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Best Monologues (in TV or movies)

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Kylee Peña
Best Monologues (in TV or movies)
on Nov 17, 2013 at 4:10:18 am

So I'm working backstage with a community theater who is putting on a Christmas show that's...very interesting. The script has an oddly high number of monologues and soliloquies and today I spaced out during one of them and started thinking about awesome, effective monologues and sililoquys. Characters owning the screen alone for a minute or ten, writing so good it makes me puke, that kinda stuff.

One of my favorites from film is probably Samuel L Jackson's Ezekiel 25:17 monologue in Pulp Fiction. It comes so early in the film, you know exactly what to expect after that, tone-wise. And also it's awesome and you can't even argue with that.

In TV, probably my favorite ever is from the Cigarette Smoking Man in the X-Files episode "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man." You spend an hour getting to know this mystery character for the first time, discover he has dreams, see his dreams get shattered, and feel really bad.

X-Files in general has a lot of really great monologues by the characters, especially in the episode cold open. During a recent re-watch, it occurred to me that these don't really seem to be diegetic...unless it could be the thoughts of the character..but...SCULLY WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?

Another - Bartlet's conversation with god at the end of season 2 of The West Wing, "Two Cathedrals". Been a rough couple of years for the administration, with the shooting and the president's MS becoming public information and then the extremely untimely death of Bartlet's longtime friend and executive assistant. He's super pissed and yells at god in latin like an effing BOSS.

The season one finale of Mad Men had what is probably considered the best monologue in the show when Don Draper pitches The Carousel to Kodak. But my favorite monologue comes from Sal in season three. Sterling Cooper has been working on recreating Ann Margret's Bye Bye Birdie with a different actress in a soft drink ad campaign. Sal acts out what they've been working on for his wife. The contrast of his passionate performance with her slow realization that her husband is gay is one of my favorite scenes on TV ever.

And Breaking Bad, the "I am the one who knocks" speech. Changes everything about the character dynamics. And it's just a great performance.

I feel like there should be one from Battlestar Galactica, but I can't think of it.

Anyway, after typing this, I've realized I love the TV ones a lot more than the film ones because I felt like the characters truly earned them in the story. It means a lot more to have followed Sal for three seasons and finally see the resolution, or to be able to spend an entire hour getting to know Bartlet's executive assistant AFTER she's already died.

twitter: @kyl33t

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Mike Cohen
Re: Best Monologues (in TV or movies)
on Nov 18, 2013 at 1:25:04 am

One of my favorite is Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life. He confronts Potter to defend his father but it falls on deaf ears:

Aside from that, some quick searching on U-Toob revealed these:

Good Will Hunting


A Few Good Men

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Kylee Peña
Re: Best Monologues (in TV or movies)
on Nov 18, 2013 at 1:40:53 am

Oh yeah. Jaws pretty much wins as far as films go. Jaws forever.

twitter: @kyl33t

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Jeff Breuer
Re: Best Monologues (in TV or movies)
on Nov 18, 2013 at 3:57:15 pm

Great idea Kylee and great additions Mike. It's A Wonderful Life and A Few Good Men are a couple of my favorites.

Love Actually - Hugh Grant's Speech to America

Midnight in Paris - Hemmingway

Annie Hall - Opening

(Actually a lot of Woody Allen could be on this list)

The Great Dictator - Just replace "Radio" with "Internet"

Gelngary Glen Ross - Always Be Closing (Brass Balls)
Years ago I made a video where I recreated this scene where I played the Baldwin character and put a baby in the place of the sales staff.


Dirty Harry - "I know what you are thinking"

Casablanca - Hill of Beans

The Naked Gun - End Monologue, Hill of Beans

Independence Day - Ra-Ra-Ra Let's All Kill The Aliens!

Braveheart - "Freedom, You've gotta give for what you take"

To Kill a Mockingbird -

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington - What the grown ups have done with the country

Dark Knight - Scars

Downfall - The base of parody
This clip is ripped for parody often, but for good reason. Damn good scene in a damn good movie.

