Art

The Best Moments in Film: Speeches

I haven’t worked on this series in a while, but now seems as apt a time as any to continue this project. You’ll recall that the earlier focus was on the best car chases and the best shootouts in film.

Well, as indicated above, in this post I hope to draw attention to some of the best speeches in film. I use the word “speeches” rather loosely in this context as some of the below are more accurately monologues or relatively brief conversations. But, let’s not split hairs too much.

As before, a consistent problem I face with snippets of video on YouTube is the fact that I either cannot find the piece I am looking for or a piece I do find gets yanked offline due to copyright disputes. I do go through these posts periodically and try to update any inactive links, but there is only so much your editor can do.

And, obviously, this is highly subjective. I expect much dissent and disagreement. And I am sure that I have forgotten some actors or performances. Please feel free to correct me in the “comments” section.

Lastly, some of the speeches I would like to embed in this post are just presented as links below.  This is because the individual responsible for posting the video on YouTube has opted to not allow the video clip to be posted elsewhere.  Thus you, dear reader, will need to click through on the link to YouTube to see the video in question.

So, without any further introduction, let’s get down to the “Great Speeches” in film…

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Before starting this project, I had always admired Al Pacino’s work as an actor, but when I started compiling this list, it drove home the reality of how many truly great movies and scenes he has appeared in. So, the problem became one of narrowing down the Al Pacino speeches to prevent a complete domination of the “Great Speeches” list by Al Pacino. Thus, the below which includes some of his best work, is far from a complete sampling:

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone handling Moe Greene in The Godfather:

I tried to find video that linked these two scenes, but was unsuccessful. The two should be considered one because the below is just a continuation of the conversation in another room:

Marlon Brando is brilliant in The Godfather as well:

Al Pacino’s speech in Scent of a Woman is brilliant:

As is this one in City Hall:

There are so many great scenes delivered by Al Pacino’s character Tony Montana in Scarface… But, I’d have to put the “bad guy” speech in the top slot. I would love to have the entire restaurant scene as it includes Tony Montana’s reflections that bring about the explosive scene with Michelle Pfeiffer, but the below is the best I could find (and it’s pretty good as it includes the entire “bad guy” speech):

Always fun to watch an arrogant prick being taken down a few notches… Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting:

R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket… Wow. I love this character and could watch Ermey in action all day. This speech to the new recruits at the beginning of the film stands out:

Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross provides a spectacular speech on sales:

Ben Affleck in Boiler Room delivers another solid sales scene:

V for Vendetta weighs in with Hugo Weaving delivering the “Great Speech” goods with the letter “V”.

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter provides many standout lines. His brutal deconstruction of Jodie Foster’s character in The Silence of the Lambs is among the better (or even best) of these:

Speeches don’t need to be confined just to humans… The HAL 9000 delivers an unforgettable monologue in 2001: A Space Odyssey as Dave Bowman methodically shuts him/it down:

Apocalypse Now provides many great scenes and speeches (Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz immediately comes to mind), but Robert Duvall’s “napalm in the morning” speech seems to stand out above all in this film:

Christopher Walken seems to be an actor that many people have difficulty categorizing. Nevertheless, he provides many memorable performances. Here are two from The King of New York:

Joe Pesci provides a lot of quality material. I think he’s particularly good in Goodfellas:

And also in this funny scene in My Cousin Vinny:

Clint Eastwood is usually a man of few words in his films, so Dirty Harry‘s “Do you feel lucky punk?” scene qualifies as a lengthy speech for Eastwood:

Charlie Chaplin’s speech in The Great Dictator is considered by some to be one of the greatest speeches ever made. It certainly is impressive, hence its inclusion on this list:

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Special Situations and Honorable Mentions:

Some may be surprised to not see Gordon Gekko’s “Greed” speech from Wall Street featured above. Well, it should be, but I looked everywhere and just could not find a version of it anywhere online. So, I’m afraid it remains relegated to “Special Situation” status.

Any Given Sunday provides another great Al Pacino speech, but I can’t let Al completely dominate the “Great Speeches” category and so the deck has been stacked against him and I have downgraded this to “Honorable Mention” status:

Casino has loads of great performances and scenes… The compilation below has a number of them. One that is missing is Sharon Stone’s performance where she is arguing with Robert De Niro’s character outside of their Las Vegas home. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that scene, but there are plenty of other greats here:

1986’s Ruthless People has a number of great speeches, particularly by Danny DeVito, but I could not find any of them online. Below is the trailer for that film:

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