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Apocalypse Now monologue tops best movie speeches poll



Story by: Jack Foley

ROBERT Duvall’s gung-ho, ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning’ speech has topped a poll to find the best speech in cinema history, compiled by DVD and video rental specialists, Blockbuster.

The monologue, from seminal war movie, Apocalypse Now, came first in a poll of 6,500 film buffs, and was given by the character, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore, following the bombing of a Vietnamese village. It is one of several memorable lines in the 1979 epic.

Second in the poll was Jack Nicholson's, ‘You can't handle the truth’ speech, from A Few Good Men, in which the grizzled war veteran went head-to-head in a courtroom with Tom Cruise.

While third was Marlon Brando's ‘I could have been a contender’ address, from On The Waterfront, and fourth was Samuel L Jackson’s ‘God’s fury’ rant in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Of the other memorable speeches, Michael Douglas' "Greed is good" line, from Wall Street, which helped to win him the best actor Oscar, also featured highly, as did Ewan McGregor’s ‘Choose life’ monologue, from Trainspotting (which was also sampled on a record), and Clint Eastwood's classic, ‘Do you feel lucky punk?’ line from Dirty Harry.

There were also votes for Kevin Spacey's opening speech in American Beauty, and Russell Crowe’s address to his troops before the opening battle in Gladiator.

Notably, not a single speech in the top 20 was made by a female character.

The top 10 in full:

1. Robert Duvall, Apocalypse Now (1979): You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. Someday this war's gonna end...

2. Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men (1992): You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know - that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

3. Marlon Brando, On The Waterfront (1954): Remember that night in the Garden? You came down to my dressing room and you said 'kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson'... You was my brother, Charlie. You shoulda looked out for me a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum. Which is what I am. Let's face it.

4. Samuel L Jackson, Pulp Fiction (1994): The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.

5. Michael Douglas, Wall Street (1987): The point is, ladies and gentleman, is that greed - for lack of a better word - is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms - greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge - has marked the upward surge of mankind. And Greed - you mark my words - will not only save Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.

6. Peter Finch, Network (1976): I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the streets, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.

7. Ewan McGregor, Trainspotting (1996): Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family, Choose a big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends... Choose your future. Choose life.

8. Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry (1971): I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?

9. Richard E Grant, Withnail and I (1987): What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, how like an angel in apprehension, how like a God! The beauty of the world, paragon of animals; and yet to me, what is this quintessence of dusk. Man delights not me, no, nor women neither, nor women neither.

10. Mel Gibson, Braveheart (1995): You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight? Aye, fight and you may die, run and you'll live. At least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!

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