Ready for My Close-up!, Great Movie Speeches

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(Limelight). “If I want to send a message, I’ll call Western Union.” This famous line has been attributed to various movie moguls, yet while these moguls ruled the Hollywood studio system, movies were in the midst of a golden age of dialogue. Films included more messages, ideas, themes, and pontifications than they ever have since. Although producers trembled at commands from the front office, writers (the low men and women on the totem pole) went quietly to their typewriters and, as the subversive revolutionaries that most writers are, turned out prose that did send messages. How could they resist? They had the biggest and best platform in the world: Hollywood movies. The 200 speeches collected in Ready for My Close-Up! are from some of the best and a few of the worst films ever made. From Groucho Marx’s “I shot an elephant in my pajamas” to Julia Roberts’s “What it takes to be a movie star,” here is the wit and wisdom of the great Hollywood screenwriters.

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