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July 21, 2008

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cyntax

You're theory about film is basically sound I think, in that men get the lion share of monologues. Stage is much more inclined to give women strong parts and thus good monologues. Film adaptations of Shakespeare are a good place to look, and though those parts were originally written for young men, the material is there for women now. Also consider the classics like Euripides' Medea.

Finally let me leave you with Elizabeth Taylor (playing opposite Richard Burton) from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf:


"You know what's happened, George? You want to know what's really happened? It's snapped, finally. Not me ... it. The whole arrangement. You can go along... forever, and everything's... manageable. You make all sorts of excuses to yourself... you know... this is life... the hell with it... maybe tomorrow he'll be dead... maybe tomorrow you'll be dead... all sorts of excuses. But then, one day, one night, something happens... and SNAP! It breaks. And you just don't give a damn anymore. I've tried with you, baby... really, I've tried.
I'm loud, and I'm vulgar, and I wear the pants in this house because somebody's got to, but I am not a monster. I am not.

SNAP! It went snap. Look, I'm not going to try to get through to you anymore... I'm not going to try. There was a second back there, maybe, there was a second, just a second, when I could have gotten through to you, when maybe we could have cut through all this crap. But that's past, and now I'm not going to try.

Well, maybe you're right, baby. You can't come together with nothing, and you're nothing! SNAP! I looked at you tonight and you weren't there. SNAP! And I'm going to howl it out, and I'm not going to give a damn what I do, and I'm going to make the biggest damned explosion you ever heard."

Karmakin

Does a narration count as a monologue?

Because if it does, I'd for sure nominate Uma Thurman's The Bridge in the Kill Bill movies.

"They made one mistake....they shoulda killed 10"

Tim Abbott

Thomas, thank you! Suspicion confirmed that I don't know what I don't watch. My wife recalled the Poltergeist speech, when I was exploring this subject with her yesterday, and Kate Hepburn's Eleanor of Aquitaine is a grave omission on my part and a tour de force.

The support for my theory is highly subjective, yet I still believe that how film is marketed, especially today, determines who gets the big speech and who delivers it and that more often than not, it goes to a man. Many of your excellent examples are from earlier generations of actors and films, which seems to suggest that monologues are not the sole province of men but are - especially now - largely written for them and the desired movie going demographic.

Thomas MacEntee

Well since you've "thrown down" on the subject of female movie monologues, see my list below. First, my thoughts on the topic:

- I think the fact the most memorable move monologues are delivered by men suggests that stronger parts have always been written for men. This is much more true today, especially in a time when a 35 year old actress is considered a "has been" and ready for her dirt nap.

- That given, your list probably has quite a bit to do with your movie list and the genres. While I detest the term "chick flick" there have always been movies more oriented towards women which spoke directly to them and most likely went over the heads of men. In more modern times, it appears that there is a genre of women's movies that are marketed in that manner.

My list:

The Lion In Winter, Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine:
"Of course he has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183 and we're barbarians. How clear we make it. Oh, my piglets, we're the origins of war. Not history's forces nor the times nor justice nor the lack of it nor causes nor religions nor ideas nor kinds of government nor any other thing! We are the killers; we breed war. We carry it, lke syphilis, inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten. For the love of God, can't we love each other just a little? That's how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children; we could change the world."

Mommie Dearest, Faye Dunaway in a career-ruining depiction as Joan Crawford:
"No wire hangers! What's wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you no wire hangers?! EVER!!!! I work till I'm half dead and I hear people say she's getting old! What do I get ? A daughter who cares as much about a beautiful dress I give her as she cares about me. What's wire hangers doing in this closet?! Answer me! I buy you beautiful dresses and you treat 'em like some dishrag! You threw a 300 dollar dress on a wire hanger! We'll see how many you got hidden in here, we'll see! All of this is coming out! Out! Out! Out! Out! We're gonna see how many wire hangers you got in your closet! Wire hangers. Why? Why? Christina, get out of that bed! Get out of that bed!"

