4:35 am - 11/06/2012

The Greatest Movie Speeches

Filmic moments of strength, weakness, and wisdom have inspired some of the most powerful speeches in cinema. With the arrival of Patton on Blu-ray tomorrow, we felt compelled to revisit a few memorable speeches in film history. George C. Scott starred in Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1970 war drama as General George S. Patton, and we first meet the actor during a stern opening address to the troops of the US 3rd Army, framed by a massive American flag. It’s a spare, bold moment that sets the tone for the film and introduces Patton as an uncompromising military leader ready to fight. It’s also a reminder that impressive, intense dialogue can outshine even the greatest of special effects. Click through for a look back at some quotable, emotional, and uplifting speeches that have graced the big screen. We’ve left plenty of room so you can share your favorites in the comments, below.

Full Metal Jacket

Young men from every demographic arrive on Parris Island in 1967 ready to be transformed forever. They’ve joined the Marines in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, where they will become molded into a cohesive killing machine and taught that order, uniformity, and discipline are essential to their survival. It’s a dehumanizing process, which we’re first introduced to by a brutal drill sergeant — played by real-life retired Marine, R. Lee Ermey. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Ermey) wastes no time putting the men in their place, issuing harsh guidelines, ruthless insults, and even physically assaulting the recruits. “Here you are all equally worthless,” he spews at the men. His introductory barrage sets the tone for the film’s larger-than-life performances, unsettling surreality, and Kubrick’s meditation about the effects of war.


Network appeared on the scene after Watergate had ravaged the country and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky lived through the on-air suicide of Florida TV reporter Christine Chubbuck. It’s a film filled with speeches pulsing with anxiety, distrust, and contempt for the media — an eerily prescient critique that in many ways foretold the Internet, reality television, and the downturn of Hollywood blockbuster spectacles. “Mad prophet of the airwaves” Howard Beale (Peter Finch in his last feature film) delivers an impassioned speech to TV viewers, excerpts of which have become a catchphrase in the pop culture landscape. His “mad as hell” monologue is as pertinent now as it was 36 years ago.

Malcolm X

African-American Muslim minister and activist Malcolm X was a fiery orator, and even at his most militant had a gift for inspiring people and imparting a powerful, honest message. Denzel Washington’s incredible performance as the former Nation of Islam leader — a role that won him an Academy nomination, but left him robbed of the award that was later given to him for… Training Day (argh) — captures the essence of Malcolm in appearance and word. His work isn’t just a well-crafted illusion, however, as this scene featuring an intense speech to a group of African-Americans in Harlem proves.


Before Mel Gibson went off the deep end, he delivered a memorable performance as 13th-century warrior William Wallace, who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I. The historical epic finds Gibson’s fearless patriot addressing his men on horseback as they prepare to head into battle. He tells them that although they may fight and die, if they run, they face a more devastating consequence that could haunt them for a lifetime. The dramatic speech impresses a feeling of brotherhood amongst the men — even revealing a bit of humor as Wallace jokes about the myths surrounding his invincibility.

Wall Street

Oliver Stone’s Wall Street inspired an entire generation to pursue a career as Wall Street moneymakers, praising Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko — an amalgamation of several real-life figures — as an archetype of ambition and power. “Greed is good,” Gekko tells us — and we don’t have to understand the finer points of the stock exchange to feel the knots in our stomach when he advocates his version of the “evolutionary spirit.” The speech reinforces that the film is a portrait of 1980′s excess and a morally corrupt, capitalist system — on and off the trading floor.

Fight Club

After a reckless soap maker (Brad Pitt) and an insomniac office worker (Edward Norton) form an underground fight club, the rules and philosophy of the fringe group are established when Tyler Durden (Pitt) delivers a speech to the men before fisticuffs. The club’s philosophy was born from feelings of emasculation and a disgust for consumer culture. Durden believes the men’s fullest potential has been squandered. They’ve been lied to, Durden declares, and they’re “very, very pissed off.”

Blade Runner

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.” We know Rutger Hauer’s villainous replicant is speaking to an audience of one, but the message he shares — brief, but evocative lines — is one to all of mankind about fate and mortality.

