Need a movie to watch in high school speech class; educational/entertaining

Hello, my fellow dopers! It is back to school here in Indiana, and that means standardized testing galore. Now, as a teacher with mixed age classes, for four days I am losing 2/3 of each of my classes. We are not allowed to cover new material, or assign homework, so I am going with the movie option. I’d really like to show a movie that the kids would enjoy, but that would also have some educational value. I’ve always wanted to show “Wag the Dog;” but I am afraid the R rating won’t fly… I will have mostly juniors and seniors left… Any suggestions??








I’m hoping to find some movies that have a speech or public speaking type background…

I’d use Election (R. Witherspoon) if it were not for the sex and language… it does have campaign speeches, kids would enjoy it, probably not many have seen it.

Thanks for the ideas, though… I am using Masque in my Short Stories class.

Apollo 13

(history, problem solving, some good speechifying, rated PG)

The Candidate. 1972(PG). Robert Redford, Peter Boyle. Realistic, satirical look at politics and political campaigning. A young, idealistic lawyer is talked into trying for the Senate seat and learns the truth about running for office. Academy award for Best Story & Screenplay.

Rated 3 out of 4 ‘bones’ from VideoHounds Golden Movie Retriever

INHERIT THE WIND (the Jack Lemmon/George C. Scott remake is as good as the original, incidentally) B’way hit based (loosely) on historical incident with some still incendiary topics

AUNTIE MAME (not educational, but a 50 year old movie that’s still hysterical)

The BEST MAN (not the recent comedy but the 1964 movie based on Gore Vidal’s play)- two candidates for the presidency compete- one has a laudable private life but is politically corrupt, the other is politically honorable but is immoral in his private life.

My favorite sppech ever in a film came from Spencer Tracy at the end of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.

STG it puts a tear in my eye every time.

“Roman Holiday”! It has some public speaking in it! :slight_smile:
Also, I’m just curious whether a modern high school class would like “Roman Holiday”.

Thanks for all the suggestions… keep them coming! I have a couple of weeks to preview movies before “showtime.”

One of my colleagues always uses “Twelve Angry Men” to introduce the public speaking unit in her English class, and it seems to work very well as an intro to topics such as separating emotions from logic, body language, etc.

Well, my 13 yr old and 16 yr old sons loved it. Go figure.

“The American President” has some good (albeit short) public speaking moments in a political setting. I don’t know what it was rated; I think PG-13.

“Glory” has some public speaking moments – addressing troops, praying around a campfire, stuff like that – that are a little out of the ordinary. That may be a stretch for your purposes, but it’s a truly wonderful movie and eminently worthy to be shown in high school, in my opinion.

“To Kill A Mockingbird”, for obvious reasons
“12 O’Clock High”: all about principle, leadership, responsibility, peer pressure, group dynamics, etc.

The last episode of ROOTS: THE NEXT GENERATIONS. It’s basically a bio of Alex Haley (James Earl Jones) and follows him as the biographer of Malcolm X (Al Freeman, who gives a very different interpretation from Denzel Washington and who played X’s mentor turned enemy Elijah Muhammad in the Spike Lee movie), his playboy interview of American Nazi Party fuhrer George L. Rockwell (Marlon Brando), and finally the obsession with authenticating his family’s history that led him to Africa. (Haley’s own Playboy interview [which discusses how he slept naked in the hull of boats to research the role] as well as the interviews with Rockwell and X would be great tie-in reading.)

Branagh’s HENRY V- if the St. Crispin’s Day speech ain’t great public speaking, I don’t know what is.

PARADISE LOST: the Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills- a powerful and disturbing documentary about the West Memphis Three ( It has some gory crime scene photos, but a great film. It has a sequel as well.

Swimming to Cambodia - it’s educational, entertaining and consists of one long speach (or story… depending on how you look at it).

For a more G rated version of Wag the Dog you could try Duck Soup


It’s rated “R,” but that’s a 1985 “R”.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead would be great if you can find a copy. Tim Roth & Richard Dreyfuss are great in it, and it makes Hamlet just a bit more twisted than usual.


Not public speaking but the value of a good education is a main theme and it is a true story.

There is also Listen to Me which is about a college debate team but I never saw it and I understand it is a really bad movie.

Dead Poets Society?

Check out a little 29-minute work called “Why Man Creates”

Not so much speech or public speaking, but definitely communications-oriented.