Major Shears (William Holden): You make me sick with your heroics! There’s a stench of death about you. 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 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.

Sony has just released THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI on Blu-ray and that got me thinking about this segment. Shears (Holden) escapes a Japanese POW camp, only to be forced to lead a group of commandos right back to the place where he endured hell. Holden does a fine job, but Sir Alec Guinness is brilliant as Col. Nicholson, a POW that leads his men to complete the construction of a bridge for the Japanese.

One day the war will be over. And I hope that the people that use this bridge in years to come will remember how it was built and who built it. Not a gang of slaves, but soldiers, British soldiers, Clipton, even in captivity.

Col Nicholson talking to another soldier.