Coworker Dave and I started talking about classic scenes from movies, and I started musing about classic “Angry Man Monologue” scenes. These, opposed to the “Crazy Man Monologue” scenes. Scenes from movies that involve a truly epic rant by a righteous (or self-righteous) character.
This wasn’t meant to be restricted to men; it just so happens that it’s pretty rare that a classic angry rant comes from an actress. I’ve come up with a least one actress rant to include on the list, additional entries welcome.
We’ll start with the obvious.
Samuel L. Jackson, as Jules Winnfield, in “Pulp Fiction” (1994) – the hit scene. Launched a career of angry man rants.
Jack Nicholson, as Daryl Van Horne, in “The Witches of Eastwick” (1987). The ranting about the perfidiousness of women to a thunderstruck church-going audience is I think my second favorite Jack Nicholson performance of any sort, and beats out Jack as Col. Nathan R. Jessup, in “A Few Good Men” (1992).
Lee Cobb, as Juror #3, in “12 Angry Men” (1957). The furious breakdown of an sad man buried under a lifetime of bitterness.
Also from 12 Angry Men, Ed Begley, as Juror #10. The racist rant.
Clint Eastwood, as William Munny, in “Unforgiven” (1992). “That’s right. I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another. And I’m here to kill you, Little Bill, for what you did to Ned.” The scene that displays the cold fury that Eastwood reached for in most of the characters his entire career, and finally seized and embraced to full effectiveness. This scene itself is fascinating as an interplay of monologues; Gene Hackman’s Little Bill and Eastwood’s Munny trade lines, but neither is really addressing the other. They’re either talking to everyone else in the room, or to themselves. All the communication between the two men is in the eyes.
Gregory Peck, as Keith Mallory, in “The Guns of Navarone” (1961). A inherently fairly decent man, driven by the pressures of war to set up his friend in an impossible situation, confronted by another decent man (David Niven). Worthy not only for Peck’s rant (as excellent a performance as any other in his career), but for Niven’s response, communicated almost entirely by expression.
Uma Thurman, as Maid Marian, in “Robin Hood” (1991). Losing out to Kevin Costner’s version in the marketing war shunted this (much better) incarnation to the small screen. As a result, Uma’s lambasting of her paramour Sir Miles Folcanet (Jurgen Prochnow) simply didn’t get the exposure to the cinema world it deserved. “Conquer your ignorance, Miles. Fight your stupid greed.”
Humphrey Bogart, as Sam Spade, in “The Maltese Falcon” (1941). Spade’s breakdown of his negotiation with Gutman ends with a seemingly furious tirade, only for the audience to realize as he storms out of the room that the character has been acting. The slight twist at the end of the scene as Sam boards the elevator shows that Mr. Spade isn’t *quite* the cool character we’ve all been thinking he is (unfortunately not included in the below clip).
Ricardo Montalban, as Khan, in “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” (1982). “For hate’s sake… I spit my last breath at thee.” Yep, it’s a performance that would probably be regarded as “over the top” if it didn’t come in the same movie as the King of the OverToppers (Shatner). Which, in and of itself, is the reason why it belongs on the list… nobody could have played Khan’s rage at Kirk better than Ricardo did… without either making his own performance look ridiculous, or Shatner’s.
Honorable mention goes to Jimmy Stewart’s Jefferson Smith from “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington“, but the ending scene is less about anger than it is disillusionment.
People are going to ask, where’s Pacino’s “Say hello to my leetle friend!” or Finch’s “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”… those are the Crazy Man Rants, and I’ll get to those later.