I re-watched Jaws yesterday, and once again was struck by the brilliance of Robert Shaw's delivery of Captain Quint's Indianapolis Soliloquy. "Eleven hundred men went into the water..." It is a defining moment, made even more remarkable for its human interest in a film whose star is a killer shark. Quint is no longer a caricature of Captain Ahab, all crust and color, but distilled to his human core. It is the best part of the movie, and if there were an Old Timer's Committee in the Academy of Motion Pictures like baseball has, Shaw would have had his Oscar for that performance.
This got me thinking about memorable monologues in other films, and which of these had the qualities of Quint's lines and Shaw's acting. Of course there are lines that people remember - iconic, even, like Dirty Harry saying "you gotta ask yourself, 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?" It is on some people's Top Ten Monologues List, but I don't believe it would make it on mine. On the other hand, I probably would include the Meg Ryan fake orgasm scene from "When Harry Met Sally." It's all in the delivery.
So rather than give you my complete list, let's build one together. Quint makes the list. What about the other nine?
More (July 23, 2008): Exceptional discussion in the comments, for which many thanks. It has prompted a subsequent post on monologues and which gender tends to get remembered for them. Feel free to confirm or refute as experience dictates.