The Out of Towners, Sandy Dennis as Nancy Clark:
"Give you a break? Give you a break? HEY! Let me share something with you. In the last 24 hours I've been, rerouted, mugged, evicted, chased by a dog, kidnapped, chased by a horse, and seen in a compromising position by the mayor. I just found out that my daughter is spending us into the poor house and that my husband has no job. I'm angry! I'm tired! And I'm HUNGRY! And I'm running with the wolves! And right now I am one crazy bitch from Ohio so why don't you give me a break?"

Poltergeist, Zelda Rubenstein as Tangina:
"Yes, I promise, please... Tangina: Will you all come on in? Gather round. There is no death. There is only a transition to a different sphere of consciousness. Carol Anne is not like those she's with. She is a living presence in their spiritual earthbound plain. They are attracted to the one thing about her that is different from themselves - her lifeforce. It is very strong. It gives off its own illumination. It is a light that implies life and memory of love and home and earthly pleasures, something they desperately desire but can't have anymore. Right now, she's the closest thing to that, and that is a terrible distraction from the real LIGHT that has finally come for them. You understand me? These souls, who for whatever reason are not at rest, are also not aware that they have passed on. They're not part of consciousness as we know it. They linger in a perpetual dreamstate, a nightmare from which they can not awake. Inside the spectral light is salvation, a window to the next plain. They must pass through this membrane where friends are waiting to guide them to new destinies. Carol Anne must help them cross over, and she will only hear her mother's voice. Now hold on to yourselves. There's one more thing. A terrible presence is in there with her. So much rage, so much betrayal, I've never sensed anything like it. I don't know what hovers over this house, but it was strong enough to punch a hole into this world and take your daughter away from you. It keeps Carol Anne very close to it and away from the spectral light. It LIES to her, it tells her things only a child could understand. It has been using her to restrain the others. To her, it simply IS another child. To us, it is the BEAST. Now, let's go get your daughter."

Rebecca, Joan Fontaine as Rebecca:
"Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter for the way was barred to me. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden, the supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done. But as I advanced, I was aware that a change had come upon it. Nature had come into her own again, and little by little had encroached upon the drive with long tenacious fingers, on and on while the poor thread that had once been our drive. And finally, there was Manderley. Manderley, secretive and silent. Time could not mar the perfect symmetry of those walls. Moonlight can play odd tricks upon the fancy, and suddenly it seemed to me that light came from the windows. And then a cloud came upon the moon and hovered an instant like a dark hand before a face. The illusion went with it. I looked upon a desolate shell, with no whisper of a past about its staring walls. We can never go back to Manderley again. That much is certain. But sometimes, in my dreams, I do go back to the strange days of my life which began for me in the south of France..."

West Side Story, Natalie Wood as Maria:
"How do you fire this gun Chino? By pulling this little trigger!? How many bullets are left Chino? Enough for YOU? Or YOU? All of you!! You ALL killed him! And my brother! And Riff! Not with bullets and knives! With HATE! Well, I can kill now too, because now I have hate!!! How many can I kill Chino? How many -- and still have one bullet left for me? Don't touch him!! Te adoro Anton."

All About Eve, Bette Davis as Margo Channing:
" Funny business, a woman's career -- the things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you'll need them again when you get back to being a woman. That's one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we've got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we've had or wanted. And in the last analysis, nothing's any good unless you can look up just before dinner or turn around in bed, and there he is. Without that, you're not a woman. You're something with a French provincial office or a book full of clippings, but you're not a woman. Slow curtain, the end. "

Network, Beatrice Straight as Louise Schumacher - (one of the shortest screen appearances which garnered an Oscar):
"Get out, go anywhere you want, go to a hotel, go live with her, and don't come back! Because, after 25 years of building a home and raising a family and all the senseless pain that we have inflicted on each other, I'm damned if I'm going to stand here and have you tell me you're in love with somebody else! Because this isn't a convention weekend with your secretary, is it? Or -- or some broad that you picked up after three belts of booze. This is your great winter romance, isn't it? Your last roar of passion before you settle into your emeritus years. Is that what's left for me? Is that my share? She gets the winter passion, and I get the dotage? What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to sit at home knitting and purling while you slink back like some penitent drunk? I'm your wife, damn it! And, if you can't work up a winter passion for me, the least I require is respect and allegiance! (sobbing) I hurt! Don't you understand that? I hurt badly!"

