The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968 film)

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The Charge of the Light Brigade is a 1968 film, set in 1854, during the Crimean War, in which poor planning leads to the British Light Brigade openly charging a Russian artillery position with tragic consequences.

Directed by Tony Richardson. Written by Charles Wood.
That grand heroic moment - The Charge of the Light Brigade! (taglines)


[Lord Cardigan is inspecting his troops]
Lord Cardigan: [voiceover] I do not propose to recount my life in any detail, what is what. No damn business of anyone, what is what. I am Lord Cardigan, that is what! Them Cherrybums, you see 'em tight, my Cherrybums, I keep 'em tight. Ten thousand a year out of me own pocket I spend to clothe 'em. A master cutler sharps their swords, and I keep 'em tight-stitched, cut to a shadow. Good! If they can't fornicate, they can't fight, and if they don’t fight hard, I'll flog their backs raw, for all their fine looks!

[Troop Sergeant Major Corbett is addressing prospective recruits.]
TSM Corbett: Culloden. Flanders. Salamanca. Waterloo. Ah! And escort to Prince Albert on the occasion of his wedding, after which he called us His Own. God bless him! [drinks, or pretends to drink, from a large tankard.] Our dress is bright and warm. Out mounts is mastered and mannered, gentle in ride...calm in battle, and our officers just whisper, they being of the opinion, like to myself, that more can be done glorious by leading from the front than can ever be brought off by prods up the arse from the rear! [Laughs heartily, sees Mitchell] Hold your head up, sir! I believe you would look a rare treat in stable dress. Are you respectable?
Mitchell: I've often thought of enlisting.
TSM Corbett: I thought you had, by the fine way you carry yourself.
Metcalfe: [at the amiable stage of intoxication] I'm a bad character, just out of gaol!
TSM Corbett: In that case, you've already served Her Majesty! [All laugh] Lord Cardigan's Cherrybums -- follow me!

[Riding-master Mogg is observing Corbett's new recruits.]
Riding-master Mogg: What is the condition of them?
TSM Corbett: They're all wobbly-boned. Recruits in England are mostly wobbly and ill-formed.
Mogg: Ah, but there is no such thing as a wobbly hofficer. What you sergeants will never seem to understand is the state of responsibility that an hofficer is in. They worry. They 'ardly never wobble.

Captain Nolan: [voiceover] There is no place happier than a cavalry mess. If one is a stupid, inconsiderate and lazy man, one can fit as a round peg in a snug round hole. At times, I am so pent up with their languour that I could scruff hold of any two of them and bang their noddles together until their doodles drop off!

[At Lady Scarlett's ball.]
Lord Cardigan: [to Squire de Burgh, on observing the ladies] All this swish and tit gets my sniffing nose up! I shall have to fetch it off, tonight, Squire, had me Cherrybums out today, always makes me randified!

[Mogg has been watching TSM Corbett attempting to teach the new recruits right from left.]
Riding-master Mogg: [to Nolan] It's like a foreign language to them! They don't know hany direction, back or front. They'll never find their front when there hisn't a black face to it. I halways tells them they'll know their front from [to Nolan's Indian servant] the many black nigger faces waving knives at 'em!
[It is mess night for the regiment. A mess waiter serves Cornet Codrington an improbably large head of lettuce.]
Lord Cardigan: [noticing Codrington's unusual meal] Are you costive, young man?
Codrington: [holding up a folded note] I have your orders, my lord, to be here and eat lettuce. I am eating lettuce, I have eaten lettuce.
[He passes the note to Captain Featherstonehaugh.]
Cardigan: What is it?
Featherstonehaugh: [trying not to laugh] What it tells Cornet Codrington, my lord, is that, as youngest officer, you will expect him to eat as a wabbit does, only lettuce! And it's signed by you, my lord!
Cardigan: [hugely enjoying the prank] Green boy! Such a green boy! You have been drawn! Not my order you should eat lettuce, though perhaps it will put sap in your pizzle!
[The table roars with laughter, to Codrington's discomfiture.]

