Major Barbara

Synopsis: A young and idealistic woman, who has adopted the Salvation Army and whose father is an armament industrialist, will save more souls directing her father's business. A comedy with social commentary.
Genre: Comedy
Production: Criterion Collection
  1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
121 min

[Crowd Chattering]

The ancient Greeks

considered it unseemly...

- to give public praise to women

for their good looks... - ## [Band]

but apparently thought it

did no harm to young men.

Note that, unlike our own popular playwrights

in England and the United States...

the great Athenians scorned what we call " love

interest" and regarded sex appeal as indecent.


Listen to the words put into the

mouth of Aeschylus by Aristophanes.

He boasts of how he made the Greeks crave

like lions to dash at the face of the foe...

and leap to the call of the trumpet.

But no Stenoboea I have given you,

no. No Phaedra, no heroine strumpet.

[Exhales] It's no use. This

open-air experiment's no good.

Or else I haven't the knack

of attracting an audience.

## [Band Continues]

- I'm afraid I must have bored you terribly.

- No, no, sir. No, no.

You sounded a bit heathenish at first, almost

as if you believed in them queer old gods.

I talked to my missus about it.

You see, sir, she's keen on the Salvation

Army and likes good, serious talk.

But when you said last Sunday

that God was there all along...

whatever they called him,

I knew it was all right.

I never thought much of myself as a speaker,

but I've never lost my whole audience before.

Oh, not at all, sir. I've heard worse.

But there's two things that no

speaker can stand up against.

What are they, may I ask?

One's a band, the other's a fight.

Salvation Army knows that.

They always has a band.

Well, I'm off-duty now that

your meeting's over, sir.

- I'll, uh, take you across, if you like.

- Thank you.

There's a special

attraction this Sunday.

- There's, uh, Major Barbara.

- Major Barbara.

- How can a woman be a major?

- Oh, she can in the Army, sir.

Or a sergeant, or a

colonel, or even a general.

- Really?

- Yes.

If you want a tip or two on how

to gather a meeting and hold it...

you might do worse than hear

her take the Sunday service.

Mmm. I will. I've a fancy for

collecting religious experiences.

- Yeah.

- ## [Band Ends]

Amid all the poverty and

ugliness of our lives here...

the sin and the suffering...

the grime and the smoke,

the toil and the struggle...

you know, and I know...

that God is with us

always and everywhere.

We don't need a cathedral

to worship him in.

Here, beneath God's open sky,

we can draw nearer to him.

Some of you feel him

near you even now...

and feel, too, how much you need him.

Won't you let him come

into your life now, today...

as so many have done before?

You want his strength,

his guidance, his comfort.

And you'll need his

forgiveness and friendship.

Some of you turn away from him in

bitterness at the hardship of your lives...

saying that you do not want God.

You want happiness and beauty.

God will give you both.

There is no beauty like the

beauty of the newly saved...

who has found the

unspeakable happiness...

that only the consciousness of

God's presence and love can give.

We, in the Army, have our daily trials.

Most of us are as poor as you are.

But we all are happy, and the mark of

that happiness is on us all for you to see.

The rich are not happy.

The poor have only to reach out their

hands for God's happiness and take it.

Is there anyone here

who has courage enough...

to raise his hand as a sign that

he would like us to pray for him?

Make the decision now.

In your need and loneliness...

God can meet with you.

There must be someone here who feels

that he should raise his hand...

but it isn't easy.

It's the easiest thing

in the world to do.

You've done it often enough...

to beckon to your child

or to stop a trolley car.

You feel too shy perhaps.

Never mind. I will pray for him.

And God will give him

the courage of a lion.

Come. Do not keep God waiting.

Thousands have done it.

And if you can find me one who has

done it and been sorry afterwards...

I will put off this dear

uniform and never pray again.

Come. Come.

I know there is someone.

Ah. I found him.

Let the brave gentleman

come to the front.

Make room for him, please.

[Crowd Murmuring]

Give me your hand, dear brother.

Will you come with me to our

shelter where we'll pray together?

Friends, you will now sing...

"How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds."

# How sweet the name of Jesus sounds #

# In a believer's ear #

- Close the door, please.

- ## [Continues, Faint]

Won't you sit down?

Now, before we pray a little together...

may I tell you to forget

that we've never met before?

You mustn't be shy and distant with me.

I can see that all's well with you.

I can see in your face the new happiness

that has just come into your life.

You're a new man. You're

saved. You feel that, don't you?

Listen to me, Major Barbara.

I'm, uh... I'm here on false pretenses.

It is true that a new happiness

has come into my life...

a happiness which I

never quite believed in...

that, at any rate, I thought

would never come into my life.

- It has come.

- Thank God.

Take care. It hasn't

made me a better man.

It's made me an utterly

unscrupulous one.

- What do you mean?

- Look at me.

Look deep into my eyes.

Is the new happiness that you see there

the kind of happiness you're thinking of?

It must be. There's no

other happiness like it.

It gladdens my heart because,

under God, I have brought it there.


Now, let me warn you that I

am a scholar and a gentleman.

I'm as poor as a church

mouse, like all scholars.

I'm no good for anything in

the way of worldly success.

But what does that matter?

We're all poor here.

We never think of money or success.

When all our money's

spent, we pray for more.

And it comes. It always comes.

Take your mind off such things.

And now...

shall we pray together?

I never pray. At least, not in your way.

The new thing that's come

to me is not that I'm saved.

I was saved when I was five years old,

when I first swallowed your religion.

Since then I've swallowed 20

religions. It's my life's work.

I'm interested in the

essence of all religions...

not in their catchwords or in yours.

Let us find it for you here. We can.

Nonsense. I have more to teach you

about religion than you can yet imagine.

You think so?

Then why have you come here with me?

Why did you hold up your hand?

Because I have impulses

that I cannot explain.

They come very seldom, but when

they come, nothing can stop me.

There's an end of my conscience,

of my prudence, of my reason.

Such an impulse seized

me the moment I saw you.

You may be poor. Our table

manners may be different.

Our relatives may not mix.

Probably everything is against our

associating with each other. No matter.

I'm going to join the Army. I will

put on a uniform and beat the drum.

In short, I am hopelessly and

forever in love with you...

and will follow you to the end

of the world until you marry me.

Is that plain?


And now will you begin

by seeing me home?

I should like to put you through your

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George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist, and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Man and Superman (1902), Pygmalion (1912) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic. Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society and became its most prominent pamphleteer. Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, Arms and the Man in 1894. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes that included Major Barbara, The Doctor's Dilemma and Caesar and Cleopatra. Shaw's expressed views were often contentious; he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform, and opposed vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable, and although not a republican, castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period. These stances had no lasting effect on his standing or productivity as a dramatist; the inter-war years saw a series of often ambitious plays, which achieved varying degrees of popular success. In 1938 he provided the screenplay for a filmed version of Pygmalion for which he received an Academy Award. His appetite for politics and controversy remained undiminished; by the late 1920s he had largely renounced Fabian Society gradualism and often wrote and spoke favourably of dictatorships of the right and left—he expressed admiration for both Mussolini and Stalin. In the final decade of his life he made fewer public statements, but continued to write prolifically until shortly before his death, aged ninety-four, having refused all state honours, including the Order of Merit in 1946. Since Shaw's death scholarly and critical opinion has varied about his works, but he has regularly been rated as second only to Shakespeare among British dramatists; analysts recognise his extensive influence on generations of English-language playwrights. The word "Shavian" has entered the language as encapsulating Shaw's ideas and his means of expressing them. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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