There’s an art to brilliant swearing. As any fan of Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It, Veep or In the Loop can tell you, foul-mouthed dialogue can be as eloquent and impressive as any flowery Shakespearean soliloquy. Indeed, the Bard himself loved a brutal insult. His characters were the Samuel L. Jacksons and Joe Pescis of their day.
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Swearing is in the spotlight thanks to a new Netflix series. Fronted by expert profanity practitioner Nicolas Cage, The History of Swear Words takes on six of the most popular epithets in the English language and explores their histories, etymologies and modern usage.
With that in mind, here are the 15 movies which deploy the most uses of “f**k” — the most versatile swear word we have — and its many derivatives.
15. Narc (2002)
Joe Carnahan’s neo-noir tale stars Ray Liotta and Jason Patric as a pair of detectives doing whatever it takes in order to get to the bottom of the murder of an undercover cop. The police milieu will come up a lot in this list, creating an environment of macho characters spouting expletives at quite an alarming rate. Narc packs 297 F-words into its 105 minute running time.
14. Goodfellas (1990)
Considered by many to be the peak of Martin Scorsese’s oeuvre, Goodfellas contains some of the most iconic swearing in movie history. Joe Pesci’s psychotic mobster Tommy DeVito is the cause of most of the profanity, not least in the unforgettable “funny how?” sequence. There are 300 uses of f**k and its variants over the course of the film, and nearly as many gallons of blood shed.
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13. Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat (2002)
Stand-up comedy movies often pack in the swearing, with Eddie Murphy special Raw holding the record for most F-words in a film ever when it was released in 1987. Notably, that movie doesn’t even make the top 15 more than 30 years later. Instead, the sweariest stand-up film ever is Martin Lawrence’s 2002 show Runteldat, which features 311 F-words.
12. Sweet Sixteen (2002)
Before he investigated police corruption as Sergeant Steve Arnott in Line of Duty, Martin Compston took on the lead role in this Ken Loach drama about a Scottish teenager hoping to set up a normal life for himself and his mother when she is released from prison.
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The film received wide acclaim and was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Its strong language though — 313 f**k variants and 20 C-words — earned it a controversial 18 certificate from the BBFC, which stood despite protests from Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty.
11. Twin Town (1997)
Scottish people might be notoriously sweary, but it seems the Welsh are at it too. Kevin Allen’s dark comedy follows real siblings Rhys and Llŷr Ifans as a pair of car thieves who seek compensation when their father is injured at work. Dougray Scott is also in the cast as a police officer. The film runs for just over 90 minutes, but manages to cram in 318 instances of the F-word.
10. One Day Removals (2008)
Another Scottish effort, this ultra low-budget comedy follows a pair of removal men — played by Patrick Wight and Scott Ironside — as they experience the worst day of their lives. In amongst the film’s rare use of the Doric Scots dialect — it’s the only movie which uses the particular regional tongue — there are 320 derivatives of the F-word.
9. End of Watch (2012)
Cops are again the focus of David Ayer’s gritty 2012 drama, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as cops dealing with trafficking gangs and cartels on the streets of Los Angeles. The movie focuses on the two officers as they drive from incident to incident, in which they liberally curse their way through life to the tune of 326 F-words over the course of the story.
8. Alpha Dog (2006)
Nick Cassavetes assembled a cast of rising young stars for his take on the real-life kidnapping and murder of Nicholas Markowitz. The talented ensemble includes Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Ben Foster, Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone, Olivia Wilde and the late Anton Yelchin. There are 367 uses of f***k in total, across this mostly forgotten Sundance thriller.
7. Casino (1995)
Martin Scorsese makes another appearance on this list thanks to another of his mammoth crime epics. This time around, Robert De Niro is at the centre of proceedings as the gambling expert employed to oversee proceedings at a Vegas casino.
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Joe Pesci is in the cast again, so naturally the swear words come thick and fast. There are 398 uses of f**k and its variants.
6. Nil By Mouth (1997)
Gary Oldman’s directorial debut is a hard-hitting tale of domestic violence, with Ray Winstone as the horrific brute who abuses his wife, played by Kathy Burke. The film received acclaim for its dangerous, unflinching feel and the exceptional performances at its heart. Given the intensity of it all, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Oldman hasn’t directed again since.
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With this level of realism, there naturally comes a high level of cursing. The movie almost certainly holds the record for most uses of the C-word and, when it comes to f**k, there are 428 uses.
5. Summer of Sam (1999)
Spike Lee’s 70s-set drama follows the residents of a New York neighbourhood reeling from the climate of fear around the killing spree of the serial killer now known as Son of Sam. Typically well-observed by Lee, it follows John Leguizamo and Adrien Brody as young men trying to make their way in the world. Everyone is very willing to turn the air blue and the result is 435 F-words in the movie.
4. Uncut Gems (2019)
The most recent entry on this list, this Adam Sandler starrer from the beginning of 2020 — it released in the USA in late 2019 — is so packed with cursing that Netflix even put out a supercut of the colourful epithets on show.
Read more: Uncut Gems and the best movies of 2020
Sandler is a seasoned swearer on the big screen anyway, but the stress of his diamond dealer’s chaotic life was always likely to lead to an onslaught of profanity. The movie features 560 F-words in total, at a rate of 4.15 f**ks-per-minute — the highest density of swearing in a film which is not explicitly about bad language.
3. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Martin Scorsese? Again? The Wolf of Wall Street is another of the maestro’s crime epics, this time focusing on the exploits of Jordan Belfort in the crooked world of high-stakes finance. Leonardo DiCaprio is an avalanche of bad taste in the lead role, and he also swears like a sailor after stubbing their toe. The supporting cast is not exempt either, with Jonah Hill’s status as Hollywood’s most prolific curser largely based on this one performance. There are 569 F-bombs in all, across three hours of movie time.
2. F**k (2005)
The most surprising thing about this entry on this list is that it isn’t in first place. As its title suggests, this is a documentary by Steve Anderson about the nature of the word f**k — much like the first episode of Cage’s new series. With the help of a series of famous guests and experts, Anderson dissects everything about the world’s favourite swear word. There are 857 f**ks over the course of the film’s running time, at a pretty astonishing rate of 9.21 curses per minute.
1. Swearnet: The Movie (2014)
When you’re making a film about the quest to create a fully uncensored internet network called Swearnet, it’s fair to say the word “f**k” is likely to show up quite often. The film sees the stars of the Canadian TV series Trailer Park Boys looking for a new and uncensored project due to being out of work. As a result, there are 935 F-words over the course of the movie — a rate of 8.35 per minute.
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