The Small Back Room (1949) Movie Script

Excuse me.
This is Park Lane House?
The assignments are ready, Major.
No, no, no. Fill in all 15 forms
and resubmit... in triplicate.
- My name is Stuart. I have an appointment with Professor Mair.
- Captain Stuart, sirl
The professor is expecting you, sir.
Come this way, sir, if you please.
- Turn seven, miss.
- All right, Sergeant Major.
Professor Mair, sir.
Excuse me, sir.
I think there's some...
somebody at the door.
Mmm. Ask him to come in.
Come in!
Captain Stuart, sir.
All right, Sergeant Major.
Oh, I'm sorry, sir.
You better sit down.
Yes, Taylor. I think you're right.
- I think you're right.
- Thank you, sir.
Professor Taylor's my star pupil with fuses.
Eh, Taylor?
Well, what can we do for you and Strang?
Well, sir, it's a bit top secret, sir.
Oh. Leave us, will you, Taylor?
We'll go on with that later.
- Unless you want to get home.
- Oh... Oh, no, sir.
- Quite sure your wife won't mind?
- No, sh-she'll be all right, sir.
Taylor, put the light on, will you?
SoJerry's dropping
a new secret weapon, is he?
So secret...
we don't know what it is...
or whether he is dropping it or not.
- You got one with you?
- I wish I had.
What I really want, sir,
is a bit of expert guessing...
and some expert advice on how to handle it
when we get our hands on one.
Sammy Rice is your man.
That you, Susan?
Send Sammy up, will you?
- He's gone, Professor Mair.
- Pity.
- Shall I try to round him up?
- Yes.
I'm sending a Captain Stuart down.
Try and get him together
with Sammy tonight, will you?
- I'll try.
- And send up old Taylor.
Professor Mair wants you, Taylor.
- Can I come in?
- Captain Stuart?
I'm just ringing Mr. Rice's flat.
Thank you.
There's always something wrong
with this line.
One more chance.
Check here for a bottle ofbrandy. Okay, guv?
I don't care if he is Free French. You gotta pay
cash like everybody else. The Lord Nelson.
- Hello. Is Mr. Rice there?
- Oh, is that you, Miss Susan? Yes, he's here.
- He's there.
- Where?
- I'll take you.
- I say, that's awfully nice of you.
It's not far out of my way.
- Don't let him go, Knucksie. I'm picking him up.
- Trust me.
When can we discuss that, Mr. Moran?
- We'll get around to it.
- Oh!
- I'm dry, Mr. Moran.
- Hey, steam engine's dry. Miles.
- "Propritaire. "
- Hey, Knucksie.
- Hey, Dolly.
- Okay, let's have a drinkl
Message for ya.
She says you're to wait.
How's the foot?
- Which one?
- The tin one.
I saw you kicking at it just now.
Yeah. Well, I've gotta do something.
I can't take it off in here, can I?
- Tried dope?
- You won't give me the dope I need.
No more whisky for you, Mr. Rice.
Not in my bar.
- You can't take whisky.
- No, don't go, Knucksie. Stay and talk.
Mr. Rice, how can I?
Knucksie, whisky or conversation.
One or the other,
or I start to break the place up.
Miss Susan will be here in a minute.
Pardon, mum.
Captain Stuart, Mr. Rice.
- Drink?
- Well, uh...
- I know her tipple.
- Bitter for me.
- The usual, Knucksie, and a bitter.
- Right.
- Mair sent him on to you.
- Oh.
What's it all about?
I'm sober.
It's a bit hush-hush.
All right.
How about my flat?
I'll make you some coffee.
- Well, put me in the picture.
- Yes.
I know it's all a lot of rot, but, um...
Is, uh... Is this what you want?
Well, what's happened is
a kid's been killed in an explosion.
Found a dart
and hit it with a hammer?
We don't think it was quite like that.
We think the kid may have
simply picked it up...
or perhaps only touched it.
Well, why all the cloak-and-dagger stuff?
Accidents do happen in wartime.
- It's hardly in our line.
- We don't think this was an accident.
It's the fourth this week.
And always afterJerry planes
have been over.
You mean they're dropping booby traps?
- Looks like it.
- And always kids?
Three kids and a man.
That's odd it should have been kids
three times out of four.
I expect the blasted things are
mocked up as teddy bears or candy bars.
- More?
- No, thanks.
Jerry has a lovely mind.
- No witnesses or survivors?
- No.
- What, nothing at all?
- Well, we did find something.
Oh, come on. Spill it.
After the last incident.
It was in the area of the explosion.
- Sammy!
- What?
- Who knows what's in it?
- I do.
Soup. Or coffee.
It's a thermos.
- That's right.
- Oh! I need some coffee.
It fooled a lot of people.
Not you.
It's a Jerry type thermos.
Probably fell out of the aircraft when they
jettisoned the other thing, whatever that is.
- Well, there's only one thing to do if you want me in on this.
- I do.
Get me in early. Next time it happens,
send me a wire. I'll come, wherever it is.
I'll take you up on that.
Well, I better be moving.
Come back to the local
and have a drink.
No, I must go.
I'm sorry. I don't keep any stuff here.
We're keeping this one for, uh...
V- day.
- No, really, I've got to get back.
- All right. I'll get your coat.
- Can I take you home?
- You have.
I live across the hall.
I could put you up
on the settee if you like.
Thanks. I'd sooner get out of town.
- The raids get me down.
- Oh, you get used to 'em, like toothache.
I hate toothaches.
Well, there's nothing like taking a nice
quiet bomb apart to steady the nerves.
- Good-bye.
- Good-bye.
- Mind how you go down the stairs.
It's a bit dark there. Good-bye, old man.
- Nice chap.
- Mmm.
Oh, dear.
- You know, it's awful about the children.
- Mmm.
Well, if we can get hold of one
of those things and have a look at it...
we can see what it was like
and we could broadcast a warning.
But, Sammy, how would you tackle it?
Oh, damn.
You'll have the warden after you.
Is it hurting?
Not more than usual.
Why don't you take it off?
- Have you taken your dope?
- No.
This dope the doctor gives me
doesn't do my foot any good.
It makes me feel bad.
That noble remedy,
on the other hand...
doesn't do me any good either.
But at least it leaves me not caring
whether it hurts or not.
Would you like a whisky, Sammy?
Mmm. I would.
Why don't you take the thing off?
