The Prisoner (1955) Script

Am I allowed to know on what charge you're arresting me?

Treason against the state.

Try to remember.

Any confession I may be said to have made in prison will be a lie...

...or the result of human weakness.

We've got to collect your valuables, you know. Regulations.

Watch, wrist, one.

Gunmetal. Gunmetal.

Cigarette tin.

Beads, rosary, one.


Look at it.




One. That's where the money goes, eh?

You've no need for larceny, have you?

Petty larceny, that is.

And if you do rob your own poor boxes, who's to know?

Do you really believe that? Come on.

Right hand.

You've been in a fire? Of a kind.

Won't spoil your fingerprints, you know.

Thank you.

Here, if you want it.

I'm sorry about the nonsense we've had to put you through.

I imagine this is more awkward for you than it is for me.

Well, hardly that, I suppose. I don't know.

In spite of your political creed, it's you who are the gentleman.

No titles nowadays, of course, but yours was a noble line.

You are a prince of the church.

And you to interrogate me. Times have changed.

You were a hero to me in the Resistance, as you were to all of us.

Do you ever miss those days?

At least one was on the same side as all one's fellow countrymen.

I make no distinction between my fellow men.

Their service demands everything, and, I warn you, permits everything.

Is there a particular plot...

...or counterrevolution you hope to unmask?

Not unless you know of one.

You believe us harmless, yet require us discredited.

And the point of arresting me?

A cigarette? No, thank you.

If I may smoke my own, while they last?

Come, now. Drugged cigarettes already?

You see, you represent a religion...

...which provides an organization outside the state.

In your pulpit you are more dangerous than a politician.

With your war record, you're a national monument.

You are outside the party, and that monument must be...



You see? I show you my hand from the start.

Do you want to see mine?

I am difficult to trap and impossible to persuade.

I am tenacious, wary and proud.

Proud? Quite sinfully.

Of my record in dealings with your predecessors, the Gestapo.

I am tolerably inured to physical pain.

Well, they never caught me.

Your masters are in a hurry, I fancy.

People who plan to make heaven on earth usually are... hadn't we better come to the point?

Steven, bring me the completed confession, will you?


It'll give us some sort of agenda to work from.

You wouldn't care to sign it right away and save us trouble?

You know, you might just as well. I'd love to read it first, if I may.

Steven, I shall want you to stand by tonight.

Sit down...

...Your Eminence.

Come on, now. No dozing off. You can't do that, you know.

Very strict, your interrogator. No dozing off.

Walk up and down a bit, I should.

No talking to anyone but me and him.

Psychology, they call that. It's very modern.

Still, they say he always gets what he wants in the end... spite of his fancy ways of going about it.

Does he indeed?

You're being difficult, are you? I hope so.

Not guilty.

"Not me, I'm not like the others, officer. I'm not guilty."

You neither, I suppose? That's right.


Whatever they're in for, they've always got something on their conscience.

Political, that's your line. Not a very interesting one.

But you've got something on your conscience too.

Confidence trickster. That's your line.

Why do you say that? You hide yourself up your sleeve.

Yes, that's your line.

And what are you guilty of?

Don't be silly. I'm in the prison service.

Not guilty? Of course not.

Come on, now.

Shall I switch on the microphone, sir?

Will you want all this early stuff recorded?

"All this early stuff" he calls my fascinating psychological approach.

It is fascinating, sir.

I'm learning all the time.

All that easy manner and apparent friendliness.

Not just apparent, you have to be friends.

Which I have been.

Which I am.

Hypnotic nonsense.

I only wish that physical exhaustion wasn't so essential in the early stages.

All right, Steven, that's all.

Your Eminence, come in.

Have some coffee. No, thanks.

Some coffee, Your Eminence?


My health.

Afraid I shall slip you a truth drug?

Surely it's a confession you're after, not the truth.

I could drug you into stumbling out some form of words...

...but the foreign correspondence wouldn't be at all impressed.

And we shan't be needing any drugs.

Older methods?

Racks and thumbscrews?


