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The 12 most deliciously-deranged movie monologues


A dozen of the most spellbinding and unsettling cinematic speeches ever...

Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws

Let us all give a tip of the hat to the movie monologue - that venerated, but crafty, seductress of screenwriting. Done badly, the monologue can be a crushing and laughable blow to a film, a ruinous bore of a scene that can completely take the viewer 'out of the movie', as they say. But done properly, a monologue can be a tour de force of character development, character motive, and an enthralling and captivating spot that goes down in film history. Monologues are penciled into movies for a number of reasons - a passionate plea for justice (Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird), a rousing call to action (George Patton in Patton), or a wild-eyed act of comic lunacy ('Bluto' Blutarsky in Animal House). But perhaps the most mesmerizing form of cinematic soliloquy is that of the ominous kind. The 'creepy' speech, the unnerving harangue, can be a great film's greatest moment. Here now are 12 examples of the most wonderfully-demented monologues, both low-key and otherwise, in cinema.


12. Monty Brogan - 25th Hour

Monty Brogan isn't having a good day. After being ratted out to the police for his drug dealing activities, Brogan spends the events of 25th Hour trying to enjoy his last day as a free man before a seven-year prison sentence. All of his frustration, fear, and guilt comes to a head via a vitriolic rant with his reflection in a bathroom mirror, where Brogan unleashes an obscenity-laced tirade against anyone and everyone under the sun. Eventually, Brogan reserves the last f-bomb for himself, as he comes to admit that he, and he alone, was really responsible for ruining his life.

Greatest Line: "No. No, fuck you, Montgomery Brogan. You had it all and you threw it away, you dumb fuck..."

11. HAL-9000 - 2001: A Space Odyssey

After HAL-9000 suffers an emotional breakdown when its supposed infallibility is disproven after a false equipment malfunction warning, the supercomputer begins killing off its astronaut crew. The last surviving crew member, David Bowman, floats into HAL's memory core and begins disabling it, all the while being pleaded with by HAL's disturbingly-monotonous computer voice. The scene plays as a monologue, as Bowman does not respond to HAL's soothing entreaties for a truce, and it is undoubtedly creepy, especially when 'Dave' begins removing HAL's memory inputs and the computer begins to regress in maturity and 'humanness' before our very eyes.

Greatest Line: "Stop, Dave. I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going."

10. Joan Crawford - Mommie Dearest

An autobiographical take on Joan Crawford's life from the point of view of adopted daughter Christina, Mommie Dearest is primarily known for Faye Dunaway's over-the-top portrayal of the prominent Hollywood actress. Infamously playing Crawford as a bug-eyed font of insanity, Dunaway's coup de grace is her vein-popping tirade against Christina for committing the sin of hanging a dress on a *gasp* wire hanger. Alternately shouting, growling, and shaking, Crawford beats her daughter with the offending hanger and trashes the room in a whirling dervish of crazy.

Greatest Line: "No wire hangers! What's wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you no wire hangers?!? EVER!!!"

9. Hannibal Lecter - The Silence of the Lambs

A skin-slicing killer is on the loose and Agent Clarice Starling needs help from imprisoned cannibal killer/cultured doctor Hannibal Lecter to find him. Problem is that Lecter has no inclination to help Agent Starling with her mission and lets it be known on their first encounter. With dripping disdain, Hannibal mocks Clarice on her upbringing, her adolescence, her accent, and her wardrobe, all while cruelly smirking. The scene sets the stage for a battle of wills between the rookie FBI agent and maniacal murderer, as Starling's intellectual prowess slowly earns her Lecter's respect as an equal.

Greatest Line: "You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well-scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste."

8. Bill the Butcher - Gangs of New York

Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting is the undisputed king of New York's Five Points district in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. The leader of the 'Nativists', a rabidly anti-foreigner gang, Cutting rules the region with an iron fist, its inhabitants perpetually terrified of Cutting's towering figure. With his ever-present top hat and a false eye engraved with a metal eagle, the Butcher rose to the top by killing his only real rival, Priest Vallon, years earlier. Now, Priest's son Amsterdam has come looking for revenge but, ironically, ends up in Cutting's inner circle, even saving his life on one occasion. It is after this deed that Amsterdam wakes up the next morning to find Cutting watching him sleep, draped in an American flag. Unaware of Amsterdam's lineage, Bill speaks of his rule of the Five Points through fear and of his admiration for the late Priest Vallon, all while the late Priest's son struggles to control his anger.