- You know that helps.
- No.
You do when you're alone.
Why will you keep it on when I'm here?
It's all right now.
Ohl Look. Look.
- Can we have another?
- Yes, sir.
- Ready with another one, Jack?
- Yes, okay.
- You reducing the charge?
- Yes, we'll put it down to 60 grams this time, sir.
- Think that'll be better? - I
think so. Yes. - How's your shoulder?
- What is the, uh, muzzle velocity?
- 1,500, sir.
Now I suppose you people will send in a report
saying the Reeve's gun is a marvelous weapon.
- Depends on the figures.
- Stop playing with figures, my boy.
- Learn something about soldiering.
- Fire.
- He's on the target all right.
- Yes, in 20 seconds.
- What we need is 10 rounds a minute.
- Fresh target.
- You don't like the Reeve's, I gather.
- Heaven make me patient.
- Have you ever fired at a tank?
- Not in anger.
Well, they move, don't they?
They crawl about. They-They zigzag.
- They don't like being shot at.
- You think the Reeve's is difficult to handle?
- Are you ready?
- I think the sort of chap we have to use...
- couldn't get a moving tank in his sights in a week.
- Firel
- Good man.
- Come on. I've seen enough.
Can't quite understand your outfit.
What do you call yourselves?
I don't think we call ourselves anything.
We're just Professor Mair's research section.
- Well, who do you come under?
- Nobody.
Professor Mair's got a lot of contacts, of course.
He's an old friend of the minister's.
I know that, but you haven't got
any establishment...
or terms of reference or anything...
anything old-fashioned like that?
Not as far as I know.
We just tackle any job we're given.
You know, this thing's spreading.
The country's crawling...
with this and that
chap's research outfit.
They don't belong to anybody.
They don't report to anybody.
- Do you?
- No.
No responsibility and lots of power.
It's not right, you know.
It's not right.
- Got any service personnel?
- Yes. A few.
I don't know how it's done.
- Morning, Crowhurst.
- Morning, sir.
Morning, Mr. Rice, sir.
Mr. Waring's been agitating for you, sir.
Thank you, Sergeant Major.
Hello, Madeleine?
Hello, darling. Sammy's just got in.
No. No, it's hardly out of my way at all.
I'll get it. Yes, of course I will.
Till, will you stop that filthy row,
for Pete's sake. Hello, darling?
It's Till on that ghastly robot of his.
- There's an extraordinary thing here, Sammy.
- Really, darling?
- Has the Reeve's report come in yet?
- On your desk. Yes, darling.
- Yes?
- You know those penetration of armor plate figures that E.W.E. Sent us?
Well, there's a positive correlation between
penetration and the height of each man firing.
Easy. The taller the man, the more rarefied
the atmosphere, and the less the air resistance.
- All right, darling.
- You think that might be it?
Would be if they hadn't all been lying down.
Oh, they were lying down, were they?
- Yes.
- Oh. How much do you want of it. Hmm?
- How on earth did you manage to get their heights anyway?
- Thought they might be interesting.
How do you spell it?
Spell it, darling.
No, of course I've got time.
How was the Reeve's?
Oh, so-so.
Let's get the figures out, Tilly, and we'll see.
- I'd better have a complete analysis.
- Aha.
Sorry, darling. I must go now.
Tea's up. Bye.
Well, I'll be...
- What's the idea of the partition?
- Inner sanctum.
- "R.B. Waring" on the outer door. "State your
business to the secretary," et cetera.
- How'd he fiddle the permit?
- Don't ask me.
Is he inside?
With four telephones and furniture
to match and a third of my window.
Pretty mean.
Free for lunch?
- Busy day?
- You bet.
Not a moment has been wasted from
R.B. Waring's point of view.
- He'll be bagging a carpet next.
- He's got one.
Come in.
Oh, hello, Sammy. Want me?
No, but I've got to have you.
Well, you've gone very grand.
Well, I got fed up with
working off kitchen tables.
Look at the conditions you all
work under. It makes me wild.
Well, it was darn nice of you to get yourself
all this stuff for my sake... and Susan's.
Go on, you bitter old devil. You know
you don't care where you work, but the...
sales side has to impress people.
Our Sue will tell you that.
You'll be carrying an umbrella next.
You know, Sammy...
young Sue's a remarkable woman.
This is a beautiful job.
But I need three copies at once.
One for the minister,
one to Professor Mair and one to me...
all marked "most secret,"and there's
a note to go with the minister's too.
As quick as you can.
How long will that take?
Three hours,
if I don't go to lunch.
Well, must you?
- Girls do eat.
- Well, can't you send out for something?
I tell you what I'll do.
I'll buy you some tulips for your desk.
- Yellow ones?
- Enormous yellow ones.
All right.
There's a good girl.
You see, Sammy?
Everybody's got a price.
Now tell me about the Reeve's.
Good show?
- Oh, moderately.
- What did you think of it?
- Till will need a few days on the figures.
- Oh, figures. How'd you like it?
- Plenty of snags.
- Oh, it's not perfect yet. Needs cleaning up. That's easy.
- Holland took against it too.
- Well, luckily the thing's been sold above Holland's level.
- Sold?
- Yes, I made the old man take me round to see the minister, and I put it across to him.
- He's all steamed up.
- What'd you sell it to him on?
What the stars foretell for this week...
or just intuition?
- No, the idea's right.
- It may be, if the figures say what we want.
- They'll have to. After what I told his nibs.
- What do you mean they'll have to?
Now look here, Sammy.
Don't let yourself be impressed by soldiers.
I've noticed that whenever we disagree
with the military we're always right...
except that they have to use the stuff
and trust their lives to it and we don't.
Medals have an emotional appeal
for you, Sammy.
Now mark my words.
Nobody gets medals for having brains.
- Holland has brains.
- Oh.
- Ganglia. Antennae. I wouldn't put it higher than that.
- And he knows his job.
Oh, Lord, how sick I am of these people
who know their jobs.
Except you and me, Sammy.
Except you and me.
Look. Look.
Morning, Lascomb.
Hello, Dibley. How are you?
Morning. How are you?
- Morning, Mr. Pinker. Very well, thank you.
- Good. Waiter.
- Yes, sir?
- Is the saddle still on?
- Yes, sir.
- Right, I'll have it, and, uh...
oh, a thick soup,
pint of Hollistry, please.
- Very good, sir.