...but not so long outdated.

Who do you think you're dealing with?

Some mad, sadistic moron in the Gestapo...

...with power to play with flesh and blood for his own lust?

I was a doctor before ever I was a lawyer.

Your body is sacred to me.

No drugs, no torture.

What can you hope for? Conversion.

It's your mind we want.

For the first time...

...since I've come into your prison...

...l'm afraid.

We can't talk here.

You didn't answer my letter. It's hopeless.

We can't go on seeing each other like that.

I love you, but you can't do this to a man!

Why do we always quarrel?

Yes, he got results in the past, but his methods take too much time.

Yes, and the people are getting restless.

Churches are full again.

They're falling back on their old ideas outside the regime.

He's got to be discredited, and soon.

We shall be late for the meeting. I warned the Ministry of Justice.

God, they know he's not guilty of anything. Well, you know he isn't.

Well, that's not for me to say.

My husband was right. There's no freedom here even to think.

So he got out, and you heard the last of him.

You love me, or you wouldn't have come here.

I shouldn't have come. I tried not to come.

Surely it's a confession you're after, not the truth.


He's got another eight-hour session in half an hour, sir.

Surely it's a confession you're after, not the truth.

You getting anything you can use from these recordings?

Just a word here and there at the moment, sir.

Confession, the truth.

Well, that won't take us very far. The general is asking for results.

It's bound to be a slow process, sir.

He's looking for a weak spot in his defences.

He'll find it.

If the church isn't deliberately obstructing the state...

...are you prepared to say it supports it?

It renders to the state the things that are the state's...

...and to God, the things that are God's.

You know you'll tire yourself out with this eternal being on your guard.

On my guard? Stop thinking of me as the inquisitor.

How do you wish me to think of you?

As your doctor.

To me, you're on a couch in my consulting room.

You're an enemy of society... the schizophrenic or the paranoiac.

You're dangerous because you mislead the poor...

...the uneducated and the silly.

But only because you're wrong-headed.

In time, we'll get to the root of the trouble, and you can be cured.

You believe it? Yes, I do believe it.

God give me cunning...

...against your skill.

God keep my watch.

Medical examination.

Good morning. And no talking to the doctor.

The pulse, fairly regular.

A little flutter, there's nothing to be alarmed about.

It's caused by the natural human impulse of fear.

You often find it among cases under threat of torture...

...physical or mental...

...and, of course, death.

Lungs quite all right.

Nothing to worry about there.

Continuous confinement is not usually recommended, of course.

The heart's very sound.

Yes, very sound indeed.

I hope.

You're not supposed to talk to the doctor.

But I know him. He used to work in the free orthopaedic clinic.

You were doing fine work there, doctor.

I know.

Things happen to us.


Tell me, have you examined the interrogator?

Because if I'm in for a long session, so is he.

Come in.

Good morning, general. Good morning.

Well? Well.

I was in an interrogation when you sent for me.

At 9 in the morning? It started at 2 a.m.

Resistance is at its lowest about that time.

Resistance would appear to be still pretty high.

You've had him for nearly three months without any result.

I'm not criticizing your methods.

They've been successful in the past.

But I must know how long they're going to take.

But I've told you, general, it's impossible to say.

In this case, we're dealing...

...with a particularly brilliant and subtle mind.

His spirit was proved indestructible by the Gestapo in the war.

Your progress reports tell me nothing.

I'm prepared to report that I am wasting hours, days, weeks...

...finding out what we can't use against him.

But I'm probing his mind for the one weakness that we can use.

To find that out, I've got to become his doctor, his confessor.

I've had to get to know him better than I know myself.

One casual phrase, one tiny slip may give us a clue.

Very well.

But remember this:

We took a very grave risk in arresting him.

There's unrest throughout the country over it.

The press keeps asking why there's no trial.

We cannot afford to fail with the cardinal.

I shan't fail, general.

You've had a hard life.

A hard life, the aristocrat to the priest.

Before dawn in the fish market at the age of 9.

