The 10 Greatest Man Speeches in Movie History

Categories Lifestyle

Our selection of the most inspiring rally calls by cinematic chaps.


William Wallace (Mel Gibson) in ‘Braveheart’

Sticklers for historical accuracy mightn’t be fans of the 1995 epic, but the movie-going public certainly loved Mel Gibson — before he lost his marbles — rallying a crowd of angry Scots into battle against the English, and delivering perhaps the most iconic line uttered in modern cinema: “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom.”


President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) in ‘Independence Day’

If you thought William Wallace had a tough job getting the Scots up for a battle with the Poms, put yourself in President Whitmore’s shoes. Aliens had taken over Planet Earth before Pullman’s rousing address rallies his motley crew to fight back. Shame he didn’t run in the 2016 election . . .

John Keating (Robin Williams) in ‘Dead Poets Society’

The speech that launched a thousand dreadful ‘Carpe Diem’ tattoos, a free-spirited English teacher encourages his students to “seize the day” and break the mould in Williams’ finest serious role.

Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) in ‘On the Waterfront’

The greatest actor of the 20th Century produces one of his most sparkling performances in this 1954 film, as a washed-up boxer who heart-wrenchingly laments how “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum” in the back of a cab to his crooked brother whose interference crippled his fighting career.

Howard Beale (Peter Finch) in ‘Network’

Finch won the 1977 Best Actor Oscar for his performance as deranged news anchor Howard Beale in this brilliant satire of a struggling TV news station, which rings as true in today’s era of clickbait and Trumpian logic as it did 40 years ago. Finch’s unhinged rant against the state of society reaches its crescendo with the immortal line, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin) in ‘The Great Dictator’

Another satirical oration that echoes as loudly in 2016 as it did in 1940. “You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men!”

Alan Finger (Zach Galifianakis) in ‘The Hangover’

Delivered from a crumpled sheet of paper and with Galifianakis’ inimitable offbeat humour — “Hello, how ’bout that ride in?” — Alan’s speech kicks off the 2009 comedy with 60 seconds of side-splitting awkwardness.

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’

Blokes’ least-imaginative response to the question “What’s your favourite film?” since 1994, Shawshank’s most tender moment comes when Andy convinces Red there’s life outside prison walls with his “Get busy living or get busy dying” monologue, hatching a plan to meet up in — whisper it — Zihuatanejo.

Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) in ‘Any Given Sunday’

For every hundred awful sports speeches on the silver screen — think Matt Damon imploring his Springboks to “start scrumming” in lukewarm rugby flick ‘Invictus’ —  there’s one that shines above the pack, and that’s Pacino’s pre-game address in this star-studded gridiron classic. If you’re not itching to lace up the boots after this rev-up, check your pulse.

Yul Brunner (Malik Yoba) in ‘Cool Runnings’

The next time you drop your chin, just channel the Jamaican bobsled team — “I see pride! I see power! I see a bad-ass mother who don’t take no crap off of nobody!”