- Hello, Sammy.
Hello, Pinker. Sit down.
Well, how's everything going
with the back room boys?
- Have we won the war yet?
- Nobody tells me anything.
Well, I think I've made
a substantial contribution today.
- Godshall is going.
- You fired him.
Body was riddled with bullets.
You know, we need
a new permanent secretary.
Higgins is a dear good soul,
but there's a war on.
- Well, why don't you just fire him too?
- He's on the list.
I'm having a drink with, uh...
with the minister's principal
private secretary's cousin tomorrow.
I shall drop a little poison in his ear.
- Gangster stuff.
- No orchids. Master Higgins.
- That boy Waring.
- Well, what about him?
- Moving in very high society suddenly.
- Yes.
And old man Mair.
I hope he isn't going political.
That was a good outfit of yours
when it started.
Well, what's wrong with it now?
Is the Reeve's gun any good?
- What do you know about the Reeve's?
- I know Mair and Waring saw the minister about it.
I suppose you were under the table.
You'd be surprised.
Look. You like old Mair, don't you?
- Mmm.
- Yes.
- I'm very fond of him.
- Grand old man of science and all that.
But have you ever thought where your section
would be if there was a change of minister?
Why? Are you gonna have him fired too?
Does, uh, Mair want a knighthood?
- No, I shouldn't think so.
- Well, then who wants what?
Come on. It's pretty obvious
that somebody wants something.
Who's the ambitious boy? Waring?
You're all right. Everybody knows that.
You're the brains of the outfit.
Waiter. The bill.
Bertha, give the bill to
my civil service friend, will you?
Yes, Mr. Rice. John.
- What are you getting at?
- Sammy...
I want you to meet
a very important man... tonight.
Uh-uh. Not tonight.
Never on a Wednesday night.
I have a very important conference
every Wednesday night at the Hickory Tree.
- Waiter!
- Sir?
Oh, never mind.
- I thought you were never coming.
- I didn't leave the office until 8:00.
- What's wrong, Sammy?
- Nothing. But you know how I hate being alone.
- Well, did R.B. Cough up the tulips?
- Oh, yes. He's a man of his word.
- What did you do with them?
- Put them on my desk.
What else should I do with them?
Couldn't find it in your heart to slap his face
sometime when he does that stuff, could you?
- I can't afford luxuries.
- You could get another job.
Would you rather I did?
He doesn't paw or anything.
I should hope not.
So should I.
But, you see, darling,
he doesn't know about us.
you could have
such a good time without me.
I take things from you
with both hands.
I always have...
and I always will.
I keep kicking this foot of mine, and...
when I have a bad patch,
I like someone to flutter around...
so that I can be
a perfect swine to them.
And you seem to like it.
But one of these days
you're going to get tired of it.
And when you do...
I want you to be able to put the whole thing
in the wastepaper basket...
and forget about it in 10 seconds.
Wouldn't it be silly to break up
something we both like doing...
only because you think I don't like it?
You've got it all worked out
in the way women always have.
They don't worry about anything
except being alive or dead.
And being dead to them
means beginning to smell.
Yes. You take it,
and you make what you want of it.
I don't know why we trouble
to come out at all, Sue.
Let's have an economy campaign
and stay in for a few weeks.
I'll take you up on that.
Hello. I say, our last economy
campaign's not finished yet.
I could have told you that.
- Quick. Talk to me.
- Why? Who is it?
It's Gillian. She's an incendiary bomb.
"'I never nursed a dear gazelle,
to glad me with its soft black eye. "' Um...
- "'And when it came to know me well... "'
- "'... and love me, it was sure to die. "'
Why, Suel Fancy meeting you here
after all these years.
Well, I am surprised.
How are you, darling?
Darling, this is Norval.
Norval, do come here.
You must know each other.
- Norval, this is Sue.
- How do?
How do you do?
Mr. Rice.
- How do you do?
- How do you do?
What a piece of luck,
dropping on you, darling.
I simply dragged Norval here.
You see, he's a simply whizzer dancer...
and has the foulest contempt for any
ordinary two-footed person like little me.
Susan's the best dancer I know.
It would be good for you to dance
with anyone as good as Susan, you snake.
- Care to?
- I don't think so. Thanks.
Oh, but, darling.
Darling, you must dance with Norval.
Dancing with Norval is an experience.
He's marvelousl He isl Really.
Go on, Sue. One shouldn't miss
experiences like that.
- I don't dance.
- Not at all?
I'm a long-distance sitter-out.
They make a perfect pair, don't they?
Why don't you dance, Mr. Rice?
It's very easy.
- Too old and too lazy.
- It'll be nice for Susan.
- A lot of things would be nice for Susan.
- But you ought to dance.
Men and women are all the same
when they dance.
Crowhurst! Crowhurst!
Come on, Sammy. We've only got a few minutes.
I've sent Rose out for some whisky.
You know, there isn't even a drink in the place.
Old Mair couldn't sell life insurance to a ghost.
- I'll ring you back.
- Don't tell me the commission's coming.
Commission? What commission?
The minister's coming.
He'll be here at any minute.
The old man's bringing him.
Now you've got to put on a show, Sammy.
Find something he'll understand.
- You gonna have the cap in, sir?
- Yes, I think so.
- A bit queer, isn't it, sir?
- He won't know any different.
Do you think it'll, uh,
amuse the m-m-minister, sir?
Sure to. Probably never
heard of a photoelectric cell.
Uh, sh-shall we clean up, sir?
No. Put out all the fuses you've got.
The more the merrier.
- What's that for?
- Mair's office. My tulips.
- This one too.
- I've mocked up that phony experiment for you, Sammy.
Oh, thanks. Till, come and be the minister.
Ask some intelligent questions.
Oh. That looks very nice, Mr. Rice.
Uh, what, uh, is it?
Now this, Mr. Minister, is part of
some experiments we're carrying out...
- to produce a new gas by a
process of distillation. - Mm-hmm.
Now I can quite easily demonstrate
its efficacy for you by...
placing a piece of ordinary
cotton wool in this bowl.
Oh, come on, Tilly.
Play up. Take an interest.
And then you will see that by the addition
of just one drop of this liquid...
it becomes instantly combustible.
Ooh! I say. He ought to love that.
It's a shame we haven't a few paper chains
and a bunch of mistletoe for the old boy.
Hey! Here they come!
Uh, this way, Minister.
