There are certain movie speeches we all remember. Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Bill Murray in Meatballs. Bill Murray in Stripes. Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. Bill Pullman in Independence Day. But how many great speeches have we forgotten, what made them so great, and why did we ever allow that to happen?
“Prostitution” — Bill Blazejowski in Night Shift
People can praise Michael Keaton’s performance in Birdman, and geek out over Batman and Beetlejuice all they want, but my vote for Keaton’s best performance will forever be this moment where he attempts to win over a room full of prostitutes and utterly fails.
“You lose!” — Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
It was so heartbreaking to watch the above scene as a child, but you know what? Wonka’s right! Follow the rules, you signed the contract, your failure is on you Charlie. Quit your moping. Good day, sir.
“The Walrus and the Carpenter” — Loki in Dogma
Dogma definitely deserves a lot more praise than it has gotten in comparison to Kevin Smith’s other works. In this fantastic opening scene, Kevin Smith introduces us to not just the central theme but also the antagonists and the scope of the world the film will follow. The amount of biblical knowledge in this script is insane, and is a must-watch for screenwriters.
“Merry Christmas, Everyone” — Frank Cross in Scrooged
Clearly I have a love of Bill Murray, and now that he is rising above his mythos, and acting more than ever, everyone else appears to be remembering their love of Murray as well. Somehow this speech seems forgotten from his catalogue. If there is a performance earlier in Murray’s career that shows his well-rounded acting abilities, it is this film. Let’s also make sure we thank Mitch Glazer and Michael O’Donoghue for creating one of the best reimaginings of the classic story while simultaneously blasting television decision makers.
“Who Cares About This Stupid Election” —Tammy Metzger in Election
For a gender that is forever credited with talking too much and over one another, it seems crazy how hard it was to find a great forgotten speech made by a female for this list! Sure, there are plenty of great female speeches (Annie Savoy's in Bull Durham, Sally Albright's in When Harry Met Sally, etc.) but they were all just too damn memorable. That being said, Jessica Campbell’s portrayal of alt-rebel Tammy Metzger in Election is a classic. Reese Witherspoon’s performance overshadowed Campbell’s, and deservedly so, but we should not forget Tammy as the voice of reason in an over-the-top high school election. She channeled the awkwardness and apathy of the typical teenager to perfection.
“Why did you do it?” — Conrad in Ordinary People
1980 was a big year for movies and it has become infamous as “the year Martin Scorsese should have won” for Raging Bull. The movie Scorsese lost to was Robert Redford’s Ordinary People, depicting a family falling apart after the loss of a son. It placed girl-next-door Mary Tyler Moore front and center as a cold woman, struggling to love her son, Conrad, played by Timothy Hutton. In this scene, Conrad is on a date played by Elizabeth McGovern, when she asks him why he attempted suicide. Conrad gives an incredibly honest explanation of a topic that was considerably taboo at the time.
Well that got serious. Let’s end on a high note...
“Ducks fly together!” — Gordon Bombay in D2: The Mighty Ducks
D2 is far and away the best of The Mighty Ducks trilogy. We had all the fun of the original film, plus the addition of Julie “The Cat” Gaffney, an amazing reason for Americans to hate on Iceland in the form of Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson, and of course a campy Rodeo Drive shopping montage. On top of this, Gordon Bombay gives three different inspirational speeches to the team. The first came when he had to convince them he was no longer his evil, Icelandic-inspired alter ego, the second when he reiterated the previous speech’s sentiment by setting a cardboard cutout of himself on fire, and finally he spoke at length again to rev the team for the final showdown. The final climactic speech is the strongest, perfectly exemplifying the classic sports movie speech.
Emily Jermusyk is a screenwriter and story consultant. She got her start in high school writing over 150 episodes of a soap opera parodying Knots Landing. If desired, Emily will talk to you at potentially-annoying-length about topics such as why the CW is her favorite channel, the current amazing state of underground comedy, and how she avoids TV/films about zombies because most of them do not chew with their mouths closed. Follow Emily on Twitter, and check out her website, Ruining Television.