Starting with the following, I'm going to try and compile a definitive list of the greatest speeches ever captured on film...
Scent of a Woman
A prep school student needing money agrees to "babysit" a blind man, but the job is not at all what he anticipated. (156 mins.)
“ LT COL. FRANK SLADE (Al Pacino): "Mr. Sims...doesn't need to labeled: 'Still worthy of being a Baird Man'. What the hell is that? What is your motto here? Boys, inform on your classmates and save your hide; anything short of that we're gonna burn you at the stake? Well, gentlemen, when the shit hits the fan some guys run and some guys stay. Here's Charlie facing the fire; and there's George hidin' in big Daddy's pocket! And what are you doin'? You're gonna reward George and destroy Charlie. I don't know who went to this place, William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan, William Tell -- whoever. Their spirit is dead...if they ever had one. It's gone. You're building a rat ship here. A vessel for sea-goin' snitches. And if you think your preparing these minnows for manhood, you better think again, because I say you are killing the very spirit this institution proclaims it instills! What a sham. What kind of a show are you guys puttin' on here today. I mean, the only class in this act is sittin' next to me. And I'm here to tell ya this boy's soul is intact. It's non-negotiable. You know how I know? Someone here - and I'm not gonna say who - offered to buy it. Only Charlie here wasn't sellin'.
MR TRASK: Sir, you are out of order!
"Outta order? I'll show you outta order! You don't know what outta order is, Mr. Trask! I'd show you but I'm too old; I'm too tired; I'm too fuckin' blind. If I were the man I was five years ago I'd take a FLAME-THROWER to this place! Outta order. Who the hell you think you're talkin' to? I've been around, you know? There was a time I could see. And I have seen boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there isn't nothin' like the sight of an amputated spirit; there is no prosthetic for that. You think you're merely sendin' this splendid foot-soldier back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are executin' his SOUL!! And why?! Because he's not a Baird man! Baird men, ya hurt this boy, you're going to be Baird Bums, the lot of ya. And Harry, Jimmy, Trent, wherever you are out there, FUCK YOU too!
"As I came in here, I heard those words, "cradle of leadership." Well, when the bow breaks, the cradle will fall. And it has fallen here; it has fallen. Makers of men; creators of leaders; be careful what kind of leaders you're producin' here. I don't know if Charlie's silence here today is right or wrong. I'm not a judge or jury. But I can tell you this: he won't sell anybody out to buy his future!! And that, my friends, is called integrity! That's called courage! Now that's the stuff leaders should be made of. Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard. Now here's Charlie. He's come to the crossroads. He has chosen a path. It's the right path. It's a path made of principle, that leads to character. Let him continue on his journey. You hold this boy's future in your hands, committee. It's a valuable future. Believe me. Don't destroy it! Protect it. Embrace it. It's gonna make ya proud one day, I promise you". ” - Jaimie Kanwar
A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend. (122 mins.)
“ LESTER BURNHAM (Kevin Spacey): "My name is Lester Burnham. This is my street. This is my neighborhood. This is my life. I am 42 years old. In less than a year, I will be dead. Of course, I don't know that yet, and in a way, I'm dead already. Look at me, jerking off in the shower. This will be the highlight of my day. It's all downhill from here. That's my wife Carolyn. See the way the handle on those pruning shears match her gardening clogs? That's not an accident. That's our neighbor, Jim, and that's his lover, Jim. Man, I get exhausted just watching her. She wasn't always like this. She used to be happy. We used to be happy. My daughter, Jane. Only child. Janie's a pretty typical teenager - angry, insecure, confused. I wish I could tell her that's all going to pass, but I don't want to lie to her. Both my wife and daughter think I'm this gigantic loser. And they're right. I have lost something. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I know I didn't always feel this...sedated. But you know what? It's never too late to get it back". ” - Jaimie Kanwar
The World War II phase of the career of the controversial American general, George S. Patton
. (172 mins.)
“ GENERAL PATTON (George C. Scott): "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. Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight - wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Now, an army is a team - it lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating. Now, we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know, by God, I actually pity those poor bastards we're goin' up against. By God, I do. We're not just gonna shoot the bastard, we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel. Now, some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them, spill their blood, shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do. Now there's another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're gonna kick him in the ass. We're gonna kick the hell out of him all the time and we're gonna go through him like crap through a goose. Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you: 'What did you do in the Great World War II?', you won't have to say: 'Well, I shoveled shitt in Louisiana.' All right now, you sons-of-bitches, you know how I feel - and I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. That's all". ” - Jaimie Kanwar
A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit. (121 mins.)
“ HOWARD BEALE (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 gonna take this anymore!" ” - Jaimie Kanwar
A tale about a happily married couple who would like to have children. Tracy teaches art, Andy's a college dean. Things are never the same after she is taken to hospital and operated upon by Jed, a "know all" doctor. (107 mins.)