Very good. You know,
you get a bottle of wine there.
I always think that helps nowadays.
Ah. Good morning, gentlemen.
So these are the back room boys, eh?
- Yes. This is where all the work is done.
- Yes. Not very luxurious, is it?
Still, I always say the barer the room
the better the work.
- I must remember that.
- It was the best we could get.
Oh, that looks nice.
What's that?
- That, uh, well...
- Sammy, what is this?
Oh, this, Mr. Minister, is part of a series
of experiments we're conducting...
to produce a new gas,
uh, by a process of distillation.
I can demonstrate its efficacy
for you quite easily...
by placing a piece of ordinary
cotton wool in this bowl.
And, uh, then you'll see that by the addition
of just one single drop of this liquid...
Uh, I shouldn't stand
quite so close, if I were you, sir.
Uh, it becomes immediately combustible.
- Oh, that's funny.
- Oh, well, I expect you'll get it right soon.
That's better.
- Uh, do you mind, Minister?
- No, no. Carry on. Carry on.
- Professor Mair's research section.
- Is that you, darling?
Is that you, Joe?
I want to talk toJoe.
Wrong number.
- Oh, that's a Cambridge spark galvanometer.
- Oh, Cambridge. Yes.
Oh, and that little monster...
is that another invention of yours?
Oh, no, no, no.
That's an electric calculating machine.
- Does sums, sir.
- Oh, really, really.
Oh, well, we must give it something to do.
Uh, divide, uh, 5162 by, um, eight.
That's 645.25, sir.
Oh, yes, but you mustn't keep a dog
and bark yourself, you know.
Check it up. Check it up.
Oh, I say. That's really first class.
I must have a go at this.
Uh, now then, let's give it
something really difficult.
- One by 17.
- Is that difficult?
Oh, well, we can soon see.
You have to clear it first, sir.
You set up one there,
and you bang out 17 there.
Press that, sir.
- .05, sir.
- .05882352941.
- And all from one.
- Extraordinary.
I wonder if you'd mind
writing that down for me.
I should like to take it home to my wife.
They like it so much, you know,
if you take a real interest.
- There you are, Minister.
- Oh, thank you very much.
I wish you could invent me something
that would write speeches. Good ones.
Ah, yes.
Or answer questions in the House for you.
Yes, that'd be even better.
Well, it's been most interesting.
Thank you so much, gentlemen.
Most interesting.
Uh, oh.
I was with the prime minister last night.
I thought perhaps you'd
like to know he's, uh, very confident.
I'll tell you another place
where they give you a very good meal.
- Now, if you mention...
- Oh, no. This way, Minister.
Yes, yes, yes.
- Hello?
- Hello, darling!
- Hello, Madeleine, darling.
- Joe, was that you just now?
No. Of course it wasn't me.
A minister of the crown...
and he's never seen
a calculating machine before.
- I saw Pinker at lunch.
- He's a gremlin.
- Says the minister's on his way out.
- Nonsense.
Let them off first, please.
What if he does go?
Pretty obvious, isn't it?
- You know, if the minister goes, the old man goes.
- Well, you don't have to go too.
But I like working for him. It wouldn't
be the same working for anyone else.
You could do it as well
as anyone else... better.
- I couldn't run a fruit machine.
- Oh, you say so. I say you could.
Darling, I'm sorry.
Let's stand.
I can't sit any longer.
I must have a drink.
Ask me to have a drink, woman.
Have a drink, Sammy.
No, thanks, Susan.
I'll have some of my nice medicine.
Do you want dinner?
Do you?
Let it ring.
Hello, Snowball.
It's like a nasty, vicious little man.
It's like Pinker.
Who cares?
Oh, Sammy, it might be Stuart.
Oh, blast.
Blast and blast.
- Yes?
- Telegrams.
- Yes.
- Telegram for Rice.
- Yes.
- Message reads:
"Bala, B-A-L-A, North Wales,
as soon as you can.
Signed Stuart. "
- Shall I repeat that?
- No, thanks. You've done the damage.
- Pardon?
- Granted.
Oh, Sue.
Where on earth is Bala?
That's the place up there, sir.
Mr. Rice, Dr. Ellis.
Very glad to meet you, Mr. Rice.
Very glad indeed.
Who is he?
- Field gunner.
- Pretty young.
Only 19, Mr. Rice.
Poor boy. Poor boy.
Is he badly hurt?
Lord, yes.
The only wonder is he's still alive.
He's as near dead as a human being
can be and still be alive. Yes, indeed.
Has he told you anything yet?
He was conscious for two minutes last night
and another few seconds this morning.
- Were you with him all night?
- Only thing to do.
- Any chance, Doctor?
- No, no. He's fading out. Just fading out.
Extraordinary he's lasted so long.
Extraordinary thing,
the human body.
- Yes, indeed.
- How much has he told you?
The thing was lying in the heather.
It was a cylinder about 18 inches long
and a few inches in diameter.
It looked just like a big flashlight.
Some of it was black
and some bright red.
I didn't get that bit very clear,
but it was certainly plastic.
Did he pick it up?
He hasn't said yet.
I don't think he heard my questions.
He said he first wanted
to leave it alone and report it.
The rest of his battery
were waiting for him on the road.
And then he was afraid
he'd be laughed at as a sissy.
Go and turn in. I'll watch.
What do we ask him,
if we get the chance?
Sooner or later we'll get one of
these things to play with.
We must know
some of the things not to do.
Did he pick it up
or put his hand near it?
And if he picked it up,
was it by the end or by the middle?
Here you are, Captain Stuart.
Look, old man. Did you pick it up?
Did you pick it up?
Try to tell us. It's very important.
Did you pick it up, old man?
Can I do any harm now?
- No.
- Peterson, open your eyes and listen to me!
Did you pick the thing up,
or did you not?
Come on now. Tell me.
Did you pick it up?
- Come on. Speak up, man.
- Yes.
You did?
By the end or by the middle?
By the end or by the middle?
- I think he's dead.
- Aye. He's gone.
You got something
of what you wanted?
Excuse me.
Go with him, Mr. Rice.
He... He's had enough.
Aye. Enough indeed.
Hello, Sammy.
Hello, Sue.
Got good ears, haven't you?
Got to have anything,
you better have them good.
How'd you get on?
Drew a blank. No sleep, no soap,
no towel, no breakfast.
- I'm just going to make tea.
