Taps

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Taps is a 1981 film about a group of teenage military school cadets who take extreme measures to ensure the future of their academy when its existence is threatened by local condo developers.

Directed by Harold Becker. Written by Robert Mark Kamen, James Lineberger and Darryl Ponicsan, based on the novel Father Sky by Devery Freeman.
This school is our home, we think it's worth defending.

Cadet Major Brian Moreland[edit]

  • [During the conference] What are we asking? That the school be kept open. That's all. Other kids are vandalizing their school. We want ours to stay open. If we behave like soldiers and not a bunch of kids in a riot, we can win this.
  • Were they just words? Honor, duty, country? I loved that man. Being in his presence made me feel privileged. But there had to be something missing in all that he taught us, or this wouldn't have happened. I... I've done a terrible thing.
  • It was my command and I was in charge. When I knelt next to Charlie, I tried to find some justification. But honor! Honor doesn't count for shit when you're looking at a dead little boy! You don't think of the book of remembrance or bugles or flags or twenty-one-gun salutes. All you can think of is what a neat little kid he was... and how you're gonna miss him.

Cadet Captain Alex Dwyer[edit]

  • Zen is no laughing matter.
  • [On General Bache] He's only a man, Brian. Like your father, my father. Just a man. Not every word out of his mouth is some holy nugget.
  • [On refusing to leave] My sense of honor may be a little ragged, but I don't walk out on a friend.
  • Pardon me, the major's getting pissed off. And we don't want to piss off the major. Piss off the major, you find yourself escorted out between two of Shawn's red berets! Think with your brain, you'll piss off the major. Piss off the major and you'll find yourself escorted out just like the major's father. Reason with the major, out you go. Pretty soon there'll be nobody left but one pissed-off major.

Cadet Captain David Shawn[edit]

  • [When learning about Brian Moreland's promotion] The gold. I'd give my right nut for those oak leaves.
  • [Last words, firing a machine gun] It's beautiful, man! Beautiful!

Brigadier General Harlan Bache[edit]

  • Four, five, six. I can never hear that sequence of numbers without feeling a rush in my blood. The siege itself was almost as bad as the assaults, and the assaults were out of this world. They kept coming at us, wave after wave. Totally indifferent to casualties. Of course the Chinese always had plenty of bodies to spare. They seemed to be fascinated with our Springfield 1903, the rifle our snipers used. They called it "the weapon of the silent death". I wish I could remember that phrase in Chinese. It was rather beautiful.
  • I tell you what. Let’s drink to the one thing that never changes, to the one permanent part of a man’s life...honor, indeed. Burglar proof, weather proof, fool proof, one hundred-proof! Honor. Everything else is subject to the... powers that be. To the caprices of often inferior men. But your honor is your own, inviolate. So then- to honor.
  • Now, they'll respect the rank. But God knows- they won't respect the man, unless he earns it. And the loyalty of men is always hard to earn.

Colonel Kerby[edit]

  • [Meeting Brian Moreland] So you're the fellow who started all this.
  • They don't see you guys as rebels with a good cause. They think you're home-grown terrorists; and frankly, the whole thing's got 'em scared shitless. Nice American boys don't act like this.
  • Excuse me if I don't shed tears over your lost youth. You've had your chances to toss it in. You've got this chance. The governor is this close to ordering us to take you in by force. When that order comes, I'll do it and you won't ever be that unhappy again. I'll have to do it.
  • A soldier?! No, goddamnit, I'm a soldier, with the career goal of all soldiers - staying alive in situations where it ain't all that easy to do! But you, my friend! You're a death-lover. Yes, I know the species. Seventeen years old and some sorry son of a bitch has put you in love with death. Somebody sold you on the idea that dying for a cause is oh, so romantic. Well, that's the worst kind of all the kinds of bullshit there is! Dying is only one thing: bad! Don't find that out. Please!

Dialogue[edit]

[In the General's office after the graduation parade, on the decision for the closure]