But warm in school by 9:00 with the fat fruits of my scholarship.

Did your clothes smell of fish?

Heavens, that it should rile me still.

"Cod guts and mackerel blood, look.

There are squashed fish eyes sticking to his boots."

Dear little boys.

I used to go to the fish market with just my overalls on over my skin.

Even when the snow was up to our ankles.

And I bought every brand of soap I saw advertised.

I took the skin off my hands with disinfectant.

And then, "Sir, must I sit next to him? He stinks of fish."

Happy school days.

Blast you, you flaming little pest. General.

"School days," after weeks wasted.

You've no fixed date for the trial.

This is a difficult case. I can see that.

The time has come for other methods.

General, that's the stuff that martyrs are made of.

The only chink we'll find in that armour is in the mind.

I shan't give you much longer to try. Supposing you could break him...

...would a confession from a broken body... you much good in an open court?

We've got to have a confession...

...if it has to be from a corpse.

What is the policy of the Vatican towards our government?

Thank you.

Very refreshing.

What were we talking about? Oh, yes.

I meant to ask you...

I see here that you never took up a scholarship... won to the university at a fantastically early age. Why was that?

I had a vocation to the priesthood.

And you found that out suddenly between sitting for the scholarship...

...and winning it? No, I had always known it.

I had tried to evade it.


That's an odd question for a layman, surely.

I didn't think I was worthy.

So you won the scholarship...

...and then suddenly overnight...

...found you were worthy of the priesthood after all?


I found that, for me, I had to be a priest.

That and the next step and the next.

All my life, shirk nothing, duck nothing...

...overcome everything.

You sound tired...

...and afraid of yourself...

...not of us.



Please, I'm asking for the last time.


Your husband got out of the country with no permit, he can't come back.

You know that you can't get out of here.

I know I can't.

But that doesn't mean I have to be unfaithful to him.

You've not even heard from him. That doesn't mean he hasn't written.

Why do you see me at all?

It's always "no" in the end.

Because I'm an ordinary human being.

Look, can't you understand?

I like to go out sometimes and talk and dance.

Please, we've always been friends.

You've got lots of girlfriends.

No, wait. I'm sorry I said that.

Shut up in that infernal prison all day watching what goes on...'ll get so that you say things.

Come on.

Let's dance.

Let's enjoy ourselves, please.

You're making progress, you know? I'm sorry you should think so.

No, it's just that we're getting to know one another better.

Tell me about your first curacy.

St. Nicholas, wasn't it?

That was a working-class district I used to know well.

Rowdy political parties when I was a student.

Very progressive and matey we felt. But I could never get the ring...

...of conviction in my voice on those platforms.

Nor I in that pulpit.

Ashamed of preaching to the hungry, "Thou shalt not steal."

But, well, presumably that was a text that you practiced yourself.

Why do you say that?

What makes you say that?

Well, does it matter? No.

When did you steal?

Before I became a priest...

...but not long before.

I was very young in that pulpit.

What did you steal, soap?


Books for those scholarship exams.

Books and paper and pencils.

I used to look down into those faces below the pulpit...

...women mostly.

Women who weren't stealing...

...the things their men and their children needed.

Yes, but you needed the books. Ambition.

Not need.

Besides, I... Besides?

I always took the best.

The thick, shiny paper...

...and the pencils out of the sixpenny tray.

But surely you confessed all that off your conscience...

...before you became a priest. Oh, yes.

Besides, I found there was no need to look into their faces.

You could look between.

Do you never look into their eyes? Now?


One must learn to do these things.

The mall past the capitol. Secret meetings, slogans.

Propaganda being distributed.

This unrestful development rising.

Send out a general call to all district headquarters in central command... alert troops to reinforce the patrol duties.

Orders to fire over their heads?

Orders to disperse them.

Full discretion.

You shouldn't be seen reading that.

Banned this morning.

Oh, there you are.

I was afraid you weren't coming after all.

We're all on extra duties. There's some trouble boiling up.

They brought in more guards.



I hate your being in the prison service.

