The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai quotes

37 total quotes (ID: 684)

Cmdr. Shears
Col. Nicholson
Col. Saito
Maj. Clipton
Maj. Warden

Saito: Can you finish the bridge in time?
Nicholson: Frankly, the consensus of opinion is that it's impossible. But we'll certainly give it a go. After all, we mustn't forget that we've wasted over a month through an unfortunate disagreement for which I was not to blame.

Warden: Naturally, we're going to try to prevent them. It's too far for bombers to carry an adequate load so we shall have to go in and smash it up on the ground.
Shears: How are you going to get there?
Warden: Parachute drop and then march.
Shears: With demolition equipment through that jungle??
Warden: Yes. Our chief problem is lack of first-hand knowledge. You see, none of us have ever been there.
Shears: Well, I don't want to discourage you Major, but uh...
Warden: It should be interesting. Colonel Green has given me the Kwai Bridge. I'm gonna take a team in and blow it up.
Shears: Lucky you...Look Major, I don't want to be rude, but I've got a luncheon date in Colombo at two and she's beautiful, so if there are any questions...
Warden: ...Well, there is only one question, actually. How would you feel about going back?
Shears: Come again?
Warden: I know under the circumstances it's a bit much but you see, you do have a unique knowledge for our purpose, and we'd love to have you with us.
Shears: You mean to tell me that that's why you brought me here? To ask me this?
Warden: Oh frankly, yes.
Shears: Major, I just got out of there. My escape was a miracle. Even your people said so, and now you want me to go back. Don't be ridiculous.
Warden: All this is very embarrassing, I...
Shears: Oh let's stop kidding around. I can't go back. I don't belong to you. I belong to the American Navy.
Warden: Yes, of course. Colonel Green has already taken the matter up with your people.
Shears: With my people?
Warden: Yes. Your Navy's turned you over to us. The signal arrived yesterday morning from your C-in-C Pacific, authorizing your temporary transfer of duty to Force 316.
Shears: They can't do this to me.
Warden: I'm afraid they have. It was awfully difficult. I didn't know how to break it to you.
Shears: No, but they can't do this to me. I really mean it. My Navy's made a mistake...Look, I'm not a Navy Commander, I'm, I'm not even an Officer...No, the whole thing's a fake. I'm just an ordinary swab jockey second class...When the Houston sunk, I made it ashore with an officer, a real commander. Later, we ran into a Japanese patrol and he was killed. I figured it was just a matter of time before I was captured so...
Warden: you changed uniforms with a dead man.
Shears: I thought officers would get better treatment in prison camps.
Warden: Very sensible.
Shears: Not that it did me any good because at Saito's camp, the officers work along with the rest.
Warden: Yes, there's always the unexpected, isn't there?
Shears: I kinda got used to being a commander and so when I arrived here at the hospital, I took a look at the enlisted men's ward and I took a look at the officer's ward and I said to myself, 'Well, let's let it ride along for a while.' There were certain definite advantages.
Warden: Yes, I saw one of them on the beach.
Shears: Anyway, that's the whole story. And the point of it is that you can't use me. You want an officer for your team - an American Commander named Shears and he doesn't exist. When the Navy Brass learns the truth about me, they'll say: 'Send him home in arms for impersonating an officer,' or something like that. Once that happens, I've got it made.
Warden: Got it what?
Shears: Made...I'll apply for a medical discharge. I'll tell 'em that I impersonated an officer because I went off my rocker in the jungle. I'm getting worse, you know. Sometimes, I think I'm Admiral Halsey.
Warden: Well, it's quite a clever plan.
Shears: It's not only clever, it's foolproof. When my Navy finds out who I am, those temporary orders you got won't be worth the paper they're written on.

Warden: We've known about your actual rank for nearly a week. In one sense, you're a blasted hero for making an escape through the jungle. But at the same time, they can't very well bring you home and give you the Navy Cross for impersonating an officer, can they? I suppose that's why they were so happy to hand you over to us. You see?
Shears: Hot potato.
Warden: As far as your present rank is concerned, we're fairly informal about those things in Force 316. So you'll have a simulated rank of Major.
Shears: Simulated Major. That figures. Well, as long as I'm hooked, I might as well volunteer.

Nicholson: We're not going to finish the bridge on time...We haven't the manpower, that's all. I've asked the officers to lend a hand and they've agreed. But even that won't do it.
Clipton: You mean the officers are going to work on the bridge?
Nicholson: Yes. I explained the situation to them and they volunteered to a man, but it's not enough.
Clipton: Why didn't you ask Saito and some of his men?
Nicholson: Wouldn't dream of it! No, this is our show. We must make the most of our own resources. As a matter of fact, that's what I came to talk to you about. The sick list.

Warden: You'll go on without me. That's an order. You're in command now, Shears.
Shears: You make me sick with your heroics. There's a stench of death about ya. You carry it in your pack like the plague. Explosives and L pills. They go well together, don't they? And with you, it's just one thing or the other: 'Destroy a bridge or destroy yourself.' This is just a game, this war. You and that Colonel Nicholson, you're two of a kind. Crazy with courage. For what? How to die like a gentleman. How to die by the rules when the only important thing is how to live like a human being. I'm not going to leave you here to die, Warden, because I don't care about your bridge and I don't care about your rules. If we go on, we go on together.

Saito: Beautiful.
Nicholson: Yes, beautiful. A first-rate job. I had no idea it would turn out so well.
Saito: Yes, a beautiful creation.
Nicholson: I've been thinking. Tomorrow it will be twenty-eight years to the day that I've been in the service, twenty-eight years in peace and war. I don't suppose I've been at home more than ten months in all that time. Still, it's been a good life. I loved India. I wouldn't have had it any other way. But there are times when suddenly you realize you're nearer the end than the beginning. And you wonder, you ask yourself, what the sum total of your life represents. What difference your being there at any time made to anything. Hardly made any difference at all, really, particularly in comparison with other men's careers. I don't know whether that kind of thinking's very healthy, but I must admit I've had some thoughts on those lines from time to time. But tonight...tonight! Blast! I must be off. The men are preparing some sort of entertainment.

Joyce: Officer, sir. A British officer. We're here to blow up the bridge, sir!
Nicholson: Blow up the bridge?
Joyce: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. British commando orders, sir.
Nicholson: Blow up the bridge!?