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What Would People Think?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Greatest Movie Speech

In a world of tragedy and heroism, of men of power losing control, there's lots of deeply serious things I could say. As I look at my friends and fellow bloggers, they offer defiance, deep thoughts on religion, celebration, and good headshots. All inspirational blogs that raise the bar for an increasing blog slacker such as myself.

So, naturally, it's important that I talk about movies. My topic for today is movie speeches/monologues.

This time, I'd like to offer my opinion on what is the greatest movie speech of all time.....in my opinion.....at the moment.....until I change my mind or remember something better or see something better or just get fickle. (Problem with being a lawyer is your language is filled with caveats....for the most part.)

There ain't nothing like a good movie speech to give me that joyful feeling inside. A speech can make you stand up and cheer, or it might perfectly encapsulate some memorable character....or maybe, if you love it, it says something about you. I dunno.

Anyways enough of my rambling, here's my favorite speech: Marge Gunderson, the pregnant cop from Fargo, has just captured the cold-blooded murderer, Gaear Grimsrud. She's driving into town with him cuffed in the back seat. And she says....

So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money .There's more to life than money, you know. . . . Don't you know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. Well, I just don't understand it.

In a movie (and a world) full of greed, violence, stupidity, and deceit, Marge Gunderson is a beacon of virtue, love, intelligence, and determination. She is everything most Coen Brothers characters (including just about every other character in that movie) are not. And after all these desperate, violent characters are scrambling for money, she - the pregnant woman, the most unlikely of heroes - captures the killer and then gives this speech putting things in proper perspective. What I love most about this speech and this character is that she can't even understand the mindset of these criminals. It's not that she's stupid or naive. She was smart enough to tear down every smoke screen thrown up by Jerry Lundegaard and to methodically track down the killers. She knows her police work. But she's so far removed from the criminals' twisted values, so full of love and goodness, that she can't comprehend why they would do such things. She values things like love and family far more than the riches so many of us vainly scramble after.

And she's right. If I were a movie character, I'd far rather be Norm Gunderson, with a wife like Marge, than James Bond.

So, what about you? What is your favorite movie speech? I know comments aren't usually a good medium for quoting speeches verbatim, so feel free to respond on your own blog, in the comments of this blog, whatever.

If you're having trouble thinking of a good speech, or simply want to review some of the best before you decide, Tim Dirks Greatest Films site is - as always - an invaluable resource. Even with the annoying pop-ups. Here's his section on Best speeches.


  • Ben!

    I don't have a favorite movie speech (although back during Dean days, people used to quote some speech from Bull Durham and I remember digging it...). I'm just psyched to have found you!

    So, I'm on a mission (different kind) and would love to pick your brain. Email me (at my Traction address) at your earliest convenience, will ya?

    Much love to you, my friend. And congrats on your one-year anniversary! (How could I not know that you were getting married? How could you not tell me?)

    By Anonymous Lanya Shapiro, at 8/31/2007 10:37 PM  

  • If you love movie speeches, you'll love the Atlas Shrugged adaptation ;)

    For me, I'll choose Hannibal's "You look like a rube" speech from Silence of the Lambs. I haven't actually seen the movie though, so it's possible it's not nearly as cool a scene as I think it is.

    By Anonymous Jacob, at 8/31/2007 11:01 PM  

  • Without question, Terrence Mann's (James Earl Jones) speech at the end of Field of Dreams.

    I know you're not a big baseball fan, but watch this movie, listen to the speech, and you might just change your mind.

    "People will come Ray. People will most definitely come."

    By Blogger Matthew B. Novak, at 9/01/2007 4:07 AM  

  • Ben, your choice of speech has changed since your response to my post on greatest movie monologues. However, I like your new choice better. While Welles' speech in "The Third Man" is great, I like Marge's speech because of the way it juxtaposes with the rest of the movie, and how oddly non-Coen it feels. It's beautiful in it's simplicity.

    But as for myself, I think ultimately I'd have to go with Silent Bob's Amy story in "Chasing Amy", largely because to an extent I can relate, and I think it really captures a lot of the complexities of modern relationships.

    James Earl Jones' speech in "Field of Dreams" (oft cited by yours truly) and Kevin Costner's speech at the end of "Bull Durham" are high quality too.

    Jacob, two questions: 1) how in the hell have you not seen "Silence"? and 2) are they actually going to include Galt's speech in "Atlas"? It would likely take up the whole running time by itself.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/01/2007 9:56 AM  

  • There are a lot of them, but I think I'll go with Schindler's farewell from "Schindler's List."

    By Blogger Jeff, at 9/04/2007 2:11 PM  

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