Several scenes from Monty Python's Life of Brian come to mind.
- The window speech of Brian
- The market speech of Brian
- The bargaining at the market
- The speech of John Cleese at the secret convention
- The roman night guards catching Brian
- Jesus' speech on the hill and the reactions from Michael Palin
The "window speech" by Brian is just one example. (There's some nudity
so it might not be what you can use, but the rest of the scenes should
are usable.) For this scene, in case you didn't see it, imagine a
large crowd speaking in unity and a prophet who doesn't want to be
one, but who's now forced to hold a speech:
Life of Brian: Scene 19
Brian! Brian! Brian!...
A blessing! A blessing! A blessing!...
No. No, please! Please! Please listen. I've got one or two things to
Tell us. Tell us both of them.
Look. You've got it all wrong. You don't need to follow me. You don't
need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves. You're all
Yes, we're all individuals!
You're all different!
Yes, we are all different!"
To order this video:
Amazon.com - Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
Fawlty Towers, as mentioned by Tehuti in the comments, is another good
example. Almost every episode should include enough footage to use for
1-3 minutes clip. Just look for all occurrences of the Spanish hotel
clerk and waiter Manuel who can't really speak English. Whenever Basil
Fawlty (John Cleese) or someone else is giving him orders or asks him
something, he replies with a single "Qué?" --"What?".
Speaking Spanish is no solution either:
From: The Builders
"[Manuel is posing for Polly]
Manuel: Oh, Polly, finish, I tired.
Polly: Oh, that's wonderful, Manuel - just hold it a second.
Polly: Quiero ascender para dormir.
Manuel: No, no, you must speak me English. Is good, I learn.
Polly: I want to go upstairs in a moment.
Polly: I ... go upstairs ...
Manuel: Si. Is easy.
Polly: For a little sleep.
Manuel: Is difficult.
Polly: For siesta
Manuel: Siesta - little sleep?
Manuel: Same in Spanish."
To order this video (also available on DVD):
Amazon.com - Fawlty Towers - The Complete Collection
Many comedies from ZAZ (Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker) feature
hilarious scenes where people fail to communicate. You probably saw
Airplane! (1980) when the crowd is singing and someone in the
background is waving hands, dying. Or several scenes from Naked Gun
with Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen).
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
What better example for failure of communication than a divorce
battle; when love turns to hate?
The War of the Roses (1989)
The folowing Black & White movie by Stanley Kubrick contains a
conversation between the President of the USA and Russia during the
cold war. Both sides seem to want the same -- prevent a third world
war before time is running out -- but utterly fail to communicate:
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Dr. Strangelove: A Continuity Transcript
The President of the USA (Peter Sellers) in the war room, on the phone
"Hello? Hello, Dimitri? Listen, I can't hear too well, do you suppose
you could turn the music down just a little? Oh, that's much better.
Yes. Fine, I can hear you now, Dimitri. Clear and plain and coming
through fine. I'm coming through fine too, eh? Good, then. Well then
as you say we're both coming through fine. Good. Well it's good that
you're fine and I'm fine. I agree with you. It's great to be fine.
(laughs) Now then Dimitri. You know how we've always talked about the
possibility of something going wrong with the bomb. The bomb, Dimitri.
The hydrogen bomb. Well now what happened is, one of our base
commanders, he had a sort of, well he went a little funny in the head.
You know. Just a little... funny. And uh, he went and did a silly
thing. Well, I'll tell you what he did, he ordered his planes... to
attack your country. Well let me finish, Dimitri. Let me finish,
Dimitri. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you
imagine how I feel about it, Dimitri? Why do you think I'm calling
you? Just to say hello? Of course I like to speak to you. Of course I
like to say hello. Not now, but any time, Dimitri. I'm just calling up
to tell you something terrible has happened. It's a friendly call. Of
course it's a friendly call. Listen, if it wasn't friendly, ... you
probably wouldn't have even got it. (...)
Alright, well, listen... who should we call? Who should we call,
Dimitri? The people...? Sorry, you faded away there. The People's
Central Air Defense Headquarters. Where is that, Dimitri? In Omsk.
Right. Yes. Oh, you'll call them first, will you? Uh huh. Listen, do
you happen to have the phone number on you, Dimitri? What? I see, just
ask for Omsk Information. I'm sorry too, Dimitri. I'm very sorry.
Alright! You're sorrier than I am! But I am sorry as well. I am as
sorry as you are, Dimitri. Don't say that you are more sorry than I
am, because I am capable of being just as sorry as you are. So we're
both sorry, alright? Alright."
Or Buster Keaton's silent films, here especially the marriage proposal
from the first part of The Navigator:
The Navigator (1924)
"This film included a classic scene filmed at Divisadero and Broadway.
Buster Keaton is a spoiled millionaire who was driven by his chauffeur
to his girlfriend's house in order to propose marriage. She lived
across the street! After being rejected, Keaton crossed the street to
walk home, saying that the long walk will do him good."
There are several classic situations in the following movie:
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
Almost any scene with stuttering, animal-loving Ken (Michael Palin)
could do to show a communication barrier. But the most suited might be
the one near the end when Ken wants to help Archie (John Cleese).
After he fails to communicate the important information, he finally
writes it down -- only to be able to speak fluent the minute Archie
leaves the room!
I hope this helps, and good luck with your presentation!
"life of brian" script
"dr. strangelove" script
"a fish called wanda" script
comedy movie "fails to communicate"