American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"This Land is Mine" (1943)


Mr. Albert Lory Delivers Final Remarks in Court


Mr. Albert Lory: Excuse me, Your Honor, it's a forgery. I know all about that letter, but I didn't know it was going to be mailed to the prosecutor. I -- I mean, I didn't know --

Prosecutor: Quiet, you fool.

Judge: Just one moment, Mr. Prosecutor. What do you mean, Lory?

Mr. Lory: The letter is forged, Your Honor. Major von Keller told me last night.

Prosecutor: He's out of his mind. The man's insane.

Mr. Lory: No, Your Honor, I'm not insane. The prosecutor wrote that letter to himself. I think he's trying to save my life.

[Courtroom erupts in laughter]

Prosecutor: This is no laughing matter. Your Honor, for the sake of the dignity of this court, I respectfully ask that the man who started that unseemly outburst be forcefully removed from the room.

Judge: The court agrees with you, Mr. Prosecutor. Which of you started that laughter? Please stand up. I ask you again -- who started that laughter?!

Mr. Lory: Excuse me, Your Honor, I don't know but I think I can guess. Maybe it was the Unknown Soldier.

Judge: Proceed, Mr. Lory.

Mr. Lory: Thank you, Sir. I found out last night that I'm a very lucky man. This is the only place left in my country where a man can still speak out, standing where I stand now.

Prosecutor: Excuse me, Your Honor. I ask that the courtroom be cleared.

Mr. Lory: He's afraid, Your Honor. He wants to deprive me of my last chance to speak. I know I am a condemned man. I know I must die. Are you going to let me speak, Your Honor? Or are you afraid, too?

Prosecutor: I demand that the courtroom be cleared.

Judge: [After briefly weighing the matter]. Proceed, Mr. Lory.

Mr. Lory:  Thank you. Thank you, Sir. I'm a very lucky man. Last night, I had a moment of weakness. Oh, I wanted to live. I had very good reasons to live. Major von Keller told me beautiful things about the future of this world they're building. I almost believed him. But it's very hard for people like you and me to understand what is evil and what is good. It's easy for the working people to understand who the enemy is because the aim of this invasion and this occupation is to make them slaves.

But middle-class people like us can easily believe, as George Lambert did, that the German victory is not such a bad thing. Well, we hear people say that too much liberty brings chaos and disorder. And that's why I was tempted last night by Major von Keller when he came to my cell.

But this morning, I looked out through bars and I saw this beautiful new world working. I saw ten men die because they still believed in freedom. Among them was a man I loved -- Professor Sorel. He smiled and waved at me as if he were telling me what to do. I knew then I had to die. And the strange thing is, I was happy.

Prosecutor: Your Honor, I demand an adjournment. I object to this insane talk.

Judge: Quiet, please.

Mr. Lory:  Those ten men died because of Paul Martin. But they didn't blame Paul Martin -- they were proud of him. Paul was a soldier, without glory, but in a wonderful cause. I see now that sabotage is the only weapon left to a defeated people. And so long as we have saboteurs, the other free nations who are still fighting on the battlefronts will know that we are not defeated.

Oh, I know that for every German killed many of our innocent citizens are executed, but the example of their heroism is contagious and our resistance grows.

Oh, it's very easy to talk about heroism in the free countries. But it's hard to talk about it here where our people are starving. The hard truth is, the hungrier we get the more we need our heroes. We must stop saying that sabotage is wrong, that it doesn't pay. It does pay. It makes us suffer, starve, and die. But though it increases our misery, it will shorten our slavery.

That's our hard choice, I know. But even now they are bringing more troops into town because of the trouble that has started. And the more German soldiers there are here, the less they have on the fighting fronts. Even an occupied town like this can be a fighting front, too. And the fighting is harder. We not only have to fight hunger and a tyrant -- first, we have to fight ourselves.

The occupation -- any occupation, in any land -- is only possible because we are corrupt. And I accuse myself first. For my own comfort and security I made no protest against the mutilation of truth in our school books. My mother got me extra food and milk, and I accepted it without facing the fact that I was depriving children and people poorer than we were of their portion.

Now, you're the butcher, Mr. Noble. Naturally, you wanted to survive and the black market was your answer. You keep your business going by selling meat out the back door at ten times its price -- some to my mother, who is equally guilty as I was in eating it.

Now you, Mr. Millett, are doing very well in your hotel even though it's filled with Germans. You've never sold so much champagne -- and at such a good price. Of course, they print the money for nothing. But with this money, you are buying property.

Just as the mayor is.

I could say the same about many of you.

If the occupation lasts long enough, the men who are taking advantage of it will own the town. I don't blame you for making money, but you should blame yourselves for making the occupation possible. Because you cannot do these things without playing into the hands of the real rulers of the town -- the Germans!

That's why I know you must condemn me to die --  not because I killed George Lambert, which I didn't, but because I've tried to tell the truth. And the truth can't be allowed to live under the occupation. It's too dangerous. The occupation lives upon lies, as the whole evil world they call the "New Order" does. Officially, you'll find me guilty of murder. But don't worry, my friends. Even if you were to acquit me, and I would walk out of this court a free man, the enemy would take me and put me up against a wall -- and you too. They can find any reason to take hostages.

Oh, there's one final charge I must answer to -- and I'm very guilty.

Yesterday, I was ashamed when the prosecutor accused me of loving you, Louise. I've always loved you secretly. But now I'm not ashamed. I am proud of it. I don't want to keep it a secret. I want to tell the whole world. I don't feel silly at all. Maybe it's because I'm going to die. But I feel very young. You know, Major von Keller said a very funny thing to me last night. He told me I wasn't a coward. I think he was right.

And I'm not the only one who's not a coward. This town is full of courage. I am proud of it. I am proud to be born and die here.

Thank you, Your Honor.

Note: Thanks to R.N.Wightman for suggesting this movie source

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HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.