A Few Good Men

“I run my unit how I run my unit. You want to investigate me, roll the dice and take your chances. I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4,000 Cubans who are trained to kill me, so don’t think for one second that you can come down here, flash a badge, and make me nervous,” Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup tells us in A Few Good Men. He’s a formidable, menacing military figure that isn’t about to let an inexperienced lawyer (Tom Cruise) break him — until the men enter the courtroom, and the truth about a Marine’s death is revealed. It’s impossible to tear your eyes away from Nicholson during his famous speech, and his twisted sense of duty is chillingly convincing.

Dead Poets Society

Universities the world over should just screen the speech from Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society for their graduating classes. Robin Williams plays an unorthodox English professor who inspires his students through poetry, encouraging them to “seize the day.” His uplifting lesson in the hallway of Welton Academy, in which he summons the voices of the past, is a profound moment not only for the impressionable prep school boys, but for anyone with hopes and dreams of a bright future.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Aww, we miss Sam after revisiting his tear-worthy speech to friend Frodo in Two Towers about “the tales that mattered” and what’s worth fighting for. At this point in the film, the two hobbits have hit rock bottom, their mission seems impossible, and all hope feels lost. Sam insists they continue the fight, though, and believes that “there’s some good in this world.” The two child-like beings are unlikely heroes, which is what makes Sam’s words so inspiring. He proves that wisdom and bravery comes in all sizes and walks of life.

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crazyventures 6th-Nov-2012 02:43 am (UTC)
Where the fuck is Independence Day?
juliesaracen 6th-Nov-2012 02:45 am (UTC)
violue 6th-Nov-2012 02:45 am (UTC)
I just assumed it would be here.

And it's not.

This is a travesty.
vehiclesshockme 6th-Nov-2012 02:48 am (UTC)
Fucking seriously!

Although pretty much all my non-American friends think it's dumb as fuck. :-X
crazyventures 6th-Nov-2012 02:49 am (UTC)
It's pure 90s American cheese but I love it sfm
winniechili 6th-Nov-2012 02:50 am (UTC)
All your non-American friends are horrible then honestly you should drop them.
ellaellaeheheh 6th-Nov-2012 02:57 am (UTC)
it made me think of all the movie moments that try to put america the great inside my brains since I was a kid lol

I liked it, but now I do cringe a bit
midnight_lite 6th-Nov-2012 02:48 am (UTC)
That's the one speech I was looking for
winniechili 6th-Nov-2012 02:49 am (UTC)
This is word for word the comment I was going to make.
mistyraven 6th-Nov-2012 02:50 am (UTC)

I am personally offended it is not on this list
hera_bearrra 6th-Nov-2012 02:50 am (UTC)
ellaellaeheheh 6th-Nov-2012 02:55 am (UTC)
omg I was just watching Independence Day on TV here. made me feel all proud of america, and I'm not american. they better not fuck it up tomorrow.
ride_the_jitney 6th-Nov-2012 02:55 am (UTC)
seriously. one of my fav movies
milkchokolate 6th-Nov-2012 02:55 am (UTC)
lol first thing I thought of!
ace_kay 6th-Nov-2012 02:56 am (UTC)
IKR. I practically have that entire movie memorized.
hazel_belle 6th-Nov-2012 02:59 am (UTC)
I am disappointed that it is not on the list, INVALID
nebulous_mirage 6th-Nov-2012 03:08 am (UTC)
IKR i'm shocked
preeho 6th-Nov-2012 03:10 am (UTC)
that's what i came in here for
hotcement 6th-Nov-2012 03:14 am (UTC)
thank FUCK this is the first comment
nemoteen 6th-Nov-2012 03:17 am (UTC)
It's what I came in here for!
thaumos 6th-Nov-2012 03:30 am (UTC)
MTE. That was the speech that first came into mind when reading the title.
stuckmodebabe 6th-Nov-2012 03:31 am (UTC)
LOL I didn't even read the list since I assumed it would be on here.
josiefier 6th-Nov-2012 03:35 am (UTC)
Came in for exactly this.
tvisgood 6th-Nov-2012 04:21 am (UTC)
Only thing I came into this post for.
buckeye_love 6th-Nov-2012 04:28 am (UTC)
trials_by_fire 6th-Nov-2012 05:02 am (UTC)

