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Greatest Classic Mystery and Suspense Speeches: 6 Greatest Monologues

By    |   Saturday, 02 May 2015 11:42 AM

In many mystery and suspense movies, the antagonists keep quiet. After all, they don’t want to risk getting caught and incriminating themselves if they’ve done wrong.

Still, sometimes these characters take the risk and give lengthy monologues, revealing whom they really are. Whether it’s the guilty party or those trying to unravel the mystery, suspense and mystery films have given movie-goers many memorable monologues.

The following are six of the greatest classic mystery and suspense speeches.

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“Double Indemnity” (1944)

This is perhaps the classic film noir. Insurance salesman Walter Neff, played by Fred MacMurray, is unable to resist the allure of Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) despite Neff’s belief that she is going to kill her husband for insurance money.

Even though the plot centers on the MacMurray and Stanwyck characters, the two classic mystery and suspense speeches in this movie belong to Neff’s colleague, Barton Keyes, portrayed by Edward G. Robinson. In one case, he rattles off suicide statistics with a rapid-fire delivery coming straight from his memory.

But his second monologue is more telling. He describes to Neff how difficult it is for a murder to come off clean, especially when more than one person is involved with the crime.

In the movie, he says: “There it is, Walter. It's beginning to come apart at the seams already. Murder is never perfect, always comes apart sooner or later. When two people are involved, it's usually sooner. Now we know the Dietrichson dame is in it and the somebody else. Pretty soon, we'll know who that somebody else is. He'll show. He's got to show. Sometime, somewhere, they've got to meet. Their emotions are all kicked up. Whether it's love or hate, it doesn't matter. They can't keep away from each other.

They may think it's twice as safe because there are two of them. But it isn't twice as safe. It's ten times twice as dangerous. They've committed a murder. And it's not like taking a trolley ride together where they can get off at different stops. They're stuck with each other and they've got to ride all the way to the end of the line and it's a one-way trip and the last stop is the cemetery. She put in her claim. I’m going to throw it right back at her.”

“The Usual Suspects” (1995)

The closing scene with the mix of voices going through Agent Kujan’s head as he pieces together the case of Keyser Soze is easily the most unforgettable part of this mystery film. But the piece that sets up the ending is a classic suspense speech by Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey) in relating to Kujan just how Soze built his legendary ruthless reputation.

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist” quote was used to set up the ironic effect at the end of the movie.

The scenes online can be borderline NSFW, so here’s a link to the speech from Filmsite.org.

Here’s the full text of Kint’s speech:

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. One story the guys told me, the story I believe, was from his days in Turkey. There was a gang of Hungarians that wanted their own mob. They realized that to be in power, you didn't need guns or money or even numbers. You just needed the will to do what the other guy wouldn't. After a while, they come into power and then they come after Soze. He was small-time then, just running dope, they say.

They come to his home in the afternoon, looking for his business. They find his wife and kids in the house and decide to wait for Soze. He comes home to find his wife raped and children screaming. The Hungarians knew Soze was tough, not to be trifled with, so they let him know they meant business. They tell him they want his territory, all his business. Soze looks over the faces of his family. Then he showed these men of will what will really was. He tells them he would rather see his family dead than live another day after this. He lets the last Hungarian go.

He waits until his wife and kids are in the ground, and then he goes after the rest of the mob. He kills their kids. He kills their wives. He kills their parents and their parents' friends. He burns down the houses they live in and the stores they work in. He kills people that owe him money. And like that, he's gone. Underground. Nobody's ever seen him since. He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. 'Rat on your pop and Keyser Soze will get ya.' And no one ever really believes.”

“A Few Good Men” (1992)

“You can’t handle the truth!,” a line that became instantly famous, was spoken by Jack Nicholson’s Col. Nathan Jessup in “A Few Good Men.”

This classic speech is renowned for that phrase. Nicholson’s entire tirade, which took place in a courtroom and was against military lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise), belittles Kaffee and ends up harming Jessup. Kaffee is trying to uncover why a marine was killed. He believes Jessup’s attempt to toughen up that Marine led to his death.

While the film could be considered a drama, it has strong elements of suspense and mystery, making this a classic suspense movie speech.

Here is the full excerpt of Jessup’s speech:

“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, Lt. 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. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

We use words like 'honor,' 'code,' 'loyalty.' We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said, 'Thank you' and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to! “

“The Night of the Hunter” (1955)

Robert Mitchum plays a murderous reverend in this eerie thriller. Early on, Mitchum sees a boy looking at his hands. On one hand, Mitchum has H-A-T-E tattooed, a letter a finger, across his fingers. On the other, L-O-V-E is tattooed in the same manner.

While the love-hate concept has been done in films since “The Night of the Hunter” came out, this classic speech defines Reverend Harry Powell. But, of course, since this was the original love-hate sighting, that alone makes it memorable.

This was Powell’s speech:

“Ah, little lad, you're staring at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of right hand, left hand, the story of good and evil?

H-A-T-E, it was with this left hand that old brother Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low. L-O-V-E, you see these fingers, dear hearts? These fingers have veins that run straight to the soul of man. The right hand, friends, the hand of love. Now watch, and I'll show you the story of life. Those fingers, dear hearts, is always a-warring and a-tugging, one a-gin the other. Now watch 'em. Old brother left hand, left hand he's a fighting, and it looks like love's a goner. But wait a minute, wait a minute. Hot dog, love's a winning. Yessirree. It's love that's won, and old left hand hate is down for the count.”

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“Psycho” (1960)

The shock value of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic has diminished, since many more bloody and violent films have been released since it first came out. However, the creepiness factor remains. The unhinged Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a murderer who has preserved his dead mom’s corpse, has murdered several people.

The disturbing tone of the film continues even after Bates is caught. While he sits in jail, his mother’s voice, provided by Virginia Gregg, rattles off a strange monologue that has become a suspense classic, as the movie closes with a deranged grin from Bates.

This was Gregg’s speech:

“It's sad when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son, but I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man, as if I could do anything except just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds.

Oh, they know I can't even move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even gonna swat that fly. I hope they are watching. They'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, 'Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly.'”

“Soylent Green” (1973)

This Charlton Heston movie could fit into so many categories. It might be classified as a drama, or a sci-fi for its futuristic nature. At its heart it is a mystery, and the conclusion to that mystery leads to one of the classic closing speeches.

In this speech, Heston’s Detective Thorn has discovered the food source that is given to the population in this bleak future Earth is made from dead people. As he is being carted off at the end, Heston warns Chief Hatcher, portrayed by Brock Peters, that someone must be warned about Soylent Green.

This is Heston’s big scene, along with some dialogue from Peters.

Thorn: “Ocean’s dying, plankton’s dying. It's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of people. Next thing they'll be breeding us like cattle for food. You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them.”

Hatcher: “I promise, Tiger. I’ll tell them. I’ll tell the exchange.”

Thorn: “You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You've gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We've gotta stop them — somehow!”

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In many mystery and suspense movies, the antagonists keep quiet. After all, they don't want to risk getting caught and incriminating themselves if they've done wrong. Still, sometimes these characters take the risk and give lengthy classic speeches.
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Saturday, 02 May 2015 11:42 AM
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