“ DR JED HILL (Alec Baldwin): "The question is, 'Do I have a 'God Complex'?...which makes me wonder if this lawyer has any idea as to the kind of grades one has to receive in college to be accepted at a top medical school. Or if you have the vaguest clue as to how talented someone has to be to lead a surgical team. I have an M.D. from Harvard. I am board certified in cardio-thoracic medicine and trauma surgery. I have been awarded citations from seven different medical boards in New England, and I am never, ever sick at sea. So I ask you: when someone goes into that chapel and they fall on their knees and they pray to God that their wife doesn't miscarry, or that their daughter doesn't bleed to death, or that their mother doesn't suffer acute neural trauma from post-operative shock, who do you think they're praying to? Now, you go ahead and read your Bible *Dennis*, and you go to your church, and with any luck you might win the annual raffle, but if you're looking for God, he was in operating room number two on November 17th, and he doesn't like to be second-guessed. You ask me if I have a God complex? Let me tell you something: I Am God". ” - Jaimie Kanwar
The Shawshank Redemption
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. (142 mins.)
“ ELLIS BOYD 'RED' REDDING (Morgan Freeman): "Rehabilitated? Well, now, let me see. You know, I don't have any idea what that means. I know what you think it means, sonny. To me, it's just a made up word; a politician's word, so that young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really wanna know? Am I sorry for what I did? There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I wanna talk to him. I wanna try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are, but I can't. That kid's long gone and this old man is all that's left. I gotta live with that. Rehabilitated? It's just a bullshit word. So, you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time, because to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit". ” - Jaimie Kanwar
When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, Sir William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England. (178 mins.)
“ WILLIAM WALLACE (Mel Gibson): "I am William Wallace! And I see a whole army of my countrymen 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? 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!". ” - Jaimie Kanwar
The accidental shooting of a boy in New York leads to an investigation by the Deputy Mayor, and unexpectedly far-reaching consequences. (111 mins.)
“ NYC MAYOR JOHN PAPPAS (Al Pacino): "I was warned not to come here. I was warned. They warned me: 'Don't stand behind that coffin.' But why should I heed such a warning, when a heartbeat is silent and a child lies dead? 'Don't stand behind this coffin.' That boy was as pure and as innocent as the driven snow. But I must stand here because I have not given you what you should have. Until we can walk abroad and recreate ourselves, until we can stroll along the streets like boulevards, congregate in parks free from fear, our families mingling, our children laughing, our hearts joined - until that day, we have no city. You can label me a failure until that day. The first and perhaps only great mayor was Greek. He was Pericles of Athens, and he lived some 2,500 years ago, and he said: 'All things good of this Earth flow into the City, because of the City's greatness.' Well, we were great once. Can we not be great again? Now, I put that question to James Bone, and there's only silence. Yet could not something pass from this sweet youth to me? Could he not empower me to find in myself the strength to have the knowledge to summon up the courage to accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task of making a city livable? Just livable. There was a palace that was a city. It was a palace! It was a palace, and it can be a palace again! A palace, in which there is no king or queen, or dukes or earls or princes, but subjects all. Subjects beholden to each other, to make a better place to live. Is that too much to ask? Are we asking too much for thisIs it beyond our reach? Because if it is, then we are nothing but sheep being herded to the final slaughterhouse! I will not go down, that way! I choose to fight back! I choose to rise, not fall! I choose to live, not die! And I know, I know that what's within me is also within you. That's why I ask you now to join me. Join me, rise up with me, rise up on the wings of this slain angel. We'll rebuild on the soul of this little warrior. We will pick up his standard and raise it high! Carry it forward until this city - your city - our city - his city - is a palace of God! Is a palace of God! I am with you, little James. I am you". ” - Jaimie Kanwar
We Were Soldiers
The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War and the soldiers on both sides that fought it. (138 mins.)
“ GENERAL HAL MOORE (Mel Gibson): "Look around you. In the 7th Cavalry, we got a Captain from the Ukraine. Another from Puerto Rico. We've got Japanese, Chinese, Blacks, Hispanics, Cherokee Indians, Jews and Gentiles - all Americans. Now here in the States, some men in this unit may experience discrimination because of race or creed. But for you and me now, all that is gone. We're moving into the valley of the shadow of death, where you will watch the back of the man next to you, as he will watch yours. And you won't care what color he is or by what name he calls God. They say we're leavin' home. We're goin' to what home was always supposed to be. So let us understand the situation. We are goin' into battle against a tough and determined enemy. I can't promise you that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear before you and before Almighty God that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off. And I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together. So help me God". ” - Jaimie Kanwar
No Country for Old Men
Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande. (122 mins.)
“ SHERIFF BELL (Tommy Lee Jones): "I was Sheriff of this county when I was 25 years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman, father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time, him up in Plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time Sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough'd never carry one - that's the younger Jim. Gaston Borkins wouldn't wear one up in Comanche County. I always liked to hear about the old-timers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can't help but compare yourself against the old-timers. Can't help but wonder how they'd have operated in these times. There was this boy I sent to the 'lectric chair at Huntsville here awhile back. My arrest and my testimony. He killed a 14 year-old girl. Papers said it was a crime of passion, but he told me there wasn't any passion to it. Told me that he'd been plannin' to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out, he'd do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell: 'Be there in about fifteen minutes.' I don't know what to make of that. I surely don't. The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willin' to die to even do this job. But, I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet somethin' I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He'd have to say: 'OK., I'll be a part of this world". ” - Jaimie Kanwar
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (109 mins.)
“ NORMAN BATES (Anthony Perkins): "It's sad when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son, but I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have, years ago. He was always bad and in the end, he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man. As if I could do anything except just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. Oh, they know I can't even move a finger and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even gonna swat that fly. I hope they are watching. They'll see. They'll see and they'll know and they'll say, 'Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly". ” - Jaimie Kanwar