Makes it seem worse somehow.

Not just unfaithful...

...but we're the enemy.

That's treachery.

I can't get out, I've tried.

You don't... things yourself, do you?

Things are done.

Like forcing the cardinal to confess to treason so that they can have a trial?

I don't know how I can love you, being even near such work.

He could be right.

You want to believe he stands for things that are fine.

That you can trust him.

But what can people like you and me really know?

I do know that he's not a man you can force to anything.

If they get him to confess... can believe it's true. But you can't want it to be true.

If you're in the prison service, you'd rather think the police were right...

...than that the prisoners were.

You're saying that to justify yourself working for them.

Well, it won't justify you to me. He is innocent.

It will only prove this isn't a country anyone can live in.

If they can twist a man that far and he confesses...

...then I'd have to join my husband.


Don't talk about it.

We've got us to talk about.

The journalist on the paper banned this morning.

General, this is lunacy.

You'll admit now that there's a certain urgency?

The prisoner is not ready. It'll destroy weeks of work.

I have my orders, I have faith in them. You're a brilliant man, but conceited.

Conceit is dangerous. Conceit!

So is sentiment.

He's here, sir.

It has been decided to confront you with some evidence of your guilt...

...before you are brought to trial so that you may see...

...that the only course is to appeal to the mercy of the government... pleading guilty.

A street map of the centre of the capital, circles, secret arsenals...

...crosses on strong points, such as the church of St. Nicholas there...

...dominating the central railway viaduct.

Surely a good revolutionary would blow up a viaduct...

...not build a strong point to dominate it.

I must have lost my touch since I worked for the Resistance.

This is your handwriting, isn't it? It does look like it.

But this word appears to be spelled in the Italian way.

Possibly from a letter of mine to the Vatican...

...and thick nibs, thin nibs.

Almost as if someone had cut odd words out of old papers of mine...

...and stuck them on the margin of the map and photographed it.

A photograph of the cathedral crypt.

Marked on the map is an arsenal, if you remember...

...and dated in the corner.

The place was searched and photographed...

...the day you were arrested. The day I was arrested?

The feast of St. Fontanelle, the one day in the year...

...when the crypt is open to the public.

Next, Steven, please.

What did you steal?

Money given for the church to start sabotage and fomenting unrest...

... against the government.

Do you not at least admit that the whole weight of your authority...

... must logically be directed against the government?

Of course.

You must admit that a gramophone record cannot be tampered with.

I imagine not. You simply edit the tape recording, don't you?

And then re-record on disk.

Sound levels weren't too good, though, were they?

I've never seen a general, four ministers and a judge look silly... the same time.

Is that for the record? No.

How odd it is.

They're just shadows.

You're real.

You're beginning to feel that.

I don't know.

I'm tired.

Oh, God.

How could I forget? Go on forgetting, my friend.

This must end in tragedy. They lack the leadership that...

...we had in the Resistance.

Your world now... here.

Sir, the general's on the telephone.

Oh, what now?

This is the final idiocy, I'll stop this.

Oh, the fools!



If thou, O Lord, shall be extreme to remark what is done amiss.

I never learned to pray for her.

Shouldn't you...

...bless her? I?


She's still quite warm.

You had her killed.

You were the doctor to whom my body was so sacred!


Well? My body and hers are one.

I am admitting it to you here!

Look how I kiss her hand!

She's alive.

Yes, she's only anaesthetised.



I have the right to know.

I am her son. She's supposed to be someone I love.


Someone I love.

What do you expect to get from this?

The confession is ready for your signature.

And if I refuse to sign?

She will be sent to the...

...research hospital.

Is she ill?

She will be ill.

No signature, no confession.

I could have her left in your cell...

...until she comes around.

She wouldn't even try to plead with me.

You don't know us... mother and I.

You have an unnatural monster on your hands.

I do not love my mother.

I never have.

I thought all this...

...would lose me the foothold I'd gained with you.

I didn't think that it would be I that would be disgusted.

If she must...

