The 10 Best Uses Of Swearing In Film

I flipped someone off today. It wasn’t big, clever, grown-up or if I’m honest totally necessary but fuck me it was satisfying. It was a favourite but rarely used manoeuvre that involved giving the digit to a fast receeding recipient behind me without looking round, best employed on a bike, a mixture of abject rudeness and arrogance that I’d love to claim as my own but is actually the trademark of Thurman Murman.

The chubby, sweet, pube-haired little cherub from Bad Santa spends the entire film on the receiving end of a barrage of insults and wedgies from his peers while getting blasted with profanity by a drunk, mean, indifferent bastard that’s the closest thing he’s got to a father figure (Billie Bob Thornton). And so when, at the very end, he slips on a ‘Shit Happens When You Party Naked’ t-shirt, kicks his aggressor in the balls, and flips the finger to camera while waddle-cycling into the sunset, it’s one of the most satisfying uses of swearing in film.

Well-executed cussing can elevate a scene no end. From the filthy lingo throughout Withnail And I and The Big Lebowski to the truly blue Sexy Beast and basically anything Joe Pesci’s ever been in (well, maybe not Home Alone), swearing can make a movie.

That said, I’m not a massive fan of the profane pile-ups; I prefer unexpected fucks or well-deserved cunts over rapid fire rudeness, and shits or arses that roll off the tongue with glee. So to speak. I have an in-law that only swears once in a blue moon but when he does deploy something naughty he does so with abject pleasure, forming the words slowly and carefully before unleashing them in long lazy syllables of x-rated joy.

Swearing needs to be done with panache and at precisely the right time for maximum impact. The more surprising, incongruous, random or driven by pure frustration the better in my book.

With that in mind, here’s some of my favourites. Let us know yours below.

Pulp Fiction
Famously half-inched by Fun Lovin’ Criminals for ‘Scooby Snacks’ in 1995, which bestowed a whole new level of greatness to it (because back then, when you were knee-high to Tom Cruise, FLC were cool, OK?), the opening scene still resonates with raw power. “If any of you fucking pricks move, I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you!” directly after, lest we forget, the line: “I love you honey bunny”.

Shaun Of The Dead
An eloquent one-liner if ever I heard one. Speaks for itself, really…

…As does Ron Burgundy’s message to the people of San Diego.

Trading Places
Another short, sharp, curt and to the point one.

In Bruges
One of the most devastating detonations of the c-bomb on celluloid comes from Brendan Gleeson during In Bruges. Delivered in a soft, almost whispered Irish accent by a smiling, rotund face surrounded by soft focus tungsten lights to what’s essentially the epitome of evil, it’s a fully blue tirade that sneaks up on you from nowhere. “Harry, lets face it, and I’m not being funny, I mean no disrespect, but you’re a cunt…” it begins, and it gets fruitier from there.

Glengarry, Glen Rosss
Fuck You, that’s my name” begins one of the best sweary rants in a film full of excellent sweary rants, “you know why mister? Cos you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight. I drove an 80,000 dollar BMW. That’s my name”. Brutal.

Team America
Finally, the best use of swearing in a song from a film, for me at least, goes to this joyous joint celebration of the U-S-A and the F word. “Walmart! Fuck yeah! Rock and roll! Fuck yeah! Slavery! Fuck yeah…

What’s your preferred profanity in film? Let us know and we’ll add in the best.