Top Ten Movie Battle Speeches

Not a bad list, although I would have had Patton at number one and I would not have included The Great Dictator.  Shakespeare of course has set the standard for all pre-battle speeches:

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

I would have included these two speeches from Gettysburg (1993) in the list:

Add your contributions in the comboxes.



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  1. I definitely agree Patton’s speech should be at or near the top of the list. I’m surprised there are no John Wayne speeches in the list. Frankly, I can’t think of one of the top of my head but it’s hard to imagine a Wayne movie without one. 🙂
    IIRC, Travis’ Alamo speech was pretty good. So was the one in We Were Soldiers. I’m sure there are plenty others that would at least beat out Independence Day and the Great Dictator.

  2. “Frankly, I can’t think of one of the top of my head but it’s hard to imagine a Wayne movie without one.”

    I have always liked these sequences from the Sands of Iwo Jima which captures the spirit of every DI I have ever known:

  3. I keep meaning to comment on this thread. Shakespeare owns this category, but Branagh doesn’t pull it off. He’s doing Robin Hood, not Henry V. Too impish, too sentimental.

    Mel is great in that one. There’s something so realistic about the dynamics of that speech. And Bill Pullman has never done a better job in a movie. As for 300, technically, the whole movie is a battle speech.

  4. Most of the extras were British commandoes who would soon be fighting in France for real. On D-Day many of the Brits in the landing craft had read to them portions of the Band of Brothers speech.

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