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History site delivers fave film speeches

"History site
delivers fave
film speeches

By Paul Bond

“Sons of Scotland, I am William Wallace,” says Mel Gibson in “Braveheart,” just before launching into one of the most popular speeches in movie history. How do we know it’s so popular? Because professor Michael Eidenmuller says so.

Eidenmuller teaches communications at the University of Texas at Tyler, and two years ago he founded the Web site AmericanRhetoric.com, a repository of text and audio of the country’s most historically significant speeches.

The most recent addition to the site is the Movie Speeches Page, where he lists the 22 movies that contain his favorite cinema speeches, and the one that visitors most read or listen to is Gibson’s Wallace freedom speech to the Scottish army at Stirling. No. 2 is George C. Scott addressing the 3rd Army in “Patton” (pictured).

Because the nonprofit site’s purpose is education, Eidenmuller is confident he’s not infringing on copyrights. He even links to Amazon.com, where visitors can buy the movies he lists, which ought to make the studios happy.

“The educational value of movie rhetoric lies partly in trying to get audiences to feel something in their gut,” Eidenmuller said. “Actors are experts in delivering symbols, and particularly in manipulating their voices to induce emotional participation in humans who naturally, viscerally respond to verbal (and nonverbal) symbol manipulation.”

The site lets users suggest a movie speech for inclusion, and Eidenmuller said he’ll add at least two new movies per month.

Naturally, the professor has his own favorites: both the opening and closing filibuster speeches delivered by Jimmy Stewart in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

“They represent a glorious moment in cinematic speechmaking history,” he said.

Nota Bene: This version modified slightly from the original article.


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American Rhetoric
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by Michael E. Eidenmuller
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