If you've seen enough Katharine Hepburn movies, you know the moment—that big scene when Hepburn's character just has to speak her mind. Whether she can no longer suffer fools (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Pat and Mike), has suppressed her affections long enough (Without Love, Holiday), is compelled to utter a simple and strong declaration of independence (Morning Glory) or merely has a powerful speech to deliver (Adam's Rib), it's a moment where Hepburn owns the screen and audiences take notice. Here are ten examples of Kate laying it on the line.
Now I have some instructions for you. I want you to go straight back to the gallery—start your motor. When you get to the gallery, tell Jennifer that she will be looking after things temporarily. She's to give me a ring if there's anything she can't deal with herself. Then go into the office and make out a check, for "cash," for the sum of $5,000. Then carefully, but carefully, Hilary, remove absolutely everything that might subsequently remind me that you had ever been there, including that yellow thing with the blue bulbs which you have such an affection for. Then take the check, for $5,000, which I feel you deserve, and get—permanently—lost. It's not that I don't want to know you, Hilary, although I don't. It's just that I'm afraid we're not really the sort of people that you can afford to be associated with. Don't speak, Hilary, just...go.
— Christina Drayton, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
Chelsea, you havea great big chip on your shoulder which is very unattractive. It is, it is…you stay away for years at a time, you only come home when I beg you to, then when you do, all you can do is be disagreeable about the past. Don’t you think everyone looks back on their childhood with a certain amount of bitterness and regret? It doesn’t have to ruin your life. Aren’t you tired of it all? Bore, bore bore. Life marches by, Chelse…I suggest you get on with it.
— Ethel Thayer, On Golden Pond (1981)
Nellie, they've all been trying to frighten me. They've been trying to frighten me into being sensible, but they can't do it. Not now. Not yet. They've got to let me be as foolish as I want to be. I, I want to ride through the crowd. I want to…I want to go buy me a mink coat. And I'll buy you a beautiful present. And Mr. Hedges! I'll buy Mr. Hedges a little house. And it'll have rooms full of white orchids. And they've got to tell me that I'm much more wonderful than anyone else because, Nellie—Nellie, I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid of being just a morning glory. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. Why should I be afraid? I'm not afraid.
— Eva Lovelace, Morning Glory (1933)
Mrs. Beminger, if you could possibly lift the needle from that long playing phonograph you keep in your face…
[forcing Mrs. Beminger into a chair, twice]
Watch this…[to a fellow golfer] Will you excuse me? [drives nine golf balls in succession]
[to Mrs. Beminger] You know what you can do with your gluteal muscle? Give it away for Christmas!
— Pat Pemberton, Pat and Mike (1952)
Of course he has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives! It's 1183 and we're barbarians! How clear we make it. Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war: not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government, nor any other thing. We are the killers. We breed wars. We carry it like syphilis inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten. For the love of God, can't we love one another just a little— that's how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children. We could change the world.
— Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lion in Winter (1968)
You've got no faith in Johnny, have you, Julia? His little dream may fall flat, you think. Well, so it may, what if it should? There'll be another. Oh, I've got all the faith in the world in Johnny. Whatever he does is all right with me. If he wants to dream for a while, he can dream for a while, and if he wants to come back and sell peanuts, oh, how I'll believe in those peanuts!
— Linda Seton, Holiday (1938)
Reuben, I have to say it. Livin' with you has been an adventure any woman would relish for the rest o' time. I look at cha, with your burned out face and your big belly and your bear-like paws and your shining eye, and I have to say you're a credit to the whole male sex, and I'm proud to have ya for my friend.
— Eula Goodnight, Rooster Cogburn (1975)
You're safe, you old poop and you're definitely still you picking on poor old Charlie. After lunch, after we've gobbled up all those silly strawberries we'll take ourselves to the old town road. We've been there a thousand times. A thousand. And you'll remember it all. Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armour. Don't you forget it. You're gonna get back up on that horse and I'm gonna be right behind you holding on tight and away we're gonna go, go, go.
— Ethel Thayer, On Golden Pond (1981)
Jamie Rowan (Katharine Hepburn): We’re so utterly different, we could help each other, couldn’t we? I mean really help, that is, if we if we…
Pat Jamieson (Spencer Tracy): If we what?
Jamie Rowan: Don’t rush me, give me time.
Pat Jamieson: One, two, three, four…
Jamie Rowan: You see, it’s as I’ve told you, I’ve been thinking all sorts of things in all sorts of ways—backwards, forward, every which way, but chiefly forwards.
Pat Jamieson: Well, I, uh, I, uh, hope that mean that you’ve decided to stop living in the past.
Jamie Rowan: Yes that’s it, and I got to thinking maybe you’re right. I..it is stupid of me, it is selfish, but it is a terrible world to live in alone with just memories, and, and you’ve got such qualities to face it with, to do something about it with. Your eyes so clear you see so straight, you’re so so honest, so quick, so aware of everything, and fearless and foresighted.
Pat Jamieson: Wait a minute, wait a minute…
Jamie Rowan: No, don’t stop me now. I know I’m none of those things, except maybe honest. I’ve got qualities for it, too. I’m strong, and have, have lots of energy, and I’m brave, too, in a way—things don’t get me down, and I can take punishment. It isn’t just this house I can offer you or myself as an assistant. I thought that after all we said to each other that first night and the way we understand each other about love and so forth. I mean, I really, well you know I never could and I know how you never could or would or would want to. And then there’s all that, you know, what you call that powerful commodity to be put to use, so I thought…
Pat Jamieson: So you thought…
Jamie Rowan: So I wondered if maybe you’d like to marry me.
— Without Love (1945)
And so the question here is equality before the law, regardless of religion, color, wealth or, as in this instance, sex. Law, like man, is composed of two parts. Just as man is body and soul, so is the law, letter and spirit. The law says thou shalt not kill, yet men have killed, and proved a reason and been set free. Self defense, defense of others, of wife, of children, of home. If a thief breaks into your house and you shoot him, the law will not deal harshly with you, nor indeed should it. So here you are asked to judge not whether or not thise acts were committed, but to what extent they were justified.
And now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I request that you join me in a revealing experiment. I ask you all to direct your attention to the defendant, Mrs. Attinger. Now keep looking at her, keep watching, listen carefully and look at her, look at her hard. Now imagine her…a man. Go on now—use your imaginations. Think of her as a man sitting there, accused of a like crime, a husband who was only trying to protect his home. Now hold it, hold that impression and look at Beryl Caighn. Look at her, look at her hard. A man, a slick homewrecker, a third party…a wolf! You know the type. All right, hold that impression and look at Mr. Attinger and suppose him a woman. Try, try hard, ah yes, there she is—the guilty wife! Look at her! Does she arouse you sympathy? All right, now you have it. Judge it so. An unwritten law stands back of a man who fights to defend his home. We ask you, apply this same law to this maltreated wife and neglected woman. We ask you no more…equality.
Deep in the heart of South America there thrives today a civilization far older than ours, a people known as the Locañanos, descended from the Amazons. In this vast tribe, members of the femael sex rule and govern and systematically deny equal rights to the men, made weak and puny by years of subservience, too weak to revolt. And yet, how long have we lived in the shadow of a like injustice?
Consider this unfortunate woman’s act as though you yourselves had each committed it. Every living being is capable of attack if sufficiently provoked. Assault lies dormant with us all. It requires only circumstance to set it violently in motion. I ask you for a verdict of not quilty. There was no murder attempt here. Only a pathetic attempt to save a home.
— Amanda Bonner, Adam’s Rib (1949)