Brian Moreland: Sir, how can they do this?
General Bache: With the stroke of a pen, sir. Their field of honor was a desktop. They didn't consult me. Never hinted at what their plans were. They just papered it and penciled it and went ahead and did it because that's what the numbers said.
Brian Moreland: Sir, all they want is money. Let them raise the tuition. We'll pay it.
General Bache: I'm afraid it's not quite that simple, son. There's a feeling on the outside that schools like this are anachronistic, and leaders of men like you and me are dinosaurs.
Brian Moreland: Sir?
General Bache: Well, you go to the movies, you read books. A military leader is always portrayed as slightly insane. Very often more than slightly. That's because it is insane to cling to honor in a world where honor is held in contempt.
Brian Moreland: Sir, I don't know if I really deserve the rank of major. My first thought was for myself. I didn't think about the others or the school...
General Bache: Sit down, Mr Moreland.
Brian Moreland: Sir. [Sits]
General Bache: Never be ashamed of being human. Without humanity, a leader becomes a tyrant.
Brian Moreland: I was relieved. I figured I had another year. I could graduate and go on to West Point.
General Bache: So you will. And the others too. I haven't spent a lifetime fighting just to turn over and play dead now. I came to Bunker Hill when I was twelve years old. Just like you. With the exception of those twelve years, I've been in uniform all my life. I know men younger than myself who take their pensions and put on stupid little white shirts with cut-off sleeves, alligator on the tit, and spend the rest of their days beating the hell out of a little white ball with an iron club. My God! The thought of it makes me want to puke.
Brian Moreland: They like it like that, civilians.
General Bache: Well, the one thing civilians know is their rights. And it was within their rights to push us out, to make way for their... goddamned... condominiums! But we have one little advantage on them.
Brian Moreland: What's that, sir?
General Bache: We're here. And the condos aren't. We have a foothold. You boys are my purpose. You're my family. And I'm not going to let them take you away from me.
Brian Moreland: We won't either, sir. We won't let them.

Mother #2: Our son would never be involved in something like this!
Kevin Moreland: Lady, if my son can be involved in it, your son can be involved in it. Let's not get holier than thou.
Mother #1: Let us see our children, and hear it from them!
Mother #3: Yes.
Brian Moreland: Ma'am, I can't call my soldiers away from their posts just to calm down their parents; I'm sorry.
Mother #4: My God, you're only children!
Kevin Moreland: They're going to try to add kidnapping to the rest of it, kid. You oughta know that.
Father: We want to see our kids.
Brian Moreland: I'll try to arrange something.
Mother #2: Well, good, now we're getting somewhere!
Brian Moreland: It'll be done under my terms.
Mother #1: I hope you're very proud of yourself, Sergeant Moreland. You have fathered a perfect son of a bitch!
Kevin Moreland: Will you people shut up?! I can't think through all your static!
Father: We aren't in the Army, Sergeant.
Kevin Moreland: No apologies necessary. Just keep the hell quiet and let me take care of this.

Kevin Moreland: Look, Brian. All the men in our family have been soldiers.
Brian Moreland: Yeah, I know.
Kevin Moreland: Just plain old dogfaces with a knack for surviving. But I was hoping somebody along the line would break into brass, kid.
Brian Moreland: I have my command, dad.
Kevin Moreland: I don't think you're thinking straight. What you have here is a bad way to lose a pretty bright future, kid.
Brian Moreland: [Coldly] Stop calling me "kid".
Kevin Moreland: [Stares silently for a few moments] Do you expect me to call you "Major"? You can forget it. Look at this operation. You got all your strength nose to nose with the cops. I mean, eventually even those bullhorn yo-yo's are gonna figure out you've got a vulnerable rear flank, and they're gonna sneak in there. [Points off to his right] Maybe over there! Over there, behind the cover of the trees, and they're just gonna throw a net over your little pink asses!
Brian Moreland: You can say that all you want, it doesn't matter.
Kevin Moreland: First canister of tear gas that pops, half your troops will wet their pants and run like rabbits! For that matter, how bright was it to let this delegation in here, huh? Look at me! Within five seconds I could break your neck, and you wouldn't be able to do a thing about it!
Brian Moreland: You'd be shot. My next in command would take over.
Kevin Moreland: I read that book, too.
Brian Moreland: On the other hand, we could take you all as prisoners or hostages. But we won't; we have a code of honor here!
Kevin Moreland: Oh, sweet Jesus, a code of honor. Is that what this is all about? Somebody's lofty load of shit about honor? Yours?
Brian Moreland: Yes, mine, and I learned it here. General Bache lives it, breathes it-
Kevin Moreland: [Interrupting] Bache! Are you kidding me! Bache is here 'cause there's no place left-
Brian Moreland: He's the example we all try to follow! The finest man, the finest officer-
Kevin Moreland: Bache has been passed over for promotion so many times...he's got a permanent stiff neck from the draft! I'll tell you about Bache! Bache is living proof that horses' asses outnumber horses!
Brian Moreland: Captain Shawn, escort my escort the Sergeant off the base! [MSgt. Moreland then slaps his son in the face while he's getting to leave]

Cast[edit]

External links[edit]

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