Greatest line: "Someone steals from me, I cut off his hands. He offends me, I cut out his tongue. He rises against me, I cut off his head and stick it on a pike. Hold it high in the streets so all can see. That's what preserves the order of things."

7. Eleanor Iselin - The Manchurian Candidate

Raymond Shaw is part of an American platoon captured by Soviet forces during the Korean War. The platoon ultimately makes it way back to America and Shaw is awarded the Medal of Honor for saving his fellow soldiers' lives during a daring rescue, but that version of events is a lie. The platoon was actually brainwashed by the Soviets and Shaw implanted with hypnotic suggestion in order to assassinate a United States Presidential candidate. And one of the architects of the entire affair is Shaw's own mother, Eleanor Iselin. Played by Angela Lansbury with shockingly-cold efficiency, Iselin dominates this scene while matter-of-factly explaining to her son how he will kill his target.

Greatest line: "There's a spotlight booth that won't be in use. It's up under the roof on the Eighth Avenue side of the Garden. You will have absolutely clear, protected shooting. You are to shoot the presidential nominee through the head."



#1 Mad Props Nate 2011-03-10 04:10
Mad props for the Mommie Dearest reference. That movie is just a classic, and always good for a laugh, and a maniacal mind ***** at some points
#2 Great list but... Chris Morgan 2011-03-10 04:26
No Roy Batty?
#3 Thanks, guys... Gabriel_Ruzin 2011-03-10 05:10
HAD to include Mommie Dearest. The only reason I didn't put in Roy Batty, Chris, was because I kind of narrowed the list down to 'deranged' or 'ominous' monologues and Roy's wasn't really of that stripe. If I was doing just a general monologue list, he definitely would have been in there. :)
#4 RE: The 12 most deliciously-deranged movie monologues Kevin Klawitter 2011-03-10 05:42
It's not really "deranged" (some might call it paranoic) but one of my favorite movie monologues is Donald Sutherland's 15-minute rant about how the Military-Industrial Complex assassinated President Kennedy in Oliver Stone's "JFK":
#5 RE: The 12 most deliciously-deranged movie monologues Chris Morgan 2011-03-10 13:38
Gabe, fair comment :)
#6 RE: The 12 most deliciously-deranged movie monologues Justin Buell 2011-03-10 23:06
What the hell? No Pulp Fiction!?

Ezekiel 25:17?
#7 Re: Justin Gabriel_Ruzin 2011-03-10 23:41
Quoting Justin Buell:
What the hell? No Pulp Fiction!?

Ezekiel 25:17?

I seriously considered it, but the fact that he says it a few times over the course of the film really watered it down for me. Definitely a great moment the first time he says it, but it didn't make my top 12.

Doesn't mean I'm right, though. hehe ... Just my opinion. :)
#8 screenwriting / hero's journey Rachel 2011-03-15 16:17
The Jaws monologue is GREAT. "Let us all give a tip of the hat to the movie monologue - that venerated, but crafty, seductress of screenwriting....." See Kal Bashir's screenwriting / hero's journey work at
#9 RE: The 12 most deliciously-deranged movie monologues Dustin 2011-06-08 19:52
This is a pretty good and comprehensive list, but it is missing the most chilling, messed up, nerve-grinding monologue ever dictated in the history of film. I am speaking, of course, of Jason Patric's shower monolgoue is Neil Labute's, Your Friends and Neighbors. Of course there are several monologues from Labute movies that could have made this list. Rachel Weisz's montrous art speech from The Shape of Things, and any of Aaron Eckhart's vomit-inducing monlogues from In The Company of Men come to mind. When it comes to monologues (other than the #2 author David Mamet) Neil Labute is second to none.
#10 Notable exceptions Simon 2013-01-18 03:56
Clifford Worley (The Scicilian Scene) Did you forget about this? I my mind possibly the single greatest monologue in moviedom.
#11 actor randygould 2013-04-24 04:05
great selections but there is one problem.half of the videos dont work.
#12 RE: The 12 most deliciously-deranged movie monologues Bob 2014-01-18 05:30
Opening monologue of "Patton". George C. Scott nails it

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