Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Talkback: Great speeches

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw some conversations I had this weekend with screenwriter F. Scott Frazier about great dialogue scenes.  Well, we got a lot of great submissions, but it also sparked a sideline debate about if monologue scenes should count as dialogue scenes.

So why not use today's thread to list some of our favorite monologues and speeches?  I've posted this next scene on Twitter a few times, but it's one of my all-time favorite speech scenes.  This is from Other People's Money, written by Alvin Sargent, adapted from a play by Jerry Sterner.

I first saw this movie when I was 12 or so.  I admit, the more inside details of the plot - centered on Danny Devito's "Larry the Liquidator" mounting a hostile take over of a factory run by Gregory Peck's Gorgy - were kind of lost on me.  But what wasn't lost on me was the brilliance of the climactic scene.  I can't possibly explain it better than Roger Ebert does in his review:

"The takeover bid climaxes in a shareholder's meeting inside the factory, at which both Jorgy and Larry make speeches. Gregory Peck's words and delivery here reminded me of the key scenes in a lot of the Frank Capra classics, where the little guy stood up and defended old-fashioned American values, and got a standing ovation, and the movie was over. In "Other People's Money," after Peck sits down, DeVito stands up, and defends greed. It is amazing how good an argument he makes."

I know this is a long clip, but it's really, really smart writing. Take 12 minutes out of your day and take in these monologues.

What are some of your favorite speeches and monologues?


  1. How could you beat this monologue - which earned writer Steven Moffat a 2011 Hugo Award:


  2. I'm so glad you posted this clip. I remember watching this movie ages ago and saying to myself, "What could Danny DeVito possibly say to rebut that?" Then he nails it and I was like, "Holy shit. That's excellent writing and acting."

  3. Pick almost any monologue in Chayefsky's "network". Brilliant stuff.