Colonel Saito: Do not speak to me of rules. This is war! This is not a game of cricket!
Commander Shears: [to Nurse] You give me powders, pills, baths, injections, enemas; when all I need is love.
Major Shears: You make me sick with your heroics! There's a stench of death about you. You carry it in your pack like the plague. Explosives and L-pills - they go well together, don't they? And with you it's just one thing or the other: destroy a bridge or destroy yourself. This is just a game, this war! You and Colonel Nicholson, you're two of a kind, crazy with courage. For what? How to die like a gentleman... how to die by the rules - when the only important thing is how to live like a human being.
Colonel Nicholson: One day the war will be over. And I hope that the people that use this bridge in years to come will remember how it was built and who built it. Not a gang of slaves, but soldiers, British soldiers, Clipton, even in captivity.
Colonel Saito: Be happy in your work.
Commander Shears: I'd say the odds against a successful escape are about 100 to one. But may I add another word, Colonel? The odds against survival in this camp are even worse.
Commander Shears: I can think of a lot of things to call Saito, but "reasonable"... that's a new one.
Colonel Nicholson: It is quite understandable; it's a very natural reaction. But one day - in a week, a month, a year - on that day when, God willing, we all return to our homes again, you're going to feel very proud of what you have achieved here in the face of great adversity. What you have done should be, and I think will be, an example to all our countrymen, soldier and civilian alike. You have survived with honor - that, and more - here in the wilderness. You have turned defeat into victory. I congratulate you. Well done.
Colonel Nicholson: What have I done?
Colonel Saito: Do you know what will happen to me if the bridge is not built on time?
Colonel Nicholson: I haven't the foggiest.
Colonel Saito: I'll have to kill myself. What would you do if you were me?
Colonel Nicholson: I suppose if I were you... I'd have to kill myself.
Colonel Nicholson: [raising the glass of scotch he previously declined] Cheers!
Colonel Green: You were an accountant in Montreal?
Lieutenant Joyce: Yes, sir. Uh, not really an accountant, sir. That is, I didn't have my charter.
Colonel Green: Exactly what did you do?
Lieutenant Joyce: Well, sir, I just checked columns and columns of figures which three or four people had checked before me, and then there were other people who checked them after I had checked them.
Colonel Green: Sounds a frightful bore.
Lieutenant Joyce: Sir, it was a frightful bore.
Major Clipton: The fact is, what we're doing could be construed as - forgive me sir - collaboration with the enemy. Perhaps even as treasonable activity. Must we work so well? Must we build them a better bridge than they could have built for themselves?
Colonel Nicholson: I've been thinking. Tomorrow it will be twenty-eight years to the day that I've been in the service. Twenty-eight years in peace and war. I don't suppose I've been at home more than ten months in all that time. Still, it's been a good life. I loved India. I wouldn't have had it any other way. But there are times when suddenly you realize you're nearer the end than the beginning. And you wonder, you ask yourself, what the sum total of your life represents. What difference your being there at any time made to anything. Hardly made any difference at all, really, particularly in comparison with other men's careers. I don't know whether that kind of thinking's very healthy; but I must admit I've had some thoughts on those lines from time to time. But tonight... tonight!
Major Clipton: Madness! Madness!
Colonel Saito: All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
Colonel Saito: A word to you about escape. There is no barbed wire. No stockade. No watchtower. They are not necessary. We are an island in the jungle. Escape is impossible. You would die.
Commander Shears: You mean, you intend to uphold the letter of the law, no matter what it costs?
Colonel Nicholson: Without law, Commander, there is no civilization.
Commander Shears: That's just my point; here, there is no civilization.
Colonel Nicholson: Then we have the opportunity to introduce it.
Colonel Saito: I hate the British! You are defeated but you have no shame. You are stubborn but you have no pride. You endure but you have no courage. I hate the British!
Major Reeves: By the way, sir, I meant to tell you, there are trees in this forest very similar to elm. And the elm piles of London Bridge lasted six hundred years.
Colonel Nicholson: Six hundred years, Reeves?
Major Reeves: Yes, sir.
Colonel Nicholson: Six hundred years... That would be quite something.
[Major Clipton has given up arguing with Colonel Nicholson that building the bridge could be viewed as collaboration with the enemy]
Colonel Nicholson: You're a fine doctor, Clipton, but you've a lot to learn about the army.
Colonel Nicholson: I'm adamant. I will not have an officer from my battalion working as a coolie.
Colonel Nicholson: I realize how difficult it's going to be in this god-forsaken place where you can't find what you need, but there's the challenge.
Colonel Nicholson: We can teach these barbarians a lesson in Western methods and efficiency that will put them to shame. We'll show them what the British soldier is capable of doing.
Nurse at Ceylon hospital: What makes you so sure you'll get a medical discharge?
Commander Shears: Because I'm a civilian at heart, lover, and I always follow my heart.
Colonel Nicholson: I tell you, gentlemen, we have a problem on our hands.
Colonel Green: Good show! Jolly good show, Major!
Colonel Green: As I've told you before, in a job like yours, even when it's finished, there's always one more thing to do.
Colonel Nicholson: Queer bird... even for an American.
Maj. Warden: I belong to a rather rum group called Force 316. Our headquarters is up in the botanical gardens.
Commander Shears: Protecting rare plants from the enemy?
Maj. Warden: [to Col. Green] Sir, it's most annoying. They say, in view of the time element, they don't think a few practice jumps would be worthwhile.
Major Shears: No?
Maj. Warden: No, they say if you make one jump, you've only got 50% chance of injury, two jumps, 80%, and three jumps, you're bound to catch a packet. The consensus of opinion is that the most sensible thing for Major Shears to do is to go ahead and jump, and hope for the best.
Major Shears: With or without a parachute?
Commander Shears: [referring to Col. Saito, who had a machine gun brought up to threaten Col. Nicholson and his officers] He's going to do it, believe me, he's really going to do it!
Commander Shears: I'm getting worse, you know. Sometimes I think I'm Admiral Halsey.
Colonel Nicholson: Now, there's another important decision that can't be postponed. As most of the British soldiers will be working on the bridge, only a small number will be available for railway work. So, I must ask you, Colonel Saito, to lend us some of your own men to reinforce the railway gang, so that the final stretch of track can be completed as quickly as possible.
Colonel Saito: I have already given the order.
Colonel Nicholson: We must fix the daily work quota for your men. At first I thought of setting it at a yard and a half, so as not to overtire them, but don't you think it would be best if we make it the same as the British soldiers? That would also create a healthy competitive spirit.
Colonel Saito: I have already given the order.
Maj. Warden: [lowering binoculars] Kill him... Kill him!
Major Shears: [screaming] KILL HIM! KILL HIM!
Nurse at Ceylon hospital: [both characters are on the beach, discussing the evening's plans] I know, you're terribly sorry, but you'll have to break our date tonight.
Major Shears: You couldn't be more wrong!
Colonel Saito: You are defeated but you have no shame. You are stubborn but you have no pride. You endure but you have no courage.