Monday, June 12, 2006

Great Movie Speeches: The Big Kahuna

If you've never seen The Big Kahuna, it's not bad. Not my favorite film of all time, but worth watching because of a very well-written speech at the end, clearly what the whole movie is leading up to.

The story is about three salesmen attending a sales conference. Their sole objective is to grab an audience with a major buyer so they can sell him their industrial lubricants, thus the title of the film. One of the three salesmen, the youngest, is a devout Christian and unexpectedly bumps into "The Big Kahuna" at an after-hours social party. Instead of using this golden opportunity to sell his industrial lubricants—as he must know the other two veteran salesmen would want him to—he chooses instead to talk to this man about Jesus.

Upon recounting this to the other men, it sends them into a fit of rage. One, played by Kevin Spacey, goes especially beserk. The young salesman desperately explains that he didn't feel "honest" talking to this man about industrial lubricants at a party and instead spoke about Jesus not because he wanted convert the man (so he says), but because "Jesus is important to me."

Spacey's character leaves in disgust and then De Vito's character calmly tells the young salesman that he'll one day regret his decision. "I haven't done anything yet that I regret," the young salesman retorts.

De Vito's character then says:

You've already done plenty of things to regret. You just don't know what they are. It's when you discover them. When you see the folly in something you've done and you wish that you had it to do over, but you know you can't because it's too late. So you pick that thing up and you carry it with you to remind you that life goes on, the world will spin without you. It really doesn't matter in the end. Then, you will attain character, because honesty will reach out from inside and tattoo itself across your face.

It doesn't matter whether you're selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or How to Make Money in Real Estate With No Money Down. That doesn't make you a human being; it makes you a marketing rep. If you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are—just to find out, for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it's not a conversation anymore; it's a pitch. And you're not a human being; you're a marketing rep.

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