[During the same meal.]
Officer: What colour is the Russian enemy?
Riding-master Mogg: Sneaky colour.
Paymaster Duberly: Gwey. Your Russian is gwey. Which is why he can't be seen. Which is why his pwomotion is slow.
Officer: With a little breeding, an Englishman can buy his advancement.
Mogg: [indicating Duberly] He and Hi are not hable to buy our advancement, we have to hobtain it by our habilities!

[A mess waiter has just placed a black bottle of Moselle between Captain Nolan and his guest, William Russell.]
Squire de Burgh: [noticing, to Cardigan] Couleur de noir.
Lord Cardigan: You are drinking beer, sir, porter beer!
Nolan: No, my lord.
Cardigan: Yes!
Nolan: No.
Cardigan: See it!
Nolan: No, my lord.
Cardigan: Don't you "no" me! That is a black bottle.
Nolan: I assure you, my lord--
Cardigan: That is a black bottle and you are drinking porter from it!
Captain Featherstonehaugh: [braying] Champagne only!
Russell: In point of fact, I asked Captain Nolan if--
Featherstonehaugh: You knew that!
Nolan: [rising] I am not aware--
Cardigan: [rising] I am aware you are drinking porter at my table!
Featherstonehaugh: [rising] Sit down, Captain Nolan!
Nolan: [not moving] Sit down, Featherstonehaugh.
Featherstonehaugh: What His Lordship said was that champagne only was to be dwunk in the mess tonight. What he said---
Nolan: It is not porter, it is Moselle, my lord.
Featherstonehaugh: Apologize!
Nolan: [still endeavouring to keep his temper] If I am in error--
Cardigan: Error? Don't quibble with me, sir! Beer! I will not have beer drunk in my mess! [Nolan turns abruptly and starts walking out of the room] Come back, Nolan! Nolan, you will not leave the mess! I am not finished with you!!
[The door shuts; Nolan has left.]
Cardigan: [crimson with rage] Dog! Devil upstart! Impertinent Indian dog-devil!

[Cardigan is inspecting the stables in company of TSM Corbett.]
Lord Cardigan: Sarn't Major.
TSM Corbett: Sir.
Cardigan: I want a report, a report of any conversation Captain Nolan has with other officers. You are to take note of whatever he might say and bring the information to me.
TSM Corbett: [unable to believe what he has been told] I shall spy, my lord?
Cardigan: You shall.
TSM Corbett: My lord-- My lord, to be asked to take up the spy-- I am much distressed to be asked such a thing, my lord. After twenty years of coming up from private trooper...keeping off the pongelow...not a drop since corporal. [resolutely] I shall inform Captain Nolan. I-- I can hardly do other.
Cardigan: [impassive] Sarn't Major, it is better that you take a ball and put it in your own brain. You are finished, now, as if you had not ever been made. What a waste.
[Cardigan walks off, leaving a devastated Corbett to consider his future.]

[TSM Corbett is being marched out to be flogged for being drunk on duty.]
TSM Corbett: [voiceover] This is all according to the Articles of War. I was drunk at my post. It is not my place to criticise. But it will have a grave effect on the non-commissioned officers, for it will show there is a slender thread. One slip, and a man is deprived of what has taken years of steady effort to obtain.

[While witnessing Corbett's punishment, Cornet Codrington passes out in a dead faint.]
Riding-master Mogg: [to Nolan] Always one or two of your young tyro officers brings up or flops over. Fades away like Lily at bedtime!
Captain Nolan: The time should be forever past when such treatment is inflicted on a British soldier!
Mogg: They will not fight unless they are flogged to it. Would you ask that of them? Would you ask that they fight like fiends of 'Ell for money? Or hideas? That would be hun-Christian!