- Good.
Stuart all right?
- Why? Interested?
- I like him.
- He's got guts.
- And bright blue eyes.
And two feet.
Now you're six years old.
Don't like it.
- Is Taylor in yet?
- Oh, he's just come in, sir.
Out, you. Excuse me, sir.
- Could I have a word with you in confidence?
- Of course.
It's about Taylor, sir.
He's been very idle lately. I'm afraid we're
gonna have a bit of trouble with him, sir.
- Trouble with Taylor?
- Trouble at home, sir.
Oh, I see.
- You mean his wife.
- I thought I ought to report it, sir.
- Are you sure that's what it is?
- Why, it's all over the place.
Drink and men and so on.
You know, Taylor's
a very innocent chap, sir.
Mmm. I saw her once.
Must say, she didn't look much like
the vicar's daughter.
Just what I said to myself, sir.
I took one look at her,
and I said, "Hello. "
Sidney, Sergeant Major Rose
would like a word with you.
Yes, sir.
Taylor. I'd like your opinion
as a fuse king.
Y- Yes, sir.
Sit down.
- Thank you, sir.
- If you wanted to blow me up...
and you were going to use, um...
that as a booby trap,
what sort of fuse would you use?
Oh, there are s-s-several
things I could do, sir.
A simple clock, of course.
It might go off
while I was out of the room.
Hmm. W-Would you be
I- likely to touch it, sir?
I might.
It could be arranged...
so that the I...
lifting of the lid operated the fuse, sir.
That could be either...
ooh, electrical...
or m... me... mechanical
or c-chemical.
Yes, but suppose I won't lift the lid.
Well, what I should do...
is use a t-t-trembler, sir.
That'd work as soon as you
m- m-moved the box.
Otherwise, a-a pho... photoelectric cell.
Only, of course, this thing
w- wouldn't be large enough.
Could you fix it so that you could throw it
through the window and it'd go off later?
Uh, could you fudge up a photoelectric fuse
in a thing a little larger in size...
that'd work any way up
and not be damaged by dropping it?
W- Way up. Yes.
Damage is no problem.
S... Space a little doubtful.
I see.
All right. Thank you, Taylor.
Any... Anything else, sir?
Yes. Is there anything wrong with you?
I understand you're having
a certain amount of trouble at home.
- Y-Yes, sir.
- Your wife's not happy?
That's right, sir.
Anything I can do?
No, I don't think so.
- Thank you, sir.
- You sure?
Uh, quite s-s-sure, sir.
- Well, unless, uh...
- Unless what?
Well, if... if you w-w-wouldn't mind, sir...
if I could get away
a f-few minutes early s-sometimes.
Sh-Sh-Sh-She's all on her own,
you see, sir, and...
if I could...
get away a bit early, sir.
Yes, of course.
I'll tell Sergeant Major Rose.
- Today?
- Oh, n-no, sir.
N- Not on a W... Wednesday, sir.
I'm darned if I will.
At the third stroke...
it will be 7:53 and 10 seconds.
What's the use?
Oh, Sammy.
Thanks for all your help!
Where are you going, Sammy?
I did try to ring up.
There's something wrong with the line.
- Oh, to hell with the line!
- You didn't drink any, did you?
No, I didn't drink any.
I thought we agreed
never to work late on Wednesdays.
But, darling, it's Tuesday.
- Tuesday?
- Tuesday, the 23rd of March.
I ought to know. I've typed it all day.
Taylor said it was Wednesday.
- What day is it?
- Day? Monday.
- But yesterday was Monday.
- Why ask then?
Where were you going, Sammy?
I don't know.
A woman?
How about me?
Gentlemen, I have called this meeting
on the minister's instructions...
to clear up the position
of the Reeve's gun.
- There have been extensive
demonstrations and experiments.
The question is now
what have those experiments shown...
and what are we going to do about it?
That's all I have to say.
Now you talk and I'll listen.
Professor Mair?
The Reeve's gun, Mr. Chairman...
is one of the most promising
developments I've seen...
from some points of view.
But that's only an opinion.
I should like to hear other people
before being dogmatic.
Um, we don't like the Reeve's,
Mr. Chairman.
You don't?
It has a lot of snags
from the user point of view, and, uh...
we don't think it has sufficient
advantages to offset them.
That's an infernal noise going on here.
One could do with a course of lip reading
at these meetings.
Well, of course,
that's just the question.
What is the balance of advantage
and disadvantage?
Mr. Chairman.
It might be of interest to the meeting
to hear the views...
of the National
Scientific Advisory Council...
for which I have the honor
to be chairman.
The National Scientific Advisory Council...
For which he has the honor to be chairman.
Is the body officially deputed
by the cabinet...
to offer advice
on all major scientific issues.
There are so many overlapping
and uncoordinated research organizations...
it was felt that science should speak
with one authoritative voice.
I need hardly add that our opinion
upon the Reeve's gun...
was not requested
until very late in the day.
Having been requested, however, my colleagues
and I approached this development...
purely as scientists.
As if everyone else had approached it
as income tax inspectors.
A select committee was formed,
and every facility was afforded us.
- Our conclusion was that,
scientifically speaking...
It was not a sound conception.
Not at all a sound conception.
In fact, I go further...
and say that no scientist
could possibly feel happy...
about many of the principles involved.
I'm interested to hear that, Mr. Chairman...
because from our unscientific point of view,
that's what we thought.
Just what scientific principles
do you think are unsound?
We're talking about
different sorts of principles.
We didn't like it
because it had user snags.
Perhaps Mr. Brine could tell us who were
his colleagues on this select committee.
Professor Charn, Dr. Golder
and Dr. Peace.
One crystallographer...
one vital statistician...
one embryologist and, uh...
Dr. Brine is, of course, one of the best-known
organic chemists in the kingdom.
Good. Now we know where we are.
No love lost between these back room boys.
By the way, your committee did see
the gun firing, I take it.
We were not actually present
at the trials.
But you saw the gun fire?
You didn't just look at it
as a piece of furniture?
Scientific fellows, of course.
No, we did not see the gun firing.
Well, well.
Oh, never mind.
Mr. Chairman, I'm not a scientist...
but my reading
of the figures that I've seen...
shows that in practice we don't get
those advantages that are being talked about.
I think Colonel Holland
is taking altogether too gloomy a view.
Perhaps, Mr. Chairman,
you would allow Mr. Rice and my staff...
to read his summary of the figures.
