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An Irish rogue wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband's aristocratic position in 18th-century England.
Title card: [End title card] EPILOGUE Title card: It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarreled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor they are all equal now
Lord Bullingdon: [after Barry has whipped him repeatedly with a cane] Will that be all Mr. Redmond Barry? Redmond Barry: Yes, that will be all. Lord Bullingdon: Well then, look you now... from this moment, I will submit to no further chastisement from you. I will kill you, if you lay hands on me ever again! Is that entirely clear to you, sir? Redmond Barry: [under his breath] Get out of here!
Narrator: [voice-over] Fate had determined that he should leave none of his race behind him, and that he should finish his life poor, lonely and childless.
Sir Charles Lyndon: [laughs] He wants to step into my shoes. He wants to step into my shoes. Is it not a pleasure Gentlemen for me, as I am drawing near the goal - to find my home such a happy one - my wife so fond of me, that she is even now thinking of appointing a successor? Isn't it a comfort to see her like a prudent housewife - getting everything ready for her husband's departure? Redmond Barry: I hope you're not thinking of leaving us soon, Sir Charles? Sir Charles Lyndon: Not so soon my dear as you may fancy, perhaps. Why man I've been given over many times these four years. And there was always a candidate or two - waiting to apply for the situation. I'm sorry for you, Mr. Barry. It grieves me to keep you or any gentleman waiting. Had you not better arrange with my doctor or have the cook flavor my omelette with arsenic, eh? What are the odds, gentlemen, that I live to see Mr. Barry hang yet? Redmond Barry: Sir, let those laugh that win.
[Redmond Barry sees a lone figure down the road, his back facing him] Redmond Barry: Excuse me, sir! [Man turns around aiming dual pistols at Barry] Captain Feeny: Good morning again, young sir! [a young man on horseback approaches and holds Barry up from behind with a pistol] Captain Feeny: Don't even think about it. Get down off that horse. Raise your hands high above your head, please. Come forward... stop. How do you do? I'm Captain Feeny. Redmond Barry: Captain Feeny? Captain Feeny: Captain Feeny at your service. Redmond Barry: THE Captain Feeny? Captain Feeny: None other. May I introduce you to my son, Seamus. Seamus: How do you do? Redmond Barry: How do you do? Captain Feeny: To whom have I the honor of speaking? Redmond Barry: My name's Redmond Barry. Captain Feeny: How do you do Mr. Barry? And now I'm afraid we must get on to the more regrettable stage of our brief acquaintance. Turn around, and keep your hands high above your head, please. [Seamus frisks Barry and finds a pouch full of money] Seamus: There must be 20 guineas in gold here, father! Captain Feeny: Well, well, well. You seem to be a very well set up young gentleman, sir! Redmond Barry: Captain Feeny, that's all the money my mother had in the world. Mightn't I be allowed to keep it? I'm just one step ahead of the law myself. I killed and English officer in a duel, and I'm on my way to Dublin until things cool down. Captain Feeny: Mr. Barry, in my profession we hear many such stories. Yours is one of the most intriguing and touching I've heard in many weeks. Nevertheless, I'm afraid I cannot grant your request. But I'll tell you what I will do. I'll allow you to keep those fine pair of boots which in normal circumstances I would have for myself. The next town is only 5 miles away, and I suggest you now start walking. Redmond Barry: Mightn't I be allowed to keep my horse? Captain Feeny: I should like to oblige you, but with people like us, we must be able to travel faster than our clients. Good day, young sir. [Barry soon is a few paces ahead of the robbers] Captain Feeny: You can put down your hands now, Mr. Barry!
Narrator: [voice-over] A lady who sets her heart upon a lad in uniform must prepare to change lovers pretty quickly, or her life will be but a sad one. This heart of Lischen's was like many a neighboring town and had been stormed and occupied several times before Barry came to invest it.
Captain Grogan: [dying] I've only a hundred guineas left to give you for I lost the rest at cards last night. Kiss me, me boy, for we'll never meet again.
Lord Bullingdon: [refering to Byran wearing his oversized shoes] Don't you think he fits my shoes very well Your Ladyship? [kneels to his stepbrother] Lord Bullingdon: Dear child, what a pity it is I am not dead, for your sake. The Lyndons would then have a worthy representative and enjoy all the benefits of the illustrious blood of the Barrys of Barryville. Would they not... Mr. Redmond Barry? Lady Lyndon: From the way I love this child, my lord, you ought to know how I would have loved his elder brother had he proved worthy of any mother's affection. Lord Bullingdon: Madam! I have born as long as mortal could endure the ill-treatment of the insolent Irish upstart whom you've taken into your bed. It is not only the lowness of his birth and the general brutality of his manners which disgusts me, but the shameful nature of his conduct towards Your Ladyship. His brutal and ungentleman-like behavior, his open infidelity, his shameless robberies and swindling of my property, and yours. And as I cannot personally chastise this lowbred ruffian, and as I cannot bear to witness any more his treatment of you and loathe his horrible society as if it were the plague! I have decided to leave my home and never return, at least during his detested life or during my own.
[Barry has just been arrested by the Prussians for impersonating a British officer] Redmond Barry: I'm under arrest? Captain Potzdorf, sir! I'm a British officer. Captain Potzdorf: You are a liar! You are an impostor. You are a deserter. I suspected you this morning, and your lies and folly have confirmed this to me. You pretend to carry dispatches to a British general who has been dead these ten months. You say your uncle is the British Ambassador in Berlin, with the ridiculous name of O'Grady. Now, will you join and take the bounty that is on your head sir, or will you be given up? Redmond Barry: [beat] I volunteer.
Lord Bullingdon: [to a drunk Barry] I have now come to