Captain Nolan: [voiceover] One day, there will be an army where troopers need not be forced to fight, by floggings or hard reins. An army-- a Christian army-- that fights because it is paid well to fight, and fights well because its women and children are cared for. An army that is efficient and of a professional feather. I must fight for such and army. That army will bring the first of the modern wars, and the last of the gallop.
[In Lord Raglan's office.]
General Airey: It does look like war.
Lord Raglan: Does it? I do think the French have been asking for it, ever since they had my arm.
Airey: But it won't be the French.
Raglan: Won't it be the French?
Airey: I've got a map, somewhere, of who it ought to be.
[He walks over to a rolled wall map and pulls it down. It is of France.]
Airey: Well, it might be the French. It might always be the French.
Raglan: I knew it would be.

[In Raglan's office. Cardigan is incensed to learn he is to be under Lord Lucan's command.]
Lord Cardigan: I cam to be offered a command, not serve under that fool Lucan! I knew, the moment I saw his biscuit face sopping up wet around the Horse Guards he'd be here, starting his wheedling!
Lord Raglan: I am sure that after a little while, Lord Cardigan, you can be persuaded that such an arrangement can be made to work. After all, you will have the Light Brigade. Dash and fire, eh?
General Airey: Yes, Cardigan. You'll have the Light Brigade. Dash and fire, it is!
Cardigan: [slightly mollified] Lucan could not make himself fit to command a tent. Command an escort. Not fit to command a troop of knackered tailors on stubbed donkeys!

[Raglan addresses his commanders.]
Lord Raglan: War. This is war, gentlemen. Our passage to India is threatened, I should think, wouldn't you? The honour, the reputation, the glory of England is threatened, and the Queen's Majesty is sure to be threatened, she is. Poor brave weak little, sick little Turkey--
General Airey: [sententiously] "The Sick Man of Europe."
Raglan: Yes, though I prefer to consider her as a young woman, hands up, fluttered, defenceless-- if she should fall to the Tyrant, eh? If the Turks go down like cards, flip-flop, then next, up our own Solent, and our own Queen will come the Russians! Ships and guns to rip our country into shame!
[At the battle of the Alma]
Sir Colin Campbell: Whoever is wounded, lie where he is until a bandsman comes to him! No soldier may go off carring wounded men! If any man does such a thing, his name shall be stuck in up his parish kirk! Come! Advance!

At the battle of the Alma; the Cavalry has been ordered to stay to the rear. Lord Lucan rides impatiently back and forth in front of the Light Brigade.]
Lord Cardigan: Lucan, you're a stew-stick!
Lord Lucan: Fetch off!
Cardigan: Poltroon.
Lucan: Bum roll!
Cardigan: Draw your horse from 'round your ears, and bring your head out of his arse!
[Lord Cardigan rides to the head of the Brigade.]
Lord Cardigan: [calling out] Colonel Douglas, I shall expect your very best support!
Colonel Douglas: You shall have it, my lord!
Lord Cardigan: Mind, Douglas, your best support! Draw...swords!.
[Six hundred swords rasp from their sheaths.]
Lord Cardigan: [to himself] Well, here goes the last of the Brudenells. [Aloud] The Brigade will advance! Trumpeter, walk...march!

[As the Brigade advances, Nolan comes to the horrified realization that they are moving down the wrong valley. He gallops ahead.]
Captain Nolan: [frantically] The wrong way! Veer right! The wrong way! Veer right, my lord, veer right!
[A shell explodes overhead and a splinter strikes Nolan in the chest. He continues to gallop forward for a few yards, uttering an inhuman shriek, then topples from his horse, dead]

[The aftermath of the Charge: a 17th Lancer comes upon a wounded Hussar.]
Wounded Hussar: Is that an Englishman?
Lancer: Yes, old chap. You've been wounded by a cut across your eyes which has blinded you.
Wounded Hussar: Am I in pain?
Lancer: You are in pain, I believe.