These figures are averages
of firings at 85 yards.
Carry on the blackout, sir?
The propellant type throughout
was cordite mark nine.
Charge weight in pounds:2.75.
Penetration in inches:2.087.
Charge weight in pounds:3.5.
Muzzle velocity in feet per second:2, 183.
Penetration in inches:2.28.
With moving targets,
average range: 90 yards.
Lightest charge weight:2.75 pounds.
Average time per round: Eight seconds.
Heaviest charge weight: Four pounds.
Average time between rounds:22 seconds.
Small charge...
small penetration, minimum interval.
Large charge... greatest penetration,
maximum interval.
The summary will, of course,
be circulated.
I should like to ask Mr. Rice
what it all adds up to.
Why, I think Professor Mair's already
given the view of the section.
And you share that view?
- Oh, come. It's scarcely a fair question, is it?
- Why not?
Well, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Rice is one
of Professor Mair's junior officers.
Quite. I don't think you can ask Rice
to argue with his chief, Holland.
Mr. Chairman, I want to be quite frank.
We don't like this gun.
We're told those figures show
that we're wrong.
Professor Mair suggested that his expert
should give us the figures.
Surely I'm entitled to know
what those figures mean.
After all, this is an important matter.
It is not the prestige of a particular
department that is involved...
but men's lives.
If the Reeve's gun is accepted,
sooner or later men will have to fight with it.
If we've been too optimistic,
they'll be the sufferers. We shan't.
Well, well, Mr. Chairman.
No one wants to hide anything.
If Colonel Holland would like Mr. Rice's views,
I have no objection at all.
Well, Mr. Rice?
I agree with Professor Mair
that the idea is excellent.
And the weapon?
I don't think it's right yet.
Would you be happy to see it
accepted in its present form...
on those figures?
No, I shouldn't.
You must realize that you can have ideas
that'll win the war four times over...
but it still won't do anybody any good
unless you can sell them.
We're not in a university department now.
No, nor in an advertising agency,
where you belong.
Now, look here, Sammy. You may think you're a great
big scientist and I'm just a commercial stooge...
but the plain fact is, if you make
a mess of things, I have to clear it up!
And the equally plain fact is the stuff you build
a reputation on comes chiefly out of my head!
I'm not a politician or a salesman,
but neither am I a kid of 10!
Not 10, Sammy, eight.
Ten is what you are
when you're not cross.
Good Lord! It's 4:00.
Miss! Oh, miss!
Pot of tea for two, miss.
It's ready.
Did you hear Sammy
calling me an advertising agent?
As you were both shouting at the tops
of your voices, I could hardly help it.
Oh, no. He was.
I was calm, cool and good-tempered.
You know, Sue,
I'm a much misunderstood man.
I'm not appreciated.
That's my trouble.
I appreciate you.
Both of you.
That's number one.
Do you want number two?
Number two is Pinker and Waring
are dining together tonight...
at your club.
- But Pinker's backing Brine.
- That's number three.
- Brine will take over the section.
- What? That thug?
Want to bet?
Will you resign if he does?
It hasn't happened yet.
I'm not sure.
Well, I am. You won't.
You'll let all this happen,
and when it has...
you'll see there won't be any section
if you go.
So you'll hang around hating it and
expecting everybody else to be sorry for you.
- Stop grousing.
- I won't!
You've gotta see yourself for once
as Pinker and R.B. See you.
They're just using you!
- Everything all right, sir?
- Yes!
You can't expect me to come in with Pinker
to get Mair out.
- You can't stop them!
- Maybe not, but I needn't exactly help them.
You could run the section yourself.
Even Pinker says so.
But you just won't face things.
You go on being sorry for yourself
with everything in the world to live for.
But what's so special
about only having one foot?
Shut up, you little...
You can't be a professional footballer.
So what?
You think what you're doing
is good and honorable and loyal?
Well, it isn't.
You just haven't got the guts!
- Will you shut up?
- Every word I said is true.
Oh, Sammy, you're such a fool.
Why don't you pull yourself together, Sue?
You're making an ass of yourself.
Why, Mr. Rice!
- Sitting here all by yourself!
- No, Susan's with me.
- But she's gone.
- Right.
There's no good looking at me like that,
Mr. Rice.
We met her leaving,
and she'd been crying.
You can't fool an old campaigner.
Mike, let me have the bill.
Next time you just decide to go home
when we're out together...
I'd be obliged if you'd tell me.
I've been thinking, if you really think
I'm such a poor sap as you said tonight...
we'd better get out of each other's way.
The same thought had occurred to me.
Why can't you get tough
with anyone but me?
Why can't you get tough with Waring?
He gives you cause enough.
You can't quarrel with R.B.
He won't keep it up.
Why should he decide who quarrels?
Why shouldn't you?
I'm no good at rows. I loathe them.
Don't you?
Not particularly.
Sometimes I like them.
Look, Sammy. This is it.
You've gotta make up your mind...
whether you're gonna spend the rest of your life
being someone it's just too bad about or not.
Last one, Mr. Rice.
- It's half an hour till closing time.
- Closing time for you right now, Mr. Rice.
What do you mean, Knucksie?
I mean that I like you and Miss Susan
too much to let you get stinking in my bar.
That to Miss Susan...
and that to you, Knucksie.
Two and fourpence.
Your change.
Look here, Mr. Rice.
Take a walk home.
Walk will do you good.
You know,
the trouble with you, Knucksie...
is that you're a sob sitting...
- pint pushing...
- Caution! Caution, my friend. Ladies here.
- What is he doing?
- Anyone ever give you a sick ear, Knucksie?
Not without paying cash for it.
You go home.
All right.
- Sir.
- Shut up.
That's just what I will do.
Go home.
And you can keep your gut-rot stuff.
I got my own drink.
- It's home.
- That's right. That's right.
# Knucksie wouldn't give me
another drink #
#Another drink #
# Knucksie wouldn't give me
another drink ##
That's right!
Hmm. My own drink.
# Dum-da-di, dum-dum-da-di #
My own drink, see?
All mine.
Just a touch.
Well, get out of it!
Get out and stay out.
Woman, you can ring
till you're blue in the face.
Hello? Hello? Riverside 9090?
Hello? Hello?
Riverside 9090?
Is Mr. Rice there?
Captain Stuart calling Mr. Rice.
