Paddy Chayefski monologues


Has anyone written better speeches for the movies than this man. In Network he got people to stand up and scream 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more'.

In Americanization of Emily, James Garner beautifully delivers two insightfully entertaining speeches about Honour/War/Motives and america bashers. Although the 2 speeches are over 4 decades old they may be more true today than they were back then.



It's the bible, you get credit for trying!

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I'll have to see Network sometime. I'm sure impressed with Chayefsky based on this film. I just read the Network plot summary, and it looks real interesting.

"Extremism in the pursuit of moderation is no vice."

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I can't believe this movie actually got made. It would be impossible to make this movie today.

Blaming wars on war widows? WOW!! Somebody's gonna get lynched.

The movie is a little uneven, but the subject matter probably made it impossible for a simple Hollywood storyline.

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Don't mean to rain on this parade, but the monologue said "intellectual leftist writer during the McCarthy Period" all over it.

I loved the film, which I just saw on TV. But the Garner character was just a bit too polished, and real people don't talk in polished paragraphs, but short sentences.

A real period piece, and the passion was convincing.

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To a point, I agree. The ideas in the speeches were brilliant, but sometimes they sounded too WRITTEN - they didn't come across like spontaneous dialogue. James Garner did everything he could to make the words sound natural but he wasn't helped by Paddy Chayefsky, who hadn't translated what he'd written into believable human expression.

But in spite of this, I still have great admiration for The Americanization Of Emily. I think it's one of the smartest movies of the 60s, and Garner gave a terrific, career-defining performance.

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In fact, the whole film looks and sounds like a (brilliant) play adapted to the screen. I don't mind monologues, and of course people don't talk like that in real life, they talk like that in this movie. Why need a writer if every dialogue in every film were the way people talk in real life…

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Why need a writer if every dialogue in every film were the way people talk in real life...?




But that's what a really good screenwriter can do - hit the important points the dialogue is supposed to hit, but make it sound like genuine human expression. A good example would be William Goldman's award-winning script for All The President's Men.

Chayefsky may not be entirely to blame here; the truth is, much of the film's dialogue is quite good. But Charlie and Emily's love scene in Sussex has a rudimentary "speak-kiss-pause, speak-kiss-pause" quality that makes the actors look like they're retrieving frisbees at a dog obedience school. And Arthur Hiller (who isn't the most imaginative of directors) gives us a sequence that practically shouts "Now we're kissing, now we're stopping for some thoughtful dialogue, now we're kissing again, and now we're stopping for even more thoughtful dialogue." The scene would be laughable were it not for the potent screen chemistry of James Garner and Julie Andrews, who make even this cumbersome sequence work beautifully.

However, there's no question that one of Chayefsky's monologues - Charlie's "Coca-Cola" speech to Emily - is one of my cinematic all-time favorites. And Garner delivers it superbly -


CHARLIE: You American haters bore me to tears, Ms. Barham. I've dealt with Europeans all my life. I know all about us parvenus from the States who come over here and race around your old Cathedral towns with our cameras and Coca-Cola bottles... Brawl in your pubs, paw at your women, and act like we own the world. We over-tip, we talk too loud, we think we can buy anything with a Hershey bar. I've had Germans and Italians tell me how politically ingenuous we are, and perhaps so. But we haven't managed a Hitler or a Mussolini yet. I've had Frenchmen call me a savage because I only took half an hour for lunch. Hell, Ms. Barham, the only reason the French take two hours for lunch is because the service in their restaurants is lousy. The most tedious lot are you British. We crass Americans didn't introduce war into your little island. This war, Ms. Barham to which we Americans are so insensitive, is the result of 2,000 years of European greed, barbarism, superstition, and stupidity. Don't blame it on our Coca-Cola bottles. Europe was a going brothel long before we came to town.

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You are incorrect. At the time, Paddy was heavily into Ayn Rand's Objectivism, most of the speeches were attempts to communicate Ayn's ideas. although the ending does appear to be tacked as a more conservative POV.

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Actually, intelligent people do say things in the style and manner of Chayefsky's characters. When I see one of Paddy's films I am always stunned by this fact. In today's films you never see intelligent people speaking in whole paragraphs.

But that doesn't mean that some people don't still speak that way.

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Lol! I know just what you mean Jimmy.

Some people talk this way and some don't--it just happens that Emily and Charlie are the types who do. They had a lot on their minds!

We shouldn't forget that Paddy Chayefsky also wrote Marty--no fancy speeches there, but a marvelous script and movie.

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The reason I watch and love Chayfski's films (scripts he wrote) is for the dialogue, and those monologues. Remember, he's writing for characters that are very intelligent. Why shouldn't they be able to speak intelligently? Also, the characters, educated in the early decades of the 20th century, would have had more exposure to great literature and ideas, which for some reason are looked upon today as unnecessary. (More the fools.) And take his script for "Marty." His protagonists are uneducated working stiffs, whose little speeches seem entirely natural for their stature in society. So for me, just because the dialogue seems too pat doesn't detract. IMHO.

