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
Other


Saito: I do not think you quite realize my position. I must carry out my orders...My orders are to complete the bridge by the twelfth day of May. Time is short. I only have twelve weeks more...Therefore, I am compelled to use all available personnel.
Nicholson: But no officers, except in an administrative capacity.
Saito: But officers ARE working along the entire railway. You know it. I know it.
Nicholson: I'm not responsible for the actions of other commanding officers. Personally, I'm appalled.
Saito: Let's not get excited. Would you have a cigar?
Nicholson: No, thank you.
Saito: When I said: 'All officers must work,' naturally I never meant you - the commanding officer. My orders were only intended for officers below...
Nicholson: None of my officers will do manual labor!
Saito: PLEASE. I was about to say, I've been thinking the matter over and have decided to put majors and above in administrative duties, leaving only the duty officers to lend a hand.
Nicholson: I'm afraid not. The Convention's quite clear on that point.
Saito: Do you know what will happen to me if the bridge is not built on time?
Nicholson: I haven't the foggiest.
Saito: I'll have to kill myself. What would you do if you were me?
Nicholson: I suppose if I were you, I'd have to kill myself. Cheers! [He drinks the glass of Scotch]
Saito: I warn you, colonel. If I am to die, others will die before me. Do you understand that?
Nicholson: Major Clipton did mention something to that effect...That won't solve your problem. I'm sure we can arrive at the proper solution. Please sit down. Now, tell me, uh, Colonel. Do you or do you not agree that the first job of an officer is command?
Saito: Of course.
Nicholson: [standing and assuming superiority] This bridge of yours, it's quite an enormous undertaking, and to be frank, I have grave doubts whether your Lieutenant, what's his name?...Miura, is capable of tackling a job of such importance. On the other hand, I have officers, Reeves and Hughes for instance, who've built bridges all over India. The men respect them. It's essential for an officer to have that respect, I'm sure you agree. (If) he loses it, he ceases to command and what happens then? Demoralization and chaos. A pretty poor commander I would be if I allowed that to happen to my men.
Saito: Perhaps you are not aware that the bridge is now under my personal command.
Nicholson: Really? May I ask: 'Are you satisfied with the work?'
Saito: I AM NOT!
Nicholson: Proves my point.
Saito: [as he plunges the dinner knife into the tabletop] I hate the British. You are defeated, but you have no shame. You are stubborn, but have no pride. You endure, but you have no courage. Leave this place!
Nicholson: It's pointless going on like this.


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: ...so 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.

Nicholson: That man's [Saito] the worst commanding officer I've ever come across. Actually, I think he's mad...Blackmail...
Clipton: I know, sir. He means it. I'm sure he does. It's a question of face, pure and simple. He can't give in.
Nicholson: It's still blackmail.
Clipton: Sir, you can't stand much more of this. And wouldn't the officers be better off working than suffocating in that hole? The men are doing a wonderful job. They're going as slow as they dare. But Saito has cut their food rations. And if he makes the sick men work, well, they're going to die. That's all there is to it.
Nicholson: Yes Clipton, I understand, truly. But don't you see. It's a matter of principle. If we give in now, there'll be no end to it. No...I'm adamant. I will not have an officer from my battalion working as a coolie!

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.

Shears: Oh, I'd say the odds against a successful escape are about 100 to 1...But may I add another word, Colonel...The odds against survival in this camp are even worse. You've seen the graveyard. There you realize. You give up hope of escape. To even stop thinking about it is like accepting a death sentence.
Nicholson: Why haven't you tried to escape, Commander?
Shears: Oh, I've been biding my time, waiting for the right moment, the right company.
Nicholson: I understand how you feel. Of course, it's normally the duty of a captured soldier to attempt escape. But my men and I are involved in a curious legal point of which you are unaware. In Singapore, we were ordered to surrender by Command Headquarters, ordered, mind you. Therefore, in our case, escape might well be an infraction of military law. Interesting?
Dr. Clipton: Yes, interesting point.
Shears: I'm sorry sir. I didn't quite follow you. You mean you intend to uphold the letter of the law, no matter what it costs.
Nicholson: Without law, Commander, there is no civilization.
Shears: Well see, that's my point. Here, there is no civilization.
Nicholson: Then, we have the opportunity to introduce it. I suggest that we drop the subject of escape.

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!?

Madness!...Madness! Madness!

Nicholson: I heard your remarks just now sir. I can assure you, my men will carry on in the way one expects of the British soldier. And naturally, my officers and I will be responsible for their conduct. Now sir, you may have overlooked the fact that the use of officers for manual labor is expressly forbidden by the Geneva Convention.
Saito: Is that so?
Nicholson: I happen to have a copy of the Convention with me and would be glad to let you glance through it if you wish.
Saito: That will not be necessary.

Nicholson: I want everything to go off without a hitch starting first thing tomorrow morning. And remember this: our men must always feel they are still commanded by us and not by the Japanese. So long as they have that idea to cling to, they'll be soldiers and not slaves.
Shears: I hope they can remain soldiers, Colonel. As for me, I'm just a slave, a living slave.

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.

Radio Transmission: One: Original bridgeworks reported abandoned. New construction downstream from first site. Two: Enemy intends to open railway with passage of special train, Bangkok to Rangoon with troops and VIP estimated to arrive target, AM, 13th. Three: You should synchronize demolition with pass of this train. Four: Good hunting. Have fun.

Saito: You speak to me of code. What code? The coward's code. What do you know of the soldier's code? Of bushido? Nothing. You are unworthy of command.
Nicholson: Since you refuse to abide by the laws of the civilized world, we must consider ourselves absolved from our duty to obey you. My officers will not do manual labor.
Saito: We shall see. All English present prisoners to work!

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: 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.

Saito: Enlisted prisoners sabotaged the work. I have seen it. I could have them all shot.
Clipton: Then, who would build your bridge? Besides, are you sure it is sabotage? Perhaps the men don't work well without their own officers to direct them.
Saito: My officers will direct them. Your officers will work beside them.
Clipton: That's for Colonel Nicholson to decide. As he pointed out, it's against the rules.
Saito: Do not speak to me of rules. This is war. This is not a game of cricket. He's mad, your Colonel. Quite mad.