...your mother may die of pain to save your immortal soul.

I was beginning to dislike my work.

I shan't dislike it now.

You're a hard man, Eminence.

You're a hard man.

We'll leave you alone with your thoughts for a while...

...Your Eminence.

Consider and hear me, O Lord, my God. Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep...

Lest I sleep the sleep of death.

Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him.

Rejoice not against me, O, mine enemy...

...when I fall I shall rise.

When I sit in darkness...

...the Lord shall be a light unto me.

What's this? To sleep on.

Interrogator's moving in...

...thinks we're running an hotel.

Thank you, warder.

You see, I want to watch every phase of his solitary confinement.

I suppose you'll be wanting shaving water and things?

Yeah, that's right.

I don't want to lose touch with his frame of mind.

I suppose the solitary confinement can go on as long as we like... that the trouble outside's calmed down.

It can go on until he wants to talk.

We're up against a good man.

He's got to show us where his weakness lies before we can use it... destroy him.


...we must wait.

Shall I take over from him for a bit, sir?

Not on your life.

He'll lose, in the end.

I've doctored those recordings within an inch of their lives, sir.

We shan't need them.

Every living soul in that sleeping city down there...

...could be broken if they had to be.

The subtler the mind, the more sensitive the conscience...

...the more surely they must be broken.

That's the fascination...

...and the pity of it.

Three sevens are 21, four sevens are 28, five sevens are 35...

...six sevens are 42, seven sevens are 49, nine...


Six sevens are 42, seven sevens are 49, eight sevens are 56...

What day is it?

How long is it since you brought me food?

You're fed according to the regulations.

12:00 dinner, 8:00 supper.

Not for days.

Three days.

That's why they've boarded the window.

To frighten me so that I can't tell.

No, it's just you've been allowed to sleep as much as you like.

It's muddled you up.

I can't get over what you're doing to that floor.

You're making a real show place of it.

I'll tell you what.

I'll get you a tin of polish and a proper cloth.

We had a fellow in solitary for a long time...

...he used to take a mop to bed with him at night and stroke its hair.

He got so he ate it up in the end and they had to put him away.

Have they given up?

Am I to be left here now to rot..., forever?

Is that it? Now, why should it be?

You finished already?

I'm gonna make a clock somehow.

Next time, I'll know how long you've left me alone.

Something running, something rolling.

Something round.

A clock. A cuckoo.

You need a cuckoo clock.

My granny had one.

I stuck its little door fast so it couldn't get out.

You could hear it whirling about inside.

Flying about.

I thought it was alive.



Look a bit different after a couple of months of solitary, don't they?

What time is it supposed to be now?

You haven't been out of this room five minutes.

What have you been up to?

Pick it up.

You worked up a pretty good appetite in five minutes.

Well, I was hungry, I hadn't eaten for three days.

Five minutes, you said. You're tricking me, trying to fool me!

Now, no violence!

You're not the violent sort.

How are you doing this to me?

Why am I...

...going out of my mind?

Well, it's funny, you know.

The more store a man sets by his wits, the sooner he loses them.

When a man starts watching his mind at work... can't leave him alone for 5 minutes...

...without he frightens himself to death.

Finished with it?

Oh, don't go.

What's the matter?

You should try and get some sleep.

I told you the switch is working here now, didn't I?

They always complain about the light at first...

...and when you tell them they can switch it off, they don't want to.

You get so you don't like the dark, don't you?


Not like the dark.

My good fellow... really think I'm afraid of the dark?

The dark.




Keep us, O Lord, while we wake...

...and guard us while we sleep...

...that we may watch with Christ and sleep in peace.

Get him to send for me again.

Get him to send for me.

No good to them if out of my mind.

Tell him he's got what he wanted.

The man on the psychiatrist's couch...

...wants to talk.


What are you trying to make me say?

You twist what I say!

You make me see myself as warped and crooked.

You, with your fake friendship!

Your friendship will talk.

And something knows I mustn't.

Talking for 15 hours.

Last kick, poor brute. I know the signs.



