Movies/Entertainment,  Quick 5/Top 10

G-S-T Quick 5 – Favorite Movie Monologues

One of my favorite elements in a film is a succesful (and memorable) monologue. When an actor can deliver a series of lines and carry the scene on the talent of that speech, it brings a certain weight to the movie. Many times in movies a monologue can consist of throw away lines or be a cheesy sequence all together, but I have assembled some of my favorites that are truly great below because they really are standout performances. They are impressive, dramatic and in a few cases stand the test of time but yet they all  exist on a level that showcases the actor’s true talents and is an example of how wonderfully imaginative lines can be without the aid of visuals, props, scenery and the like.

So here they are, my “Favorite Movie Monologues“…


1.) The Treasure of the Sierra MadreWalter Huston

Walter Houston won an Oscar in this film and for damn good reason. As the “prospector” he is very unassuming but as the movie plays out he shows how many varied but subtle layers are underneath that rough demeanor. I raved about this in a write up I did last year, but watching this clip makes me want to watch the movie again and real soon. Funny about this bit because it is not just a great monologue, it is also expository foreshadowing and I think that is missing from a lot of films today. Regardless, he just stole the movie. Lastly, I really apologize but those jerks atYouTube have disabled the embedded video for this clip. Still it’s worth going there to see it.


2.) 12 Angry MenLee J. Cobb

Most people you ask will tell you that Henry Fonda‘s performance was the best in this film. Yet, the more I watch this film (usually the night before I myself have Jury Duty) I discover more things about this monologue which make me think that Cobb is the real star of this film. His intensity, his control, and his range still stand up and stand out after all these years. This is a near perfect movie not only because of Cobb, but Fonda, Warden and the whole talented ensemble.


3.) Any Given Sunday – Al Pacino

I’ve been a fan of Al for years and to me his best roles to date are a dead tie between Carlito’s Way and (don’t laugh) Dick Tracy. Sure The Godfather was great but Al didn’t really shine in that movie when you have Brando, Caan and Shire to contend with.  Anyway, yes, he’s taken some terrible roles in the past decade but I still think he’s a powerhouse of acting talent and emotion. This monologue just gets me every time. In some way and kind of saddens me as I view it as his swan song since I have yet to see him do a film recently that really captures his spirit of old. But he’s Al right? What’s he got left to prove?


4.) Layer Cake – Daniel Craig

To be fair and frank with you all, this should be followed under the category of “narration” (which is constant in Matthew Vaughn productions). Now despite that, the lines in the opening sequence aren’t as dramatic as others on this list, yet they still have a presence and weight to them. As such I believe they could be spoken without all the music, cuts and imagery and Craig could be on screen and sell the lines even more so and they’d be equally impressive…I don’t know, but I just like it.

However if you purists out there want a “true” monologue – I think this perfect one from Michael Gambon in this segment fits the bill. Short but to the point and so bloody true to life.


5.) The Third ManOrson Welles

And last, the definitive series of monologues (in my opinion) delivered by the one and only Orson Welles from The Third Man. In this scene, he, on the ferris wheel, tries to rationalize his actions by removing himself from the emotional and physical closeness to the people he profits from. Simply stellar and though I’m not a huge fan of Welles, it’s tough to deny his talent and charisma, especially in this one scene. Ship to minute 3:45…Welles is astounding! And how can you not love the parting “Cuckoo Clock” monologue?


So that’s what I’ve got. What are some of your favorite monologues?


  • Barbara

    I can’t argue with your five, but would like to draw attention to a few of my favorites:

    Alec Baldwin, “Fuck you, that’s my name” monologue in “Glengarry Glen Ross”. It was written for him, and it’s hard to imagine anyone delivering it better. Sets the tone for the whole movie, IMHO.

    Robert Shaw’s ‘Indianapolis’ monologue in “Jaws”. Did he write it himself? Did John Milius write it? Either way, it’s spellbinding, as well as providing a crucial bit of foreshadowing with “I’ll never put on a lifejacket again”.

    Spencer Tracy’s final speech, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”. You could actually cite a number of Tracy monologues – his sentencing speech in “Judgment at Nuremburg” is wonderful, as are his courtroom speeches in “Inherit the Wind” – but these are the last words he ever put on film, and serve a dual purpose – driving home the true point of the film, and letting us know what his leading lady, the sublime Katharine Hepburn, meant to him.

    There are many others, but my mind just shorted out for a bit…

    • Marc

      Good call on Jaws! Funny enough I toyed with doing something from Glengarry but opted for Al in “Any Given Sunday” instead. Although, Al’s work in Glengarry was damn fine if you ask me.

      I haven’t see either “Dinner” or “Nuremburg” so I can’t relate:( Guess I need to get on some of these movies if I want to keep up you and your comments:P

  • Barbara

    Oh, God, yes, Pacino in “Glengarry!” The Chinese restaurant scene with Jonathan Pryce is remarkable. “There’s an absolute morality? Maybe. And then what? If you think there is, go ahead, be that thing. Bad people go to hell? I don’t think so. If you think that, act that way. A hell exists on earth? Yes. I won’t live in it. That’s me. ”

    Amazing performance of an extraordinary piece of material. Thanks for reminding me.