1. Patton (1970)
Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.
With that compelling line, George C. Scott as General George S. Patton delivers the film’s opening speech directly to the movie audience.
Dressed in his decorated general’s uniform and dwarfed by an enormous American flag, he goes on to say,
Americans, traditionally, love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle…the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.
One can imagine the impact of those lines as a 1970’s American audience embroiled in debate over the unpopular Vietnamese War listened to Patton’s incitement to winning as the only option in war.
In an introduction interview for the Cinema Classics collection DVD, Francis Ford Coppola, who co-wrote the screenplay, explains how he was fired from the project, largely because the opening speech was seen to be strange. He goes on to instruct young people that the things you are fired for, are often the things later on that you are celebrated for.
The speech ends with a line that is almost an afterthought for Patton:
Oh… I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. That’s all.
For the full text of this opening speech, go to: Patton’s Speech.