Hello! Hello!
Riverside 9090. Hello?
Hello. Riverside 9090.
- Huh?
- What?
- Hello?
- Wait a minute.
Speak up. Captain Stuart,
I've got your Riverside number.
Good. Hello, Sammy.
Look, I've got two of them.
Now listen, old man. I have got two of them.
- What?
- One, two.
- I'm at Chesil Bank near...
- I don't know what you're talking about.
You come from Waterloo.
You got it clear?
I'm gonna have a bash at the first one.
You can have a go at the second, if you're lucky.
Now, are you listening, old boy?
Because it's very important.
- I've got two.
- Wait a minute, Stuart.
What? Oh, hurry up.
What is it, Stuart?
You'd better wait till I get there.
Nothing doing.
We can't do a Laurel and Hardy, old boy.
If anything goes haywire on the first bomb, one of
us wants to be left to get a spanner on the second.
Don't be so cocky.
Wait till I get down.
I've got a lot of things to suggest.
Fine. You can try them on number two.
Number one's mine.
After all, I found them.
What are the trains?
5:30 a. m. You'll have to
get up early, you lazy hound.
See you for breakfast.
Stuart, be careful, for the love of Mike,
and good luck.
Same to you.
I say, hope you won't need it.
- Mr. Rice?
- Yes.
Oh, my name's Pearson, sir. I've got a car here
to take you on to Colonel Strang.
- Back to the beach.
- Has Captain Stuart done anything yet?
Oh, yes.
Rotten business.
I thought you knew, but, of course,
you couldn't. You were on the train.
- Is he dead?
- Oh, yes. Yes, killed instantly.
Apparently they thought he'd done it,
and then something went wrong and it went up.
Mr. Rice, sir.
How are you?
My name's Strang.
All right, Don. Thank you.
Do you know this part of the world?
But you've heard of Chesil Bank,
I suppose.
Yes, I've heard of it.
Now, well, there it is, you see?
The lagoon there's called the Fleet...
and that shallow over there
is Portland Bill.
Are you a fuse expert?
I've done a lot of work
on experimental fuses.
Dick Stuart told me last night that he
arranged with you that he should try it first...
then if anything went wrong,
you should have a go.
- Is that right?
- Yes.
Yeah. He says it's all very fine.
But, you know,
we've got plenty of people here...
chaps like young Don Pearson,
who brought you up...
only too anxious to go out there
and give that thing a few good clouts...
with a hammer and chisel.
Only I don't think it happens to be
that kind of a job.
I've been in on this with Stuart
from the start.
We had a fairly definite plan
mapped out.
If I could have his notes,
I think I'd be all right.
But, you see, I'm not worrying about you.
I'm worrying about me.
I let you do it, you go out there
and blow yourself to blazes...
what's your family gonna say, hmm?
Your boss, heaven knows who.
No family.
Professor Mair knows all about it...
and heaven can wait.
I've got a list of things here I'd like.
All right.
You'd better hear Stuart's notes.
Well, would you like to tell me
how he worked?
He used a field telephone
all the time he was working...
explaining what he was doing
and all sorts of other things.
I'm afraid it's a bit of a jumble.
I... I haven't had time to sort it all out.
The things I saw and things he said.
I have to read it all back to you
as it happened.
Oh, they're your own shorthand notes,
are they?
- Of course.
- Why, of course?
- Nobody else could read them back.
- Oh, I see.
All right. Let's go, shall we?
"0645 hours.
Wire tested and found in order.
"Captain Stuart went out,
and we saw him get into the slit trench.
- 0647... "
- Slit trench?
Yes, sir. Captain Stuart
dug them both himself, for both bombs.
- Oh, I see.
- "0647.
"Well, here we are at Wembley.
"It's a lovely day.
"Sun and a slight breeze blowing
from the pavilion end.
"Ground looks in beautiful condition.
"Must be quite
a hundred thousand people here.
"The king hasn't come yet.
0648. I'm putting
the reaching rods together. "
Yes, I know all about the tests.
We agreed them together.
Let me hear from where
he really gets down to it.
- Able-Baker-Charlie...
- Let's check the wire, Sergeant.
- Yes, sir.
- See they do it properly.
"Well, unless the electricity
they taught me is all wrong...
"it ought to be hunky-dory.
"Think I better
just tremble the trembler and see.
"Yes. Seems okay.
"Well, boys, unless there's
a very small man inside with a lighted match...
"I think that's probably all right.
"There will be special matinees
this week on Wednesdays and Fridays.
"Just let's have another look.
"What's this hole?
"No. Positively no deception.
Bob's your uncle.
"I don't see...
"why they wanted so long lead.
"The insulator?
"At this point...
"the explosion occurred.
"The transmitter was destroyed.
"At the time...
"Captain Stuart was kneeling upright...
"with what appeared to be the cap...
in his hand. "
Thanks very much.
It's all right, sir.
- Do the clothes fit?
- Yes, they'll do.
Good. I think we've got
everything you asked for.
Reaching rods. Clamps.
That's the very job.
You'll find the hot pads
in this thermos.
Where are the pipe wrenches?
Oh, you've got them, Cartwright.
Yes, they're all right.
- Shall we go then?
- Yes. Uh...
A few addresses,
just, uh, in case I don't bring it off.
Can I be phoned here?
Yes. Of course. Oh, Tyler.
- Sir!
- I'll warn the post office.
- All set.
- Okay?
Here they are, Sarge.
- All right, lad?
- Fine.
- All set?
- Stethoscope.
Yes, sir.
You'll find it'll play out quite easily, sir.
Drop your head when you want to speak.
- Right.
- Shall I carry the bag, sir?
- No, give it to me.
- You can see the flag, sir. Good luck.
- Good luck.
- Good luck, sir.
- All the best, sir. - Good
luck, old man. - All right.
It's a bigger sea running
than this morning.
Further down the coast,
there's a good stretch for surfing.
- You ever done any of that?
- Yes, but not for 10 years.
All right.
Shall I take it now?
Are you gonna start
with the same tests that Stuart did?
Yes. There's always the chance
this one might be different.
That's what I thought.
Well, you sure you can manage?
Suppose I'll have to.
Yes. Well, good luck.
Good luck, my boy.
Make way.
- All right here?
- Yes.
I'm just testing the wire. Give me a wave
if you can hear me, will you?
Testing wire, sir.
I hear him loud and clear.