Nothing in this room. Now, look.

The things I have to drink for you.

48 hours.

I'm onto him now.

I've got him.

I can hold him for 48 hours.

They must stage the trial within that time.

But I get all that laid on. That's their business.

I've hooked him.

His weakness is humility.

And he, poor fool, thinks he's proud.

He'll pour it all out now, all his imagined vices.

I can play him. And land him.

But they must be ready when I give the word.

It's a pity it's a sport that has to be played with living men.

What are you fighting?

Why do you hate yourself?

I know you, I don't hate you.

You must. I'm supposed to, but I can't.

You don't love your fellow men, do you?


Is that it, or is it something deeper?

You've no delight in your God, have you, nor never had?


Is that why you hate yourself?

Your heroism in the Resistance...

...was that just to convince yourself, to prove yourself to yourself?

Why should you do that?

What must you keep proving?

The flesh...

...not weak.

What are you ashamed of?


A priest?

Even so. Thank God, no.

Not in the corners of your mind?

Not alive, pulsing in the dark?

Not veiled, buried, drowned, waiting?


You think all your life was a fašade.

What are you hiding? Why are you ashamed?

Unclean flesh.

Yes, yes.

My body...

...of her flesh and blood.

Your mother?

Behind the fish market?

Oh, she was married.

I was legitimate.

But I knew how it had always been.

Everyone knew.

In my little room, at night...

...listening to the new feet blundering up the stairs.

The whispering and the smothered laughter...

...behind the stupid flowered paper on the wall!

My body of her flesh.

Oh, I put a scholar's gown on it...

...wrapped it in a cassock...

...tried to cover it.

And then, success.

To justify the pride, something...

...always to prove...

...what wasn't there.

Not there?

No heart.

There's no love in some of us.

Don't you think I'd have found it if there were?

Your mother's sin, your shame for her and for yourself.

Is that all?

Only the start.

Why did I become a priest?

You think the decision was easy?

Look, the day I heard I'd won the university scholarship...

...and had to choose between that and the priesthood...

...I tried to kill myself. Why?


Because I knew the university was second-best.

I wanted to serve no less than God.

They should have let me die.

I became a priest...

...because I wanted to start again.

I wanted to feel free.

I wanted to feel clean.

So that was it.

I wanted to justify myself to myself.

To me...

...not to God.

And then?

I succeeded.

I can serve men or God or my country...

...but I can't care.

You fake.

The hero of the Resistance...

...who outwitted the Gestapo for his own vanity.

The martyr for the church whose only resistance is for his own pride.

His Eminence, the cardinal...

...who could steal the estimation of the world to justify...

...a miserable little tyke of a backstreet drab who smelled of fish!


Did you preach forgiveness up in your pulpit?

Forgiveness for those who stole? Of course.

Didn't they have to give back what they'd stolen?


...can you give back...


Deface the national monument?

Tell them...

...tell the world, as you've told me...

...that your whole life was a fake?

But you couldn't do that.

There'd be nothing left.


Tell them you betrayed them in the war...

...that they could understand.

It isn't true. Does it matter?


It's a mad world.

If you really want to start again, as low as the gutter you came from...

...why not tell them that in the war, you betrayed them?

I betrayed them?

Oh, God.

Would you have the courage to say it in open court?

I don't know.

It couldn't be done.

Don't mock me.

Of course, if you threw in enough politics to leaven the loaf...

...they'd eat it.

I mustn't confess! You mustn't confess?

You mustn't weaken, you, so certain of yourself when you came here...

...with your wit and your sacred hands and your insufferable conceit.

That's it, isn't it?

Let them see me in the weakness of the flesh...

...and the meanness of the spirit!

That would be degradation.

That would be shame enough to burn the past...

...and come through the fire free.

That's hysteria.

No. No, God...

Forgive me a moment.

I can't hypnotize you into saying anything you think is wrong.

Remember that.

Do you believe that this is what you must do?

Only this way.

Not drugged nor hypnotized...

...nor hysterical.

