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By Michael Schilf · January 19, 2010
Citizen Kane (1941) – Charles Foster Kane's speech to executives on the Inquirer’s success.
Kane (Orson Welles): "Six years ago, I looked at a picture of the world's greatest newspaper men. I felt like a kid in front of a candy store. Well, tonight, six years later, I got my candy — all of it. Welcome, gentlemen, to the Inquirer! Make up an extra copy of that picture and send it to the Chronicle, will you please? It will make you all happy to learn that our circulation this morning was the greatest in New York, 684,000."
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – George Bailey's words to the cruel Mr. Potter at the Loan Board in defense of George's deceased father.
George (James Stewart): "Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him, but to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you'll ever be… I know very well what you're talking about. You're talking about something you can't get your fingers on, and it's galling you. That's what you're talking about, I know. Well…I've said too much. I — You're the Board here. You do what you want with this thing. There's just one thing more, though. This town needs this measly one-horse institution if only to have some place where people can come without crawling to Potter"
The Treasure os Sierra Madre (1948) – In a flophouse before the expedition begins, grizzled prospector Howard delivers a wise description of “Gold Fever”.
Howard (Walter Huston): "Why is gold worth some twenty bucks an ounce?…A thousand men, say, go searching for gold, after six months one of 'em's lucky. One out of a thousand — his find represents not only his own labor, but that of 999 others to boot. That's uh, 6,000 months, uh, five hundred years. Scrabblin' over a mountain, going hungry and thirsty. An ounce of gold, Mister, is worth what it is because of the human labor that went into the finding and getting of it…Well, there's no other explanation mister, gold itself ain't good for nothing except for making jewelry with … or gold teeth. Ahh, gold is a devilish sort of thing anyway…Yeah, I know what gold does to men's souls."
Sunset Boulevard (1950) – Norma Desmond's demented, delusional speech as she descends her staircase to be arrested at the film's conclusion.
Norma (Gloria Swanson): "I can't go on with the scene. I'm too happy! Mr. De Mille, do you mind if I say a few words?… There's nothing else – just us – and the cameras – and those wonderful people out there in the dark. All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up."
On the Waterfront (1954) – Terry Malloy's "Coulda been a contender…" speech to his brother Charley in the back seat of a taxi-cab.
Terry (Marlon Brando): "It wasn't him, Charley! It was you. You remember that night in the Garden, you came down to my dressing room and said: 'Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson.' You remember that? 'This ain't your night!' My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors in the ball park – and whadda I get? A one-way ticket to Palookaville… You was my brother, Charley. You shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me – just a little bit – so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money….You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let's face it… It was you, Charley."
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) – Insane Air Force General Jack D. Ripper expresses suspicions that the Communists have conspired and polluted the "precious bodily fluids" of the American people.
Gen. Ripper (Sterling Hayden): "Do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk, ice cream? Ice cream, Mandrake? Children's ice cream!…You know when fluoridation began?…1946. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works. I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love…Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women…women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake…but I do deny them my essence."
Cool Hand Luke (1967) – New prisoners are given the 'rules' of the house by floorwalker Carr.
Carr (Clifton James): "Them clothes got laundry numbers on 'em. You remember your number and always wear the ones that has your number. Any man forgets his number spends the night in the box. These here spoons, you keep with ya. Any man loses his spoon spends a night in the box. There's no playin' grab-ass or fightin' in the buildin'. You got a grudge against another man, you fight him Saturday afternoon. Any man playin' grab-ass or fightin' in the buildin' spends a night in the box."
M.A.S.H. (1970) – Capt. Trapper John's "We are the pros" speech to a hostile chief nurse Captain Peterson.
Trapper John (Elliott Gould): "Look, mother, I want to go to work in one hour. We are the Pros from Dover and we figure to crack this kid's chest and get out to the golf course before it gets dark. So you go find the gas-passer and you have him pre-medicate this patient. Then bring me the latest pictures on him. The ones we saw must be 48 hours old by now. Then call the kitchen and have them rustle us up some lunch….(Ham and eggs will be all right.) Steak would be even better. And then give me at least ONE nurse who knows how to work in close without getting her TITS in my way!"
Dirty Harry (1971) – Harry Callahan's taunting of a wounded, downed criminal.
Callahan (Clint Eastwood): "I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?"
Jaws (1975) – Quint's recollection of the grisly story of the USS Indianapolis and it's ill-fated crew left to die in shark-infested waters.
Quint (Robert Shaw): "So we formed ourselves into tight groups…the idea was, the shark comes to the nearest man and he starts poundin' and hollerin' and screamin'. Sometimes the shark go away. Sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into ya, right into your eyes. Y'know, the thing about a shark, he's got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eyes. When he comes after ya, he doesn't seem to be livin' until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white, and then – aww, then you hear that terrible high-pitch screamin', the ocean turns red, and in spite of all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and rip ya to pieces."
