10 Great Speeches From Movies

Tuesday, February 1 by Andrew Jett

These 10 great speeches from movies are defining moments in cinematic quality. From tongue-in-cheek observations of human behavior to motivational rallying cries, these great movie speeches all feature stellar writing and convincing deliveries.

  1. George C. Scott in “Patton” In 1970, the semi-historical tale of hard-ass General George S. Patton was released to theaters. The great speech from this movie occurs at the very beginning, with Scott speaking to his troops: “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.”
  2. Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men” Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson butt heads throughout this 1992 courtroom drama, but it’s Nicholson who gets the greatest lines in his speech at the movie’s climax. Beginning with the immortal “You can’t handle the truth,” the speech is the best thing about this movie.
  3. Michael Douglas in “Wall Street” When this movie speech hit theaters in 1987, moviegoers were introduced to Gordon Gekko, Michael Douglas’ signature character. Gekko was a corporate raider whose speech in the movie pretty much summed up the ‘80s when it began with “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”
  4. Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry” Perennial badass Clint Eastwood has had many great speeches from movies during his long career, but none more so than this 1971 entry. Eastwood plays a tough police inspector who foils a bank robbery. Afterward, during his speech, he tells the criminal: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk?”
  5. Samuel L. Jackson in “Pulp Fiction” As the coolest member of the ten great speeches from movies, this entry from the 1994 Tarantino masterpiece is nothing if not enlightening. Playing a hit man, Jackson paraphrases and ad-libs Ezekiel 25:17 each time he takes a life.
  6. Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” This 1997 star-making film turned Matt Damon into a household name. Damon’s poor-boy genius character’s best speech came when he explained the nature of a government job, ending with: “Why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected President.”
  7. Marlon Brando in “On The Waterfront” No one did movie speeches like the great Marlon Brando. His best-known speech came from this 1954 film about a down-and-out boxer. Contained in this speech, the line “I coulda been a contender” is one of his greatest movie legacies.
  8. Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca” As the most romantic entry on the list of ten great speeches from movies, this 1942 classic is the teary-eyed stuff of legend. The end of Bogart’s parting speech to Ingrid Bergman caused women across the world to swoon: “If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”
  9. Mel Gibson in “Braveheart” Released in 1995, this sprawling epic breathed new life into Gibson’s career. As William Wallace, a Scottish revolutionary in the 13th century, Gibson’s climactic speech rallied his troops for battle, then ended with the memorable line “They may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!”
  10. Jon Belushi in “Animal House” Not known for great speeches in his movies, the elder Belushi’s strengths were sight-gags and one-liners. Rallying his fra brothers at the climax of this 1978 movie, Belushi’s comedic yet motivational speech was way out of character, making it that much more effective.