Sane and whole.

And with the courage, with the grace of God.

To make restitution in my own way.

I can't believe he'll confess to anything.

He won't, you wait.

He would never have staged a trial if he wasn't ready to confess.

I knew him in the war.

He may have let them think they've got him...

...but they will find he can put this bullring to his own use.

It's better than the pulpit, you wait.

Has the prisoner read the charges against him?

Yes, I have heard the charges, and I confess.


He hasn't yet said what he's confessing to.

First, we will take your personal life as a priest.

You became a priest, did you not, for your own glory?


And all your service to the church was to your own ambition?

Yes, my ambition.

How can you make people understand that?

As a priest, did you misuse money given to the church?

Yes, I confess to that.

The secrets of the confessional, did you use those to extort blackmail?


And did you sell such information to the police?


So all your life as a priest was a fake?

Yes. Now, to make us understand that...

...tell us about your public life.

Tell us about your war record.

I worked for the Resistance.

Oh, yes, you worked for the Resistance.

And in the end, you betrayed us.

Tell the court, Your Eminence...

...did you betray the Resistance to the Gestapo?

The links with the Allies, the chain that led out of the country.

In the end, I betrayed them all.

No one knew what kind of a man you were, did they?

No one knew that you were reporting to the Gestapo...

...did they?

You were still able to go on keeping in touch with the Allies, weren't you?


Do you deny that, since the war, you have still kept secretly in touch...

...with foreign governments? No.

Have you received money from them to foment sabotage and unrest?

Have you?

Yes, I... Look at the people!

Your own people!

Before, during and since the war, have you deserved their faith?

Have you betrayed them?

I have betrayed them.

It isn't true.

It isn't true.


Do you want to start again, as low as the gutter you came from?

Throw in enough politics...

... they'll eat it.

So you have confessed to every charge of personal corruption...

...and public treason brought against you?

I have confessed enough.

And that you aimed to set up a government with yourself at its head.

The worst you can find to say.

Is it not enough?

Counsel for the defence?

After such a confession...

...the prisoner can only throw himself on the mercy of the court.

Not on the mercy of this court.

Upon the mercy of God.

Oh, God...

...let me go mad.

Let me go mad.

How does he seem?


He was broken by a half-truth...

...a distorted truth. He was too humble.

He believed it when I told him his whole world was built on pride.

A proud man would have been more sceptical.

Have you seen the press, sir? Congratulations.


...l've trained you well.

I suppose, in time, you will come to drive a brilliant mind... pray for madness.

It had to be done, sir. Oh, yes, it had to be done.

You're just feeling the reaction after the trial.

Mustn't let a little squeamishness spoil your triumph.

Been good as gold these last few days.

Hey, you get back to your murderer in number eight...

...leave my cardinal alone.

Not that he'll be anybody's cardinal after 8:00.

Yours goes before mine, doesn't he?


Double damask. Patterned, both sides.

You like it? Very handsome.

That's an expert's opinion.

Like altar linen, eh?

When I was a choirboy...

...if you used so much as a corner to wipe your nose on, they'd murder you.


I'll try and do it justice. That's the spirit.

Of course, there's a lot of waste with these breakfasts...

...but we finish it up after.

My mate, he said, "Let's give him kippers.

We've got to eat it, we might as well have what we fancy."

I said, " No, he's gonna have what he fancies for his last meal on earth.

Kidneys, that'll be his taste."

You're a good soul. Oh, I don't know, a job's a job.

You've got to go to bed at night with your mind easy.

What time is the execution?

Oh, no orders yet.

How long, as a rule, after breakfast?

Oh, half an hour maybe.

But there's another to go before you.

Since the war, we've been so busy, everything's gone to pot.

You swallow all right?

We had a young chap once...

...he'd killed three sailors with a handspike... a fight on the docks.

He was a nice, quiet kid, but he couldn't swallow.

Nervous stricture, the doctor said.

Hanging, you see?

I put that right. I said, " Lad...

...they've changed your sentence.

They've brought one of them electric chairs from America."