I'm burying the earthing rods.
I'm now going to test it for metal.
Says, "These pebbles are the devil.
"I slipped and nearly clouted it.
I'm trying now for heat. "
He's out of the trench.
He's about halfway up to it.
"I am placing stethoscope beside bomb. "
- No ticking, sir.
- Look, all these wires are a bit of a nuisance.
I'm gonna take this thing off,
put it on the ground...
and speak into it
when I have something to say.
First of all, I'll try and get the clamps
on the bomb to hold it...
and then work on it with the wrenches,
just like Stuart did.
He'll be in trouble with the clamps
on those pebbles.
He's got the clamps
and the pipe wrenches out.
He says, "I've got the jaws in line.
Now I'll tighten them. "
Says, "This is trickier than I thought.
They're bound to pull the bomb a bit
when they grip. "
Well, here goes.
Well, that's got the first one on.
It moved a bit, but, uh...
as you all gather, nothing happened.
I'm sweating like a pig.
I must mop off.
Now for the second clamp.
I'm going to move some of these pebbles.
You dare.
"I'm putting on the second clamp.
"Much easier.
"Okay, it's on.
"Now for the wrenches.
I'm going to unscrew the cap
exactly as Stuart did. "
Says, "Very difficult.
Should have waited a bit
before starting again. "
Says, "Too much whisky.
Could do with one now. "
Done it! Done it, sir!
Yes, it's just as Stuart says.
The clock mechanism is in the head.
There's a long lead coming out of it...
with two flat bits attached,
which may be insulators.
In the top of the body there's a simple
trembler tongue lying between terminals.
I'm earthing them.
And this is where Stuart went wrong.
I can see the hole
going down into the body.
And as Stuart says,
the long lead seems too long.
Now what?
Says, "I think I've got it.
"There's a shorter and a longer lead.
"The shorter lead
winds right up into the clock...
so that no lead is left showing. "
That's what fooled Stuart.
I can just see the ends of the insulators.
The lead which Stuart found
must go to a second trembler fuse in the body.
It's a double booby trap.
"Jerry certainly is no gentleman.
I am going to look for another way
into the body. "
Yes. There is another way in.
There's a cap on each end...
only one's obvious, and the other isn't.
Well, I suppose this is where I go to work
with the pipe wrenches again.
"I am now going to unscrew
the second cap.
Stand by.
This is where we came in. "
Wait a minute.
Christmas, this may not be so easy.
If the second trembler's in the body,
then it's all right to unscrew the cap.
But if it's in the cap, then unscrewing it
will send the whole thing up.
So I've gotta make up my mind whether
to hold the body still and unscrew the cap...
or hold the cap still
and unscrew the body.
that it's the cap I have to unscrew.
Any takers?"
He's got the pipe wrench
on the other end.
I must do it. I must!
He's all in.
He'll never make it.
I must.
If that wrench slips, he's had it.
- He's down.
- Stand clear!
Hold on, Rice! I'm coming!
Interfering son of a...
- I think you've done enough.
- Stay where you are.
There is a second trembler.
And I've only got to bang it
to send the whole thing up.
- It was a personal matter.
- Yes.
Yes, I know all about that.
Dick Stuart just the same.
Well, and what do we do now?
Oh, you just get your chaps up
and steam the charge out.
That's all, is it?
That's all.
- Got everything you want?
- Yes, thanks.
Book, bun, sandwiches.
Did the mess sergeant give you a drink?
Yes. And I think I'll go
and put my feet up.
Yes, I should if I were you.
You've earned it.
Well, good-bye, my dear fellow.
Look here. Anybody ever has
any doubt about what you can do...
with your hands, your arms
or any other part of you...
you send them along to me,
do you see?
Hello. Who's that?
Uh, Taylor, sir.
Oh, hello, Taylor.
Anybody still here?
- Mr. Till and Miss Susan, sir.
- Right.
- Excuse me, sir. Could... Could I... Could I trouble you for a moment?
- Of course.
I... I understand that the fuse work
is being transferred away from here, sir.
Mmm. Professor Mair's
taking it back to his own lab.
He very kindly said he'd take me along
with him, sir, to carry on the fuse work.
That's what they told me.
Oh. They... They won't let me, sir.
What do you mean
they won't let you?
Well, they said because he can't have
uniformed men with him, sir.
- I'm to go back to general duties.
- That's ridiculous.
Yes, sir.
But I... I can't leave home
just now, sir...
not with the way things are.
I'd rather do anything.
I don't know, sir.
Can't go. I just...
Taylor. Leave this to me.
Don't worry, and don't do anything rash.
I promise you it'll be all right.
Well, thank you, sir.
Now get along home.
There's a good chap.
- Evening, Crowhurst.
- Evening, sir.
- Hello, Till.
- Hello.
- How'd you get on?
- Oh, all right.
- Good.
- Any news?
Holland phoned twice.
Madeleine phoned seven times.
There's a rumor Mair's out
and Brine's in.
- Anyone ask after me?
- Susan.
- She did?
- I didn't tell her though.
Good old Tilly.
- Hello.
- Hello.
Colonel Holland wants you to go
to the War Office as soon as you come in...
no matter how late.
Room 583.
What do you want?
I want you to go.
Don't knock. Come in.
Sorry to be late, sir. I've been out on a job.
I didn't get your message till I got back.
All right. Don't waste words.
Sit down.
Sit down, sit down.
What did you make of Strang?
- He's all right.
- Yeah, he feels the same about you.
Now then, it may or may not
have escaped your notice...
that up till now
we have been losing the war.
Nevertheless, it is the intention of
His Majesty's government that we shall win it.
And contrary to the impression
conveyed by the popular press...
it will be won by the army,
the navy and the air force.
In that order.
Now then, the army is to have
its own research section.
The man in charge
will have a free hand, equipment...
- Personnel?
- Anything. We want results.
Of course, you'll, um...
you'll have to be in uniform.
Otherwise you'll never get anything.
We'll make you a major or something.
- Well, what do you say?
- I accept.
You do?
- I never thought you would.
- Nor did I.
- Well?
- Well?
I want to talk to you.
- All right.
- Hickory Tree?
Lord Nelson?
- One thing I don't like.
- Only one?
- Your coming back on condition.
- What condition?
- That I went to the War Office.
- Come on in.
Oh, Sue.
Even the whisky.
Have a drink, Sammy.