Niven motions to a soldier at the back of the room and the lights go out as a slide projector comes on. The picture on the screen is that of a Jewish man in a prison suit. Niven says "Gentle, ur people, this is Hiram Herschberg. He recently escaped from a concentration camp and with the help of the French Resistance made his way to England. The tale he has told is chilling."
McQueen gives a big yawn.
Thomas [sounding like Gardner]: "Col. Niven, kindly unhand my breast."
Niven plows on: "It seems that among the Jewish belongings confiscated at the camp was a priceless artifact that for ages was safely kept by a Jewish family. When they packed it for what they thought was a relocation, little did they know it would fall into Nazi hands. Next slide please."
A picture of two ropes connected by a leather pouch appears. Niven: "Does anyone know what this is?"
Caine raises his knife. "It appears to be a sling, sir".
Niven nods. "That is correct, but this is not any ordinary sling. [pauses for effect] This is the Sling of David. Next slide, Giles."
A photo of Michelangelo's David appears. Followed immediately by one-liners.
Lancaster: “That cat could use more sun. He should spend more time at the beach.” 1
Knotts: “I don’t feel so bad about my equipment now. Thanks, guv’na.”
Ray: “I got no problems going into battle bare-chested, but I draw the line at full frontal.”
Gardner: "I refuse to do anything with a statue.”
Niven: "Calm down, Miss Gardner. Your prey will be very alive, at least when you get them. My point is this: Hitler now has possession of the most awesome weapon in the world." [laughter from the rest]
Lancaster: "Is this a joke?"
Niven: "I assure you it is not. I am sure you all know your Bible. [all the others look down at their shoes] David slew the giant Goliath with this very sling. No ordinary sling wielded by a boy could have done that. This sling can kill anyone at any distance as long as you have a clear line of sight." 2
Thomas [mimicking Lancaster]: "What the jolly roger does that have to do with us?"
Niven: "OSS has evidence that Hitler plans to assassinate the King of England during a royal procession. 3 The sling could be easily hidden in an assassin's clothing and England has plenty of rocks lying around. [slide of a rock] Once the sling is smuggled into England there will be no way to prevent it being used. We must get that sling!" He slams his riding crop on the table, awakening McQueen who wipes some drool off his sleeve.
There is stunned silence...
Niven: “The mission is simple. We will sneak into Germany, infiltrate the most heavily guarded mountain- top castle in the world [picture], steal the sling, and return. Hopefully with no injuries. Piece of cake.” [picture of a piece of cake]
McQueen [under his breath]: “Piece of turd cake.”
Niven: “Training begins at 0600 on Monday. If you don’t show up, I’ll know you are not interested… and I’ll have the MPs track you down and shoot you like a dog. There will be no unvolunteering.”
Niven’s executive officer Maj. Peck enters the room with a clip board.
Peck: “I have the list of potential additions to the squad here, sir. We have an appointment at the military prison for 1100.”
Niven [glancing at his pocket watch]: “Dismissed.”
1- From Here to Eternity
2- Raiders of the Lost Ark
3 - The Eagle Has Landed