Based on John Patrick's play, a wounded Scot does not know he is going to die soon, but others in his ward are told and become his friends.
In Burma soldiers learn in 1945 that the war is over. Cpl. Lachie MacLachlan (Richard Todd) is angry because he is not going home. Lt. Col. Dunn (Anthony Nicholls) transfers him to the ward of Sister Parker (Patricia Neal). Yank (Ronald Reagan) says he hates Scots because of his grandfather. Col. Dunn asks the men in that ward to help MacLachlan because he is going to die in a few weeks from kidney failure.
Lachie refuses to accept help or gifts. He tells Sister Parker that he is buying land instead of a kilt. Lachie tells Yank that he wants privacy, not friendship. Behind a screen he plays bagpipes. Sister Parker delivers mail, but Lachie gets none. Kini (Ralph Michael) learns his wife had a son. Sister Parker sends Lachie to Col. Dunn and tells Yank, Kini, Tommy (Howard Marion-Crawford), and Digger (John Sherman) that Lachie was a foundling. They agree to give him a party and gifts that she bought. Each gives him a birthday present, but he says nothing and then thanks them all. Lachie says, "Sorrow is born in the hasty heart" and that he cannot pay them back.
At night Sister Parker finds Lachie smoking outside. He says he has no friends. He wants to do something but is starting to feel weaker. She advises him to share himself. He calls her an angel, and she kisses him. Lachie becomes talkative and says how much the war costs. He invites each man to visit him in Scotland. He collapses. Yank gives him a rubdown and says he will write to him.
Yank delays going home, and Lachie appears in his kilt. Sister Parker takes pictures. In her office Lachie formally proposes to Sister Parker, who thinks and agrees. Col. Dunn tells Lachie that he can fly home. Lachie asks why. Col. Dunn explains that he will die in a few days. Lachie learns the others knew and says he wants to go back to Scotland. He says he wants no more pity. He calls the others swine and tells them to stay away. Sister Parker tells him they are his friends; but he feels hurt because of why. The African Blossom (Orlando Martins) gives Lachie a necklace, but he throws it away. Angry Yank tells Lachie that he is afraid to live and explains that Blossom does not know that he is going to die. Sister Parker asks Lachie if he is ready, and he refuses help. Yank asks Sister Parker to take a photo of the others. Lachie cries and asks to stay. While he is washing, Sister Parker says he swallowed his pride. Lachie comes out in his kilt, and she takes a picture of them all.
This drama emphasizes the value of human friendship
and suggests that sometimes the humane response to our hurts can
stimulate psychological healing as well as physical recovery.
The world wars were catastrophic breakdowns of human relationships
and show the need for great healing.