You could easily put a lot of Allen, Tarentino, Smith and even some Anderson. I could also put half of the movie Lincoln here.

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Tim Wilson
Re: Best Monologues (in TV or movies)
on Nov 18, 2013 at 6:04:38 pm

Quint's speech in Jaws is the climax of the movie: everything leads up to it, and every event after it is inevitable.

That speech wasn't in the book, and neither is Tom Joad's monologue in Grapes of Wrath, which I think is my all-time favorite.

So many great ones here that I may have missed somebody listing this, Al Pacino's epic 4:30 speech from On Any Sunday. I really don't like football self-mythologizing, but this is pretty special.

Not quite a monologue, but this speech from the first episode of The Sopranos is insane. The long stretches of silence, his attempt to divert his own attention from himself: amazing. It sets up Tony as Everyman -- he hates his life, and hates himself for needing help, and, worse, asking for help. He hates himself for the kind of man he might become by accepting help and getting better.

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Jeff Breuer
Re: Best Monologues (in TV or movies)
on Nov 18, 2013 at 9:27:51 pm

Oh yes, TV was a part of the assignment too!

Parks & Rec - Star Wars Filibuster
Lest we forget this new instant classic.

The Office - Dwight's Inspired Speech

Star Trek - The Original Intro

Simpsons - Any of about 100 of Homer's monologues in seasons 3-9

Muppets - This might not count, but it's great comedy

Muppets - Pitch
Technically this shouldn't count because it was never on TV, but this was a part of the pitch to sell the show. And it's brilliant. No way to turn this pitch down, but apparently there was.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Best Monologues (in TV or movies)
on Nov 18, 2013 at 10:26:02 pm

Rutger Haur in Blade Runner":
"I've seen things".

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Scott Roberts
Re: Best Monologues (in TV or movies)
on Nov 19, 2013 at 3:27:35 pm
Last Edited By Scott Roberts on Nov 19, 2013 at 3:34:34 pm

I shouldn't have gotten into this so late in the game! Jeff you stole my number one choice, Glengarry Glen Ross. I've only seen that entire movie all the way through once, but I've watched that Alec Baldwin scene about 50 times. ABC.

Jaws is also one of my favorites, and Homer Simpson has given some tremendous (yet stupid) monologues in the 90s.

Here's a couple more that I like that haven't been said yet. First film:

Do the Right Thing - Because Radio Raheem is a terrifying person.

The Silence of the Lambs - Because Hannibal Lecter is a terrifying person.

The Shining - Because Jack Torrence is a terrifying person. Though I don't know if this just falls into conversation territory.

Fight Club - The first rule of fight club is...

There Will be Blood - "Milkshake" scene.

Shawshank Redemption - This is just some good Morgan Freeman right here.

The Matrix - Agent Smith is deeper than we think...

And now TV:

Freaks and Geeks - Some nice early Franco stuff here, and a funny ending if you've seen the whole episode.

Always Sunny in Philadelphia - In my opinion one of the best frantically insane TV comedy monologues of all time.

Seinfeld - Marine Biologist. An absolute classic.

The Wire - I feel like something should be included from The Wire.

And just for one more really quick Simpsons one:

Well... DUH.

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Tom Sefton
Re: Best Monologues (in TV or movies)
on Nov 19, 2013 at 10:56:29 pm

That Al Pacino "inches" monologue is great.

I'd go for the Christopher Walken "watch" monologue in Pulp Fiction,

Morgan Freeman "to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit" in Shawshank,

This from Dead Man's Shoes - go to 2.27 - strong language, not too long and Paddy Considine being very, very threatening.

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Kylee Peña
Re: Best Monologues (in TV or movies)
on Nov 20, 2013 at 1:22:54 am

I never feel more American than when I watch that speech in Independence Day.

twitter: @kyl33t

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