotels, every day by the thousands, drinking the money, eating the money, losing the money at bridge, playing all day and all night, smelling of money. Proud of their jewelry but of nothing else. Horrible, faded, fat, greedy women.

Midway, when young Charlie objected to his assessment ("They're alive! They're human beings!"), Uncle Charlie turned toward the camera, in gigantic close-up and coldly asked:

Are they? Are they, Charlie? Are they human or are they fat wheezing animals, hmm? And what happens to animals when they get too fat and too old?

Slightly later, he also lectured young Charlie in the nearby 'Til-Two cocktail lounge - a smoke-filled, noisy and dark bar populated by war-time sailors and less-than-respectable, downtrodden ladies both inside and out. The ominous discussion between the two Charlies occurred at one of the booths, where they faced each other as the mentally-disturbed Uncle Charlie began to act aggressively toward his niece. He told her how she hadn't experienced - as he had - how the world was a living hell filled with foul swine within houses; he began lecturing her, accused her of knowing nothing about the real world, and confronted her about what she knew about him:

You think you know something, don't you? You think you're the clever little girl that knows something. There's so much you don't know. So much. What do you know, really? You're just an ordinary little girl living in an ordinary little town. You wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there's nothing in the world to trouble you. You go through your ordinary little day and at night you sleep your untroubled, ordinary little sleep filled with peaceful, stupid dreams. And I brought you nightmares! Or did I, or was it a silly inexpert little lie? You live in a dream. You're a sleepwalker, blind. How do you know what the world is like? Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know if you rip the fronts off houses you'd find swine? The world's a hell. What does it matter what happens in it? Wake up, Charlie! Use your wits. Learn something.

The Curse of the Cat People (1944)
Screenwriter(s): DeWitt Bodeen

The Headless Horseman Legend

Aging reclusive actress Mrs. Julia Farren (Julia Dean) enacted her version of the 'Headless Horseman' tale, to young blonde Amy Reed (Ann Carter):

I'll tell you a story. A lovely story...Do you know the story of the Headless Horseman?...You live right here in Tarrytown and you don't know the legend of Sleepy Hollow? Then you must hear it. I shall tell it to you. There, now, you sit there. Now, we'll pretend this is the stage. (She emerged from behind a curtain) The Headless Horseman...It was shot off long ago in the great battles that were fought here. With the British on one side and the Americans on the other....

On the dark nights, on the stormy nights, you can hear him. He passes like the wind, and the flapping and fluttering of his great cloak, beating like gaunt wings. And the thunder of his horses' hooves is loud, and loud, and louder! At the midnight hour, down the road that leads to Sleepy Hollow, across the bridge, he goes galloping, galloping, galloping. Always searching, always seeking. And if you stand on the bridge at the wrong hour, the hour when he rides by, his great cloak sweeps around you! He swings you to his saddlebow. And then forever you must ride. And always his cold arms around you, clasping you into the cavity of his bony chest. And then, forever, you must ride, and ride, and ride - with the Headless Horseman.

Double Indemnity (1944)
Screenwriter(s): Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler

Suicide Statistics Speech

Insurance agent Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) contemplated the suicide angle, and explained to Insurance Company President Edward S. Norton (Richard Gaines) how unlikely it was for someone to commit suicide by jumping off a slow-moving train. He reeled off an unforgettable, statistical speech about different kinds of suicidal deaths (each with subdivisions) to illustrate how the Dietrichson claim was probably a legitimate accident claim:

You know, you, uh, ought to take a look at the statistics on suicide sometime. You might learn a little something about the insurance business...Come now, you've never read an actuarial table in your life, have you? Why, they've got 10 volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by color, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poisons, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by types of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth. Suicide by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places, under the wheels of trains, under the wheels of trucks, under the feet of horses, from steamboats. But Mr. Norton, of all the cases on record, there's not one single case of suicide by leap from the rear end of a moving train.

And do you know how fast that train was going at the point where the body was found? 15 miles an hour. Now, how can anybody jump off a slow-moving train like that with any kind of expectation that he would kill himself? No, no soap, Mr. Norton. We're sunk and we'll have to pay through the nose, and you know it.