He ate like a wolf after that.

Standing up, you know?

You don't want to waste them good kidneys.

Shall I be allowed a priest before I die?

Must tell the lads that.

Oh, you're a good sport.

I hate a man who can't take it with a grin.

"Shall I be allowed a priest?"

Oh, I'll miss you when you're gone.

You've never been any trouble.

Well, hardly any.

What's this?

Look here... Your instructions.

He's got to have time for his breakfast, the man got kidneys.

That's civilization, it always has been. Read them, outside.


I find it hard to forgive my enemies, and I haven't long.

Have you forgiven yourself?

Oh, no.

But I believe I shall be forgiven.

He who will judge us is he who made us.

You've found peace of mind.

Perhaps you should thank me.

The doctor who diagnosed the weakness?

Perhaps I should.

Shall I be allowed a priest before I die?

There'll be no need.

I beg of you, let me see a priest.

You're not to die.


I am to be hanged.

Your sentence has been commuted.

What are they afraid of, martyrdom?

No one can make the world see me as a martyr now.

It has been commuted.

I had so eased my mind with the thought of death...

...I can't see beyond it.

You're free to go.

The gates will be opened, you have only to walk out.

No, no, they wouldn't risk it.

What I might say. What, that you were talked into it?

That you used my mother?

She was already in the hospital when you were arrested... haven't kept in very close touch.

Is there news of her, is the disease fatal?

They think not. Thank God.

Nothing you can say can harm the government.

Dead, you might be a martyr.

In prison, you'd be an enigma.

But free, sane, walking the world...

Walking the world like Cain, branded.

No. Suicide.

They hope I'll take my life so they can say...

...I committed the last cowardice of all.

I shan't do that, you know?

No, I didn't think you would. No.

I might live...

...for 20, 30 years.

Yes, it's one thing I never thought of.

It's more terrible than anything I could have thought of.

I could pretend to call to the warder for help as I fire.

Do you want to pray?

You'd do it? Do you want to pray?

I must not ask you... do murder.

You're offering me...


And I thought of you... an animal to be put out of its pain.

Do you want to face the world outside?


But I must.

So the laugh is on me.

You go out from under my hands...

...a stronger man than when you came to me.

Medical discharge certificate.


It shook me, I don't mind telling you. Give it to me.

All right, doctor, I'll examine him myself.


Remember, that's an ex-prisoner, that is.


Do you realize what I did then?

I hid what I was doing from the prison staff.

Indulging in secret treachery.

What have you done to me?

That, from you? Oh, I realized the dangers.

I had to get so close to you it was like two sides of the same man...

...talking to each other.

But to let sympathy for the side that was you take over...

...even for a moment...

...from sheer sentiment...

To risk losing everything I'd worked for and achieved...

It means...'ve defeated me.

You're no convert.

For you, your cause will always be right.

And what use to my cause is a man who is too fastidious to trust?


...I shan't wait to let them find that out.

Your certificate of physical and mental health.

An appropriate use for my last official signature.

It doesn't make sense. You pulled it off, you'll get recognition.

Thank you, but I still want to resign. Why?

All right.

I don't choose to wait until you put people in my house...

...and on my staff to watch me.

Rustling through my papers, tapping my telephone.

Should we?



...10 minutes ago, I offered to shoot him... spare him the agony of the heavier sentence, release.

I see.

Yes, you're right.

How can either of us tell what that capacity for pity...

...may lead me to do in the future.

Servants of the state can't pick and choose.

Well, I can't half serve a cause.

The aristocrat? No.

The fanatic.

I shall have to take this higher up.

Do you mind waiting in there?

There's a reception committee and a half waiting for you out there.

Hundreds of them...

...standing there, dead still...

...all looking this way, waiting.

Fairly gives you the creeps.

Ready, sir?

I'll have them open up for you.

See if you can get rid of the kidneys.

He thought I'd like them.


...not to judge the priesthood... the priest.

Any confession I may be said to have made in prison will be a lie...

... or the result of human weakness.