Best Cinematic Rants, Part 2
Some of filmdom’s most memorable scenes have occurred in the midst of heightened emotion, enraged warriors, and the downtrodden who couldn’t take it any more.
Here’s a look at some of the big screen’s awesomest big-screen tongue-lashings, numbers 1 through 5:
5. "You know how these people are!": Ed Begley/Henry Fonda, "12 Angry Men"
In perhaps the quintessential American film, a group of 12 men are deciding the fate of a young boy accused of murder. In the sweltering jury room, tensions and prejudices boil over when Begley finally pops off, revealing his true feelings for "those people," only to have the jurors turn on him one by one. Finally, the ever-steady Henry Fonda defuses the situation.
4. "You want answers?": Jack Nicholson, "A Few Good Men"
One of the most famous courtroom scenes of all time, where Tom Cruise's Navy lawyer's gambit against Nicholson's Marine colonel in an attempt to get him to admit he ordered two soldiers to brutalize another, resulting in his death. Nicholson's robust, tight-lipped portrayal, combined with his slimy sense of humor and entitlement, gives the ultimate legitimacy to his character's actions. You almost agree that Jessup did the right thing simply on the basis of his argument. But not quite.
"Oh, you finished? Well, allow me to retort.": Samuel L. Jackson, "Pulp Fiction"
This scene in Tarantino's masterpiece finds two hitmen sent to retrieve a mysterious briefcase from the men who stole it. With the closing of this scene, Tarantino's signature snappy, profanity-laced dialog was unleashed on a world not ready for it, and changed how movies were scripted. Jackson himself wavers between in-your-face rage, cool calm, and righteous indignation as he barks out his favorite verse of the Bible.
2. "Coffee is for closers only": Alec Baldwin, "Glengarry Glen Ross"
"Glengarry" is almost a feature-length series of rants, but this is the best of them all. Baldwin casually strolls into a pressure-cooker time-share sales office, and proceeds to browbeat one of the greatest ensemble casts ever assembled, that includes Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon, and all of 'em swinging their brass balls for each other to see.
1. "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more!": Peter Finch, Network
Finch's Howard Beale, a fed-up network newsman, goes on late, straight out of a rainstorm, and proceeds to have cinema's quintessential screen meltdown. His plea literally wags a finger at society, imploring them to stand up and stop playing the victim. It's the centerpiece of a classic film that is a message-within-a-message to its audience that resonates every bit as much today as it did then.