Double Indemnity (1944)
Screenwriter(s): Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler

"It's a One-Way Trip and the Last Stop is the Cemetery"

Insurance agent Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) pressed further with suspicions, telling fellow insurance worker Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) his hunch: "This Dietrichson business. It's murder, and murders don't come any neater. As fancy a piece of homicide as anybody ever ran into. Smart, tricky, almost perfect - but...I think Papa has it all figured out."

He explained his new theory, exactly similar to the real murder scheme, a conspiratorial scheme. He felt that the "perfect" murder was already coming apart at the seams as he spoke about the two homicidal conspirators who were on a deadly, one-way trolley "ride together...all the way to the end of the line":

It's beginning to come apart at the seams already. Murder is never perfect. It always comes apart sooner or later. When two people are involved, it's usually sooner. Now we know the Dietrichson dame is in it and the somebody else. Pretty soon, we'll know who that somebody else is. He'll show. He's got to show. Sometime, somewhere, they've got to meet. Their emotions are all kicked up. Whether it's love or hate, it doesn't matter. They can't keep away from each other. They may think it's twice as safe because there are two of them. But it isn't twice as safe. It's ten times twice as dangerous. They've committed a murder. And it's not like taking a trolley ride together where they can get off at different stops. They're stuck with each other and they've got to ride all the way to the end of the line and it's a one-way trip and the last stop is the cemetery.

(King) Henry V (1944, UK) (aka The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France)
Screenwriter(s): Based upon William Shakespeare's play

St. Crispin's Day Address to the Troops - See also Henry V (1989)

King Henry V (Laurence Olivier) made a stirring St. Crispin's Day address to his weary troops as they went into battle at Agincourt against the French in 1415:

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 base. And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin's Day.

Laura (1944)
Screenwriter(s): Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, Elizabeth Reinhardt

"I Shall Never Forget" Speech

Play clip (excerpt): Laura (1944)

In voice-over narration, cynical and prickly society columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) opened the film as the camera tracked from left to right across glass cabinets with beautifully-displayed shelves of priceless objets d'art - in the alcove of his elegantly-expensive, New York City apartment/penthouse. It was the hottest day of the summer of 1944, and it was revealed that the story took place in the recent past, at the time of 'Laura's' (Gene Tierney) death:

I shall never forget the weekend Laura died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass. It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only human being left in New York. For Laura's horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her. And I had just begun to write Laura's story when - another of those detectives came to see me. I had him wait. I could watch him through the half-open door. I noted that his attention was fixed upon my clock. There was only one other in existence, and that was in Laura's apartment in the very room where she was murdered.

To Have and Have Not (1944)
Screenwriter(s): Jules Furthman, William Faulkner

"Just Put Your Lips Together and Blow" Invitation

The incredibly sensuous scene between Steve / Harry Morgan (Humphrey Bogart) and Slim / Marie Browning (Lauren Bacall), who was trying to seduce him:

Who was the girl, Steve?... The one that left you with such a high opinion of women? She must have been quite a gal. You think I lied to you about this, don't you? Well, it just happens there's thirty-odd dollars here. Not enough for boat fare, or any other kind of fare. Just enough for me to say 'no' if I feel like it, and you can have it if you want it... You wouldn't take anything from anybody would you?... You know Steve, you're not very hard to figure. Only at times. Sometimes I know exactly what you're going to say. Most of the time. The other times, the other times you're just a stinker.

After kissing him a second time after he had become more receptive, she cooed as she left his room:

It's even better when you help.... Uh, sure you won't change your mind about this?... This belongs to me, and so do my lips, I don't see any difference... Okay, you know you don't have act with me, Steve. You don't have to say anything, and you don't have to do anything. Not with me. Oh, maybe just whistle. You remember how to whistle, don't you? Just put your lips together... and blow.

Best Film Speeches and Monologues
(chronological, by film title)
1920-1931 | 1932-1935 | 1936-1937 | 1938-1939 | 1939
1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943-1944 | 1945-1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952-1954
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