Network (1976) – Howard Beale's “I’m as mad as hell” speech to his viewers.
Howard (Peter Finch): "I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot – I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. (shouting) You've got to say: 'I'm a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!'
Halloween (1978) – Dr. Sam Loomis' chilling description of the evil Michael Myers.
Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence): "I met him fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no, uh, conscience, no understanding and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six year old child with this blind, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes, the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply evil."
Apocalypse Now (1979) – Lt. Col. Kilgore's (Robert Duvall) beachside "The smell of napalm in the morning" monologue during a raid.
Kilgore (Robert Duvall): "You smell that? Do you smell that? … Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like … victory. Someday this war's gonna end."
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – Yoda's response to Luke Skywalker's claim that his ship is too large to levitate with the Force.
Yoda (voice of Frank Oz): "Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not, for my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes, even between the land and ship."
The Terminator (1984) – While driving and pursued, Kyle Reese describes and warns Sarah Connor about the unemotional, relentless cyborg Terminator Model 101.
Reese (Michael Biehn): "I'm Reese… assigned to protect you. You've been targeted for termination…It's very important that you live… He's not a man – a machine. A Terminator. A Cyberdyne Systems Model 101…Not a robot. A cyborg. A cybernetic organism… The Terminator's an infiltration unit, part man, part machine. Underneath, it's a hyper-alloy combat chassis – microprocessor-controlled, fully armored. Very tough. But outside, it's living human tissue – flesh, skin, hair, blood, grown for the cyborgs…The 600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy. But these are new, they look human. Sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot. Listen, and understand! That Terminator is out there! It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!"
The Goonies (1985) – The confession by fat kid Lawrence 'Chunk' Cohen when interrogated by the Fratellis.
Chunk (Jeff Cohen): "Everything. OK! I'll talk! In third grade, I cheated on my history exam. In fourth grade, I stole my uncle Max's toupee and I glued it on my face when I was Moses in my Hebrew School play. In fifth grade, I knocked my sister Edie down the stairs and I blamed it on the dog… When my Mom sent me to the summer camp for fat kids and then they served lunch, I got nuts and I pigged out and they kicked me out… But the worst thing I ever done – I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed up to the balcony and then, t-t-then, I made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa – and then I dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then, this was horrible, all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life."
Full Metal Jacket (1987) – Gunnery Sgt. Hartman's introductory speech – a degrading taunting of all the newly-inducted boot camp recruits at Parris Island.
Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermy) ("I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your Senior Drill Instructor. From now on, you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be: "Sir!" Do you maggots understand that?… If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon, you will be a minister of death, praying for war. But until that day, you are pukes! You're the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human f–king beings! You are nothing but unorganized grab-asstic pieces of amphibian s–t! Because I am hard, you will not like me. But the more you hate me, the more you will learn. I am hard, but I am fair! There is no racial bigotry here! I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless! And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved Corps! Do you maggots understand that?… Who said that? Who the f–k said that? Who's the slimy little Communist s–t twinkle-toed cocksucker down here, who just signed his own death warrant? Nobody, huh?! The fairy f–king godmother said it! Out-f–king-standing! I will P.T. you all until you f–king die! I'll P.T. you until your assholes are sucking buttermilk. Was it you, you scroungy little f–k, huh?!… (Joker: "Sir, I said it, Sir.") Well, no s–t. What have we got here, a f–king comedian? Private Joker? I admire your honesty. Hell, I like you. You can come over to my house and f–k my sister. (Sergeant Hartman punches Joker in the stomach) You little scumbag! I've got your name! I've got your ass! You will not laugh! You will not cry! You will learn by the numbers I will teach you! Now get up! Get on your feet! You had best unf–k yourself or I will unscrew your head and s–t down your neck!"… Do you think I'm cute, Private Pyle? Do you think I'm funny?… Then wipe that disgusting grin off your face… Well, any f–king time, sweetheart!… Private Pyle, I'm gonna give you three seconds, exactly three-f–king seconds to wipe that stupid-lookin' grin off your face or I will gouge out your eyeballs and skull-f–k you!"
Wall Street (1987) – Gordon Gekko's "Greed is good." advice to the annual stockholder's meeting of Teldar Paper.
Gekko (Michael Douglas): "I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them. The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed – for lack of a better word – is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms – greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind. And Greed – you mark my words – will not only save Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much."
Glory (1989) – Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins' angry "So full of hate…" chastisement of Trip.
Sgt. Rawlins (Morgan Freeman): "And who are you? So full of hate that you have to fight everybody, because you've been whipped and chased by hounds. Well that might not be living, but it sure as hell ain't dying. And dying's been what these white boys have been doing for going on three years now, dying by the thousands, dying 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!"
Lean on Me (1989) – Principal Joe Clark's (Morgan Freeman) address to Eastside High School Staff.
Clark (Morgan Freeman): "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". Are there any questions?"
