Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Franchot Tone: Byam
[Byam enters the courtroom and sees that the midshipman's dirk on the table points toward him; he knows that he has been condemned to death]
Lord Hood : Have you anything to say before the sentence of this court is passed upon you?
Byam : Milord, much as I desire to live, I'm not afraid to die. Since I first sailed on the Bounty over four years ago, I've know how men can be made to suffer worse things than death, cruelly, beyond duty, beyond necessity.
[turns to Captain Bligh]
Byam : Captain Bligh, you've told your story of mutiny on the Bounty, how men plotted against you, seized your ship, cast you adrift in an open boat, a great venture in science brought to nothing, two British ships lost. But there's another story, Captain Bligh, of ten cocoanuts and two cheeses. A story of a man who robbed his seamen, cursed them, flogged them, not to punish but to break their spirit. A story of greed and tyranny, and of anger against it, of what it cost.
[turns to Lord Hood]
Byam : One man, milord, would not endure such tyranny.
[turns again to Captain Bligh]
Byam : That's why you hounded him. That's why you hate him, hate his friends. And that's why you're beaten. Fletcher Christian's still free.
[back to Lord Hood]
Byam : Christian lost, too, milord. God knows he's judged himself more harshly than you could judge him.
[turns to Fletcher Christian's father]
Byam : I say to his father, "He was my friend. No finer man ever lived."
[addresses the court again]
Byam : I don't try to justify his crime, his mutiny, but I condemn the tyranny that drove 'im to it. I don't speak here for myself alone or for these men you condemn. I speak in their names, in Fletcher Christian's name, for all men at sea. These men don't ask for comfort. They don't ask for safety. If they could speak to you they'd say, "Let us choose to do our duty willingly, not the choice of a slave, but the choice of free Englishmen." They ask only the freedom that England expects for every man. If one man among you believe that - *one man* - he could command the fleets of England, He could sweep the seas for England. If he called his men to their duty not by flaying their backs, but by lifting their hearts... their... That's all.
Lt. Fletcher Christian : There's something I want you to do.
Byam : Gladly. What is it?
Lt. Fletcher Christian : One never knows what may happen on a voyage like this. If, for any reason, I don't return to England, I want you to see my parents.
Byam : Well, why shouldn't you return to England.
Lt. Fletcher Christian : Why? Because I can't stand this devil's work much longer. One day I'll forget this discipline and break his neck.
Byam : Wait until we're back in England. The Admiralty will save you the trouble.
Lt. Fletcher Christian : Well, in any case, I'd like you to see my parents.
Byam : Of course. Where do they live?
Lt. Fletcher Christian : In Cumberland at Maincordare. I've almost forgotten what the old place looks like. I haven't seen in ten years. But I do remember a tapestry in the hall with ships and islands on it. Perhaps that's what sent me off to sea. I don't know. In any case, I'd like you to see my home. If anything should happen, tell my father and mother that you knew me.
Byam : You can count on me.