There is a scene in the domestic terrorism action flick Olympus Has Fallen, opening today, during which Melissa Leo’s character dramatically recites the Pledge of Allegiance while being dragged across the floor by her terrorist captors. A defiant moment, though perhaps too over-the-top to find at all moving.
The following 10 scenes, however, exemplify political melodrama at its absolute best. They’re crowd-pleasing monologues that teeter on the edge of too much and not enough, and they do it beautifully. By the end of each, you’ll want to shout “USA! USA! USA!” while waving those tiny flags you get at parades. Check them out and get your clappin’ hands ready.
10. The Patriot – Sure, The Patriot is essentially gratuitous violence with a few American flags thrown in here and there, but this scene of a woman knocking sense into the revolutionaries is pretty powerful. (Video)
9. Red Dawn – The bald eagle may be the animal most Americans use as a symbol for our country, but-to some of us-nothing screams “AMERICA!” like the wolverine. Or, at least, the Wolverines in Red Dawn. When World War III begins, it’s up to the pack of teens led by Jed (Patrick Swayze) to take care of the foreign invaders who’ve taken over their town. His militant defense of their town is explained succinctly; it’s up to them to fight “BECAUSE WE LIVE HERE.”
8. Air Force One – “Get off my plane” may be the most famous line from the 1997 film, but this speech given early in the film sets up our hero’s personality and convictions with a stoic bang. (Video)
7. Born on the Fourth of July – This speech, given by Tom Cruise as Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, has a different tone than the other speeches on this list, but it’s no less patriotic for it. (Video)
6. Patton – Set against the oft-parodied backdrop of an enormous US flag, this speech is the ultimate military man’s monologue. Loud, proud, and almost comically direct, it’s one of the most famous scenes in movie history for good reason. (Video)
5. The Contender – The Contender is the underrated story of a woman (Joan Allen) being considered to be the replacement for the sitting Vice President after his sudden death. What was planned to be a quick confirmation soon becomes a major scandal, and she is forced to defend herself from allegations that may or may not be true. (Video)
4. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – Oh come on, this is the movie full of beautiful patriotic speeches that make you wish you worked in government. Until, of course, you read the politics section and say, “NEVER MIND!” (Video)
3. Dick – OK, fine. It’s not really a speech, but this comedy about an alternate history of the Watergate scandal finds huge laughs in its protagonists’ love for their country – despite their political ignorance.
2. The American President – Aaron Sorkin sure knows how to write a presidential speech. Just watch it and write in Michael Douglas on your 2016 ballot. (Video)
1. Independence Day – Oh please, like this wouldn’t be #1. If aliens were attacking, wouldn’t you want Bill Pullman in the White House? OK, don’t answer that. Just watch. (Video)