A Few Good Men (1992) – Col. Nathan R. Jessup's courtroom tirade defense about ‘Code Red’.
Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson): "You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know – that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall — you need me on that wall. We use words like "honor," "code," "loyalty." We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand the post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to!"
True Romance (1993) Clifford Worley's inflammatory insults to Sicilian mobster Vincenzo Coccotti during a torture interrogation.
Clifford (Dennis Hopper): "You're Sicilian, huh?…Ya know, I read a lot. Especially about things, about history. I find that shit fascinating. Here's a fact I don't know whether you know or not. Sicilians were spawned by niggers… It's a fact. Yeah, you see, uh, Sicilians have black blood pumpin' through their hearts. If you don't believe me, you can look it up. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, you see, the Moors conquered Sicily. And the Moors are niggers. You see, way back then, Sicilians were like wops in northern Italy. They all had blonde hair and blue eyes. But, uh, well, then the Moors moved in there, well, they changed the whole country. They did so much f–kin' with Sicilian women, huh, that they changed the whole blood-line forever. That's why blonde hair and blue eyes became black hair and dark skin. You know, it's absolutely amazing to me to think that to this day, hundreds of years later, that uh, that Sicilians still carry that nigger gene… I'm quotin' history. It's written. It's a fact. It's written…Your ancestors are niggers…Hey, yeah, and, and your great, great, great, great grandmother f–ked a nigger, yeah, and she had a half-nigger kid. Now, if that's a fact, now tell me, am I lying? 'Cause you, you're part eggplant."
Braveheart (1995) – William Wallace's inspirational and patriotic "They'll never take our freedom" speech to his army.
Wallace (Mel Gibson): "And I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have 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!"
Good Will Hunting (1997) – Will Hunting's debate at the 'Bow and Arrow' Harvard bar to a pretentious student.
Will (Matt Damon): "Of course that's your contention. You're a first year grad student. You just got finished readin' some Marxian historian — Pete Garrison probably. You're gonna be convinced of that 'til next month when you get to James Lemon, and then you're gonna be talkin' about how the economies of Virginia and Pennsylvania were entrepreneurial and capitalist way back in 1740. That's gonna last until next year — you're gonna be in here regurgitating Gordon Wood, talkin' about, you know, the Pre-Revolutionary utopia and the capital-forming effects of military mobilization… Wood drastically — Wood drastically underestimates the impact of social distinctions predicated upon wealth, especially inherited wealth.' You got that from Vickers, 'Work in Essex County,' page 98, right? Yeah, I read that too. Were you gonna plagiarize the whole thing for us? Do you have any thoughts of your own on this matter? Or do you…is that your thing? You come into a bar. You read some obscure passage and then pretend…you pawn it off as your own idea just to impress some girls and embarrass my friend? See, the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you're gonna start doin' some thinkin' on your own and you're gonna come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life. One: don't do that. And two: You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f—-n' education you coulda' got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library."
Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Captain Miller's address to his Unit on ‘Saving’ Private Ryan.
Captain Miller (Tom Hanks): "Mike? What's the pool on me up to right now? What's it up to? What is it, three hundred dollars — is that it? Three hundred? I'm a school teacher. I teach English Composition in this little town called Adley, Pennsylvania. The last eleven years, I've been at Thomas Alva Edison High School. I was coach of the baseball team in the spring time. Back home when I tell people what I do for a living, they think, well, that, that figures. But over here it's a big, a big mystery. So I guess I've changed some. Sometimes I wonder if I've changed so much my wife is even gonna recognize me whenever it is I get back to her — and how I'll ever be able to tell her about days like today. Ryan — I don't know anything about Ryan. I don't care. Man means nothin' to me. It's just a name. But if — you know — if going to Remeal and finding him so he can go home, if that earns me the right to get back to my wife — well, then, then that's my mission. You wanna leave? You wanna go off and fight the war? Alright. Alright, I won't stop you. I'll even put in the paperwork. I just know that every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel."
Ratatouille (2007) – Snobbish and harsh food critic Anton Ego's glowing, self-actualizing review of restaurant Gusteau's cuisine, after learning it had been prepared by a rat.
Ego (voice of Peter O'Toole): "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: 'Anyone can cook.' But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more."
The Dark Knight (2008) – The grotesque Joker's intimidating rant about the origin of his hideous facial scars to Rachel Dawes, while brandishing a knife at her.
Joker (Heath Ledger): "Well, you look nervous. Is it the scars? You wanna know how I got 'em? Come here. Hey! Look at me. So I had a wife, beautiful, like you, who tells me I worry too much. Who tells me I oughta smile more. Who gambles and gets in deep with the sharks… Look at me! One day, they carve her face. And we have no money for surgeries. She can't take it. I just want to see her smile again, hmm? I just want her to know that I don't care about the scars. So… I stick a razor in my mouth and do this…to myself. And you know what? She can't stand the sight of me! She leaves. Now I see the funny side. Now I'm always smiling!"