Decision Against Time (1957) Poster

Elizabeth Sellars: Mary Mitchell


  • [John Mitchell has successfully landed the stricken plane that he was test-flying, despite being urged by senior management to abandon the plane and save himself by bailing out] 

    Mary Mitchell : You didn't *have* to do it. They didn't *want* you to do it. They even begged you not to *try* to do it, and *still* you did it. Why? What in heaven's name were you thinking about? Didn't you give a single thought to what it would mean to us if you were killed? Didn't you *care* whether you were killed? Were you trying to kill yourself?

    [Mary runs out of the room and John follows her] 

    John Mitchell : For thirty-five minutes. For thirty-five bloody minutes I sat up there thinking of *nothing* but you and the boys, and saving my own skin so that I could go *on* having you and the boys. How *dare* you say a thing like that to me! Now listen to this. I admit it was stupid to try to pretend it wasn't bad. In fact I'll tell you how bad it was. It was the worst thing I've ever known. I've never wanted anything so much in this life as I wanted to get out of that aircraft. For the last ten minutes I thought that the chances were a hundred-to-one against pulling it off. The instant I touched down, I felt only one thing: surprised at being alive. You asked me if I thought of you and the boys. I only *did* it for you and the boys. Now listen to this. Let's get this clear. There were plenty of reasons for me to stay with that aircraft - good reasons. It was my duty to try that landing so long as there was a chance in a hundred. I don't give a *damn* what any other man would have done. It was a question of loyalty, of loyalty to Reg, the company and a hundred and twenty other people who've built the aircraft. And I didn't stay with it for those reasons. Not for *any* of those reasons. I stayed with it because the alternative was to come home and tell you I'd got into trouble in the air today so I'd abandoned the aircraft, and the company's out of business. Is *that* what you would have had me do? Well that would have been the end. I should have spent the rest of my life never quite looking you or the boys in the face again - or myself, that that matter. A man who quit when there was still a chance - that's what I would have been. And that's what you and the boys would have had. If I had been killed, it would have been better for the three of you than if I'd bailed-out and quit. Can't you understand that? The man who said "better a live coward than a dead hero" *was* a live coward. Can't you understand that?

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