Sometimes life is like asking strangers for directions to the Susquehanna Hat Company.

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Remember, he's writing for characters that are very intelligent. Why shouldn't they be able to speak intelligently?


The reporters and editors in All The President's Men are intelligent as well, but when they speak to each other they sound like human beings. Intelligent human beings, but human beings nonetheless; what they say to each other doesn't sound written. However, when I hear some of the speeches in The Americanization Of Emily, I feel like I'm listening to Paddy Chayefsky's typewriter. Suddenly I'm no longer hearing people spontaneously express themselves; I'm hearing people deliver well-rehearsed speeches.

There's no question Chayefsky was a clever and gifted writer, but there are times in Emily when I wish he'd - what's the expression? - "reigned in his parade."

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"Suddenly I'm no longer hearing people spontaneously express themselves; I'm hearing people deliver well-rehearsed speeches.

There's no question Chayefsky was a clever and gifted writer, but there are times in Emily when I wish he'd - what's the expression? - "reigned in his parade." "



Shouldn't that be "reined in his parade" ;-)?

There are people who speak in cogent sentences and paragraphs. Although I didn't agree with just about anything he said, (except when he advocated decriminalizing weed after sailing into international waters before trying it), you can listen to one of the best extemporaneous speakers ever, William F. Buckley, if you can find recordings of his old interview series. Possibly the best ever real-time advocate, even if it was in service to a false god. Paragraphs be damned, he practically spoke in complete essays. Dennis Miller (okay) and Bill Maher (better and smarter) are more contemporary practitioners of the art, but WFB remains the champ, IMHO.

Part of this performance art is the ability to remember previous rants, and refine and build upon them, honing the message with each repetition. Characters such as Charlie have had this argument before, and are smart enough to remember the most telling parts, and deliver them with gusto. Currently, Aaron Sorkin does some fine work on "Harry's Law", just as he did previously on "West Wing", even if he seems to be waxing more libertarian than liberal this time around.

As a long-time live theater fan, I am perhaps more tolerant of such speeches, as they are a very good theatrical device. The "heightened realism" of those speeches is useful in that it will get across very complex ideas with a minimum of confusion and spent time, something that is arguably not possible with the ums, errs, pauses, backtracks, and repetitions in the speech of ordinary mortals like myself.

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Aaron Sorkin's script for The Social Network is another example of what I'm talking about; spontaneous exchanges between smart people that don't sound carefully prepared.

And of course, even William F. Buckley had a way of expressing his ideas without making them sound painstakingly rehearsed; on the other hand, Charlie Madison's scenes with Emily's mother feel so precisely timed and delivered you can almost hear Arthur Hiller off-camera saying "Cut and print."

I'm also a long time fan of live theater, but I don't think theatrical dialogue works well in film; it tends to sound like - well, theatrical dialogue. But if you have no problem with Emily's script, that's fine. In fact, I know many who think this is one of the best-written films of all time. And I know other people who cringe at much of the dialogue, simply because it calls attention to itself as WRITTEN DIALOGUE.



PS: And yes, "reined" would be correct. The expression, nonetheless, still applies.

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I agree there is the "I've had this discussion a hundred times" type of speech pattern where the person DOES talk like that. The ideas are well-honed and the rant has undoubtedly been used before in somewhat the same form.

I particularly like some of the British comedians who are excellent at intelligent ad lib panel shows and can carry off a rant like this with great skill.

People whose stock in trade are arguments and words can become very good at using them to more or less beat the opposition into submission. In this setting it can be seen as his alternative to war, to using his fists or a gun, the same way comics who grew up in bad neighborhoods learn to use their wits and sense of humor as an alternative. I might suggest that many intelligent ranters aren't very happy people because they are outsiders but this can become their advantage in life.

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I think even more remarkable are his dialogue exchanges. Characters argue their points of view cleverly and we can really see where they're coming from. It's easy to state your own point of view, but to effectively state differing views with conviction is hard.

"Now let's have an intelligent conversation. I'll talk and you listen."

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The arch, overwritten dialogue is the worst thing about Chayefsky screenplays. He apparently has no idea how real human beings talk, and his character monologues are an opportunity for him to get on a soapbox and spew loads of strained, pretentious ideological nonsense that only navel-gazing elitist writers could conceive, but that no living person would ever speak in the real world. It sounds like dialogue for the stage...for smug, self-congratulatory plays. In the movies, it's even more excruciatingly tone-deaf.

If you thought the dialogue sounded written in this film, you need to rewatch Network because it's just as bad in that one. Particularly the break-up scene between Holden and Dunaway. That's not how everyday people or tv journalists talk. It's how self-righteous playwrights with "intellectual" affectations might talk, and it's certainly how they write.

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