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fuskeez 6th-Nov-2012 05:38 am (UTC)
I automatically assumed it would be on here!
thethingiswhat 6th-Nov-2012 10:25 am (UTC)
only reason i clicked the cut was to see if it was there. i'm disappointed.
lostinshalott 6th-Nov-2012 01:10 pm (UTC)
I came in here for it!
kikiblues 6th-Nov-2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
Perfect first comment- because seriously
moddchicc 6th-Nov-2012 02:43 am (UTC)
That speech from Network is always relevant
kanyewest 6th-Nov-2012 02:44 am (UTC)
flop list, where is the great dictator?
williammiller 6th-Nov-2012 03:04 am (UTC)
IA. That's the greatest, imo.
grammaire 6th-Nov-2012 03:07 am (UTC)
msclarequilty 6th-Nov-2012 03:07 am (UTC)
ashtraysoul 6th-Nov-2012 03:16 am (UTC)
leaf_collector 6th-Nov-2012 03:32 am (UTC)
jerseystrife 6th-Nov-2012 03:46 am (UTC)

Came here to see it, felt disappointed.
wonderpup 6th-Nov-2012 04:13 am (UTC)
zurbraran 6th-Nov-2012 04:39 am (UTC)
Flop list, where is o'ren ishii telling everyone to shut the fuck up about her ancestry before she starts chopping off some heads?
saintssin 6th-Nov-2012 05:55 am (UTC)
evenstarnikki 6th-Nov-2012 08:25 am (UTC)

i was just gonna chime in before realizing they didn`t even include it wtfffff. my first viewing of that was like a religious experience. few moments in cinema have ever been so perfect and heartfelt.
fabouluz 6th-Nov-2012 02:44 am (UTC)
I will forver love Sam's speech in LoTR :'(
vehiclesshockme 6th-Nov-2012 02:48 am (UTC)
That's actually my favorite film speech.
x_myheart_ 6th-Nov-2012 02:45 am (UTC)
wheresandrae 6th-Nov-2012 02:47 am (UTC)
midnight_lite 6th-Nov-2012 02:48 am (UTC)
endingonfire 6th-Nov-2012 02:53 am (UTC)
comment twins <3
hoot 6th-Nov-2012 02:54 am (UTC)
God I love Charlie Chaplin so much.
zoaster_toaster 6th-Nov-2012 02:57 am (UTC)
ficklemuse 6th-Nov-2012 02:59 am (UTC)
I was just coming here to post this. Best movie speech ever.
williammiller 6th-Nov-2012 03:04 am (UTC)
lol, I just posted this. What a flop list for not including it.
honey_child 6th-Nov-2012 03:17 am (UTC)
The 'Kingdom of God' line always makes me want to cry. I love Chaplin.
beaucadeau 6th-Nov-2012 03:20 am (UTC)
It's saddening that all these years later, his horror is still our reality.
leaf_collector 6th-Nov-2012 03:37 am (UTC)
A+ everything else on the list is irrelevant.

(though I do like the Mad as Hell speech too...)
toilandblood 6th-Nov-2012 07:16 am (UTC)
yes! omg THANK YOU
my first thought before i even clicked on the thread.
shoparazzi 6th-Nov-2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU, I was gonna say..
zoaster_toaster 6th-Nov-2012 02:45 am (UTC)
All good, but missing this:

vehiclesshockme 6th-Nov-2012 02:47 am (UTC)
I was just about to post this.
scousing 6th-Nov-2012 02:51 am (UTC)
i hate this jingo-istic excuse of a movie
mhfromnh 6th-Nov-2012 04:17 am (UTC)
sarahsumbrella 6th-Nov-2012 05:14 pm (UTC)
Same. Its trash, enjoyable trash, but still awful.
ellaellaeheheh 6th-Nov-2012 02:59 am (UTC)
I love this movie but now that I'm older I totally cringe at this lol
hazel_belle 6th-Nov-2012 03:30 am (UTC)
such an awesomely cringtastic movie that I cannot help but fucking love...
shelostcontro1 6th-Nov-2012 02:46 am (UTC)
wheresandrae 6th-Nov-2012 02:47 am (UTC)
i wish this post was about monologues but
shelostcontro1 6th-Nov-2012 02:49 am (UTC)
lol idk it's kind of a speech to america in my mind
violue 6th-Nov-2012 02:47 am (UTC)
I didn't think he would actually die, because at that point I'd never seen/read something where the narrator died before... so I was horrified when he got shot... "WTF THAT CAN'T HAPPEN, HE'S TELLING THE STORY IN PAST TENSE"
grammaire 6th-Nov-2012 03:08 am (UTC)
It makes me sad that people seem to hate this movie because I think it's actually one of my favs ever. Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening are just so incredible.
theconsortiumxf 8th-Nov-2012 01:36 am (UTC)
idk how this and Shawshank Redemption are missing from the list.
violue 6th-Nov-2012 02:46 am (UTC)
wheresandrae 6th-Nov-2012 02:46 am (UTC)
r lee ermey is a beast
sursumcorda excuse me6th-Nov-2012 02:47 am (UTC)
nikkyc2001 Re: excuse me6th-Nov-2012 03:06 am (UTC)
OMG yes
piratesswoop Re: excuse me6th-Nov-2012 06:09 am (UTC)
cherryfeather Re: excuse me6th-Nov-2012 06:39 am (UTC)
hoot 6th-Nov-2012 02:47 am (UTC)
_______awshucks 6th-Nov-2012 02:49 am (UTC)
I always watch this movie when it's on
shelostcontro1 6th-Nov-2012 02:49 am (UTC)
tried to watch this movie when i was 10. lasted 5 minutes before i LOST MY MIND SOBBING. never going back tbh
hoot 6th-Nov-2012 02:49 am (UTC)
OH GOD BUT IT'S SO GOOD! And it does have a happy ending. :)
deceitful 6th-Nov-2012 03:13 am (UTC)
me during this entire movie
honey_child 6th-Nov-2012 03:22 am (UTC)
When her father remembers who she is, I cry like a fucking baby.
persephonne 6th-Nov-2012 03:43 am (UTC)
That movie is a travesty, it's got nothing to do with the book, which is flawless.
goofusgallant 6th-Nov-2012 03:44 am (UTC)
violue 6th-Nov-2012 04:06 am (UTC)
I love this movie sfm
goldenlockets 6th-Nov-2012 06:08 am (UTC)
heartxbroadcast 6th-Nov-2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
ugh i love this movie
twowaymirrrors 6th-Nov-2012 02:48 am (UTC)

masterofmystery 6th-Nov-2012 03:04 am (UTC)
dear god i hate this movie, and always get hated on by my entire fam when i say so. oh well
twowaymirrrors 6th-Nov-2012 03:31 am (UTC)
lol totally understandable. I loved it when I was younger but I haven't even been able to finish it the last few times I tried to watch it tbh.
shelostcontro1 6th-Nov-2012 02:48 am (UTC)
where da fuq is about 1048 scenes in Harry Potter tbh... mainly in the room of requirement
mhfromnh 6th-Nov-2012 04:22 am (UTC)
Neville in DH2.
spoiled_water 6th-Nov-2012 02:50 am (UTC)
violue 6th-Nov-2012 02:55 am (UTC)
lmao I love his :O .... at the end of her explanation
alleigh 6th-Nov-2012 02:56 am (UTC)
I love that movie
zoaster_toaster 6th-Nov-2012 03:00 am (UTC)
I love this scene so much and Ewan's total WTF face at the end.
masterofmystery 6th-Nov-2012 03:07 am (UTC)
the look on ewan's face to this day cracks me up. damn i loved this movie

and catcher was fine as hell
blue_birds 6th-Nov-2012 03:15 am (UTC)
lmao his expression is the best.
greenfairy_87 6th-Nov-2012 03:52 am (UTC)
I fucking love this movie.
scornedsaint 6th-Nov-2012 12:43 pm (UTC)
Between this and Bridget Jones, I could never hate Renee Zellweger.
thetxbelle 6th-Nov-2012 02:50 am (UTC)
What about in Norma Rae when Sally Field goes off and gives her speech? I guess technially it's not a speech since she just stands there with a sign but she addresses everyone and is taking a stand, idk it's pretty moving imo.

Edited at 2012-11-06 02:55 am (UTC)
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