The Bad Seed, Eileen Heckart as Hortense Daigle, mother of the little boy that Rhoda Penmark has killed:
"Thanks. I’m Mrs Daigle. You didn’t have to let me in, you know. I’m a little drunk. I guess you never get a little drunk. Now, you, Mrs. Penmark. You’ve always had plenty. You’re a superior person. Oh yes, your father was rich. Rich Richard Bravo. I know. Me, I worked in a beauty parlor. Miss Fern used to come there. She looks down on me. I was that frumpy blonde. Now I’ve lost my boy and I’m a lush. Everybody knows it. But I know what I’m about just the same. Just the same. May I call you Christine? I’m quite aware that you come from a higher level of society. You prolly made a debut and all that. I always considered Christine such a genteel name. Hortense sounds flat—that’s me, Hortense. "My girl, Hortense," that’s what hey used to sing at me, "hasn’t got much sense. Let’s write her name on the privy fence." Children can be nasty, don’t you think? You’re so attractive Christine. You have such exquisite taste in clothes, but of course you have amples of money to buy ‘em with. What I came to see you about, I asked Miss Fern how did Claude happen to lose the medal, and she wouldn’t tell me a thing. You know more than you’re telling. You’re a sly one—because of the school. You don’t want the school to get a bad name. But you know more than you’re telling, Miss Butter-Wouldn’t-Melt Fern. There’s something funny about the whole thing. I’ve said so over and over to Mr. Daigle. Rest. Sleep. When you can’t sleep at night, you can’t sleep in the daylight. I lie and look at the water where he went down. There’s something funny about the whole thing, Christine. I heard that your little girl was the last one who saw him alive. Will you ask her about the last few minutes and tell me what she says? Maybe she remembers some little thing. I don’t care how small it is! No matter how small! Oh, my poor little Claude! What did they do to you? Somebody took the medal off his shirt, Christine. It couldn’t come off by accident. I pinned it on myself, and it had a clasp that locks in place. It was no accident. He was such a lovely, dear little boy. He said I was his sweetheart. He said he was going to marry me when he grew up. I used to laugh and say, "You’ll forget me long before then. You’ll find a prettier girl, and you’ll marry her." And you know what he said then? He said, "No, I won’t, because there’s not a prettier girl in the whole world than you are." Why do you put your arms around me? You don’t give a damn about me. You’re a superior person and all that, and I’m—oh, God forgive me! There were those bruises on his hands, and that peculiar crescent-shaped mark on his forehead that the undertaker covered up. He must have bled before he died. That’s’s what the doctor said. And where’s the medal? Who took the medal? I have a right to know what became to the penmanship medal! If I knew, I’d have a good idea what happened to him. I don’t; know hwy you took it on yourself to put your arms around me. I’m as good as you are. And Claude was better than your girl. He won the medal, and she didn’t—I’m drunk. It’s a pleasure to stay drunk when your little boy’s been killed."

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Joanne Woodward as Beatrice Hunsdorfer:
"How did I get the vegetable wagon out without him seeing me? That was easy. Every time he got home for the day he'd make us both some sandwiches--my mama had been dead for years--and then he'd take a nap on the old sofa that used to be...there! And while he was sleeping I hitched up the horses and went riding around the block waving to everyone. I had more nerve than a bear when I was a kid. Let me tell you it takes nerve to sit up on that wagon everyday yelling "Apples! Pears! Cucum...bers!" Then my father came running down the block after me and started spanking me right on top of the wagon--not hard--but it was so embarrassing. And you better believe I never did it again. You would have loved him, and gone out with him on the wagon...all over Stapleton yelling as loud as you wanted, "Apples! Pears! Cucum...bers!" My father made up for all the other men in this whole world, Ruth. If only you two could have met. He'd only be about sixty-five now, do you realize that? And I'll bet he'd still be selling vegetables around town. All that fun and then I don't ever think I really knew what hit me. Well, it was just me and Papa...and your father hanging around. And then Papa got sick...and I drove with him up to the sanatorium. And then I came home and there were the horses...And I had the horses...taken care of. And then Papa got terribly sick and he begged me to marry so that he'd be sure I'd be taken care of. (she laughs) If he knew how I was taken care of he'd turn over in his grave. AND NIGHTMARES! DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THE NIGHTMARE I USED TO HAVE? I never had nightmares over the fights with your father or the divorce. I never had nightmares over any of that. Let me tell you about my nightmare that used to come back and back: Well, I'm on Papa's wagon, but it's newer and shinier and it's being pulled by beautiful white horses, not dirty work horses--these are like--circus horses with long manes and tinsel--and the wagon is blue, shiny blue. And it's full, filled with yellow apples, grapes, and green squash. You're going to laugh when you hear this. I'm wearing a lovely gown all covered with jewels...and my hair is piled up on top of my head with a long feather in it...and bells are ringing, hug bells swinging on a gold braid strung across the back of the wagon, and they're going DONG DONG, DONG DONG, DONG DONG. And I'm yelling APPLES! PEARS! CUCUM...BERS! And then I turn down our street and all the noise stops. This long street with all the doors shut tight and everything crowded next to each other and there's not a soul around. And then I start getting afraid that the vegetables are going to spoil...and that nobody's going to buy anything, and I feel as though I shouldn't be on the wagon, and I keep trying to call out. There's not a sound. Not a single sound...Then I turn my head and I look at this house across the street...I see an upstairs window...the curtains slowly part...And I see the face of my father."

"How did I get the vegetable wagon out without him seeing me? That was easy. Every time he got home for the day he'd make us both some sandwiches--my mama had been dead for years--and then he'd take a nap on the old sofa that used to be...there! And while he was sleeping I hitched up the horses and went riding around the block waving to everyone. I had more nerve than a bear when I was a kid. Let me tell you it takes nerve to sit up on that wagon everyday yelling "Apples! Pears! Cucum...bers!" Then my father came running down the block after me and started spanking me right on top of the wagon--not hard--but it was so embarrassing. And you better believe I never did it again. You would have loved him, and gone out with him on the wagon...all over Stapleton yelling as loud as you wanted, "Apples! Pears! Cucum...bers!" My father made up for all the other men in this whole world, Ruth. If only you two could have met. He'd only be about sixty-five now, do you realize that? And I'll bet he'd still be selling vegetables around town. All that fun and then I don't ever think I really knew what hit me. Well, it was just me and Papa...and your father hanging around. And then Papa got sick...and I drove with him up to the sanatorium. And then I came home and there were the horses...And I had the horses...taken care of. And then Papa got terribly sick and he begged me to marry so that he'd be sure I'd be taken care of. (she laughs) If he knew how I was taken care of he'd turn over in his grave. AND NIGHTMARES! DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THE NIGHTMARE I USED TO HAVE? I never had nightmares over the fights with your father or the divorce. I never had nightmares over any of that. Let me tell you about my nightmare that used to come back and back: Well, I'm on Papa's wagon, but it's newer and shinier and it's being pulled by beautiful white horses, not dirty work horses--these are like--circus horses with long manes and tinsel--and the wagon is blue, shiny blue. And it's full, filled with yellow apples, grapes, and green squash. You're going to laugh when you hear this. I'm wearing a lovely gown all covered with jewels...and my hair is piled up on top of my head with a long feather in it...and bells are ringing, hug bells swinging on a gold braid strung across the back of the wagon, and they're going DONG DONG, DONG DONG, DONG DONG. And I'm yelling APPLES! PEARS! CUCUM...BERS! And then I turn down our street and all the noise stops. This long street with all the doors shut tight and everything crowded next to each other and there's not a soul around. And then I start getting afraid that the vegetables are going to spoil...and that nobody's going to buy anything, and I feel as though I shouldn't be on the wagon, and I keep trying to call out. There's not a sound. Not a single sound...Then I turn my head and I look at this house across the street...I see an upstairs window...the curtains slowly part...And I see the face of my father."

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