1. The ‘Watch’ speech from Pulp Fiction The speech that no matter how many times you see it, no matter how many times you’ve heard your lame friends quote it, no matter how many awful comedians you’ve heard do their cliché Walken impersonation, you will still stop channel surfing to listen to Walken retell the tale of the infamous watch and all the glorious human canals it has frequented. It seemed as though Tarantino’s mannered dialogue and Christopher Walken’s mannered delivery were destined to join together like Voltron and lay the smack down on the ears of movie fans everywhere.
2. The ‘Lion’ speech from Poolhall Junkies Howard Hawks was once asked what makes a great movie. He responded by saying “three good scenes, no bad scenes.” Now Poolhall Junkies has a few really bad scenes, but it has a few priceless ones too. Not the least of which is Christopher Walken’s half time pep talk to Mars Callahan’s pool shark, playing for (what else) his pride, revenge, and a whole lot of cash. Anytime you hear Christopher Walken start a sentence off with, “Do you ever watch those nature shows on the cable…” you know you’re in for a treat.
3. The ‘Welcome to Hell’ speech from The Rundown The Rundown was the start of what I thought was going to be a tremendous action movie carreer for The Rock. He has since done a good job of not being typecast as an action star, but instead he’s filling nicely into the role of the ‘Hey, I’m a tough guy, but I can also act terribly in formulaic family comedies! Yay!’ guy.
The Rundown holds up as an exciting well-acted movie when things blow up. It is one more in the ever growing rogues gallery of Christopher Walken villains, and he slides into the role like a pair of well worn leather chaps. When The Rock’s hero first shows up in the jungle he must contend with Walken’s gold miner, Hatcher. Hatcher then proceeds to learn him a few things about that old saying that we all know from our youth, “One man’s exploitation of slave labor is another man’s golden tooth.”
4. The ‘Lying’ speech from True Romance This scene, another written by Tarantino, has become legend and well deserved. The scene is so good it is a disservice to the rest of the movie, which seems lame by comparison. Walken’s monologue about lying, liars, and how to spot them is often overshadowed by Dennis Hopper’s powerhouse ‘Sicilian Speech’, but before he delivers his, Walken looks like he is going to steal the scene and the movie with his game of ‘show and tell’.
5. The ‘Artist’ speech from Man On Fire The revenge genre of film is one that is usually very manipulative and off-putting. Most of them usually set up situations where the bad buys commit crimes so heinous that it frees the ‘good guys’ up to be as sadistic and violent as they want without losing the sympathy of the audience. Man On Fire is just such a movie, because crimes against children are the most egregious, Denzel can become quite savage, and the film becomes very bleak and harsh.
The one bright spot in the film, as he is with most films, is Christopher Walken who comes in playing a former colleague of Denzel’s. Once little Dakota Fanning is kidnapped and Zel starts his rampage, all bets are off, and Christopher Walken delivers the best bit of dialogue in the movie, comparing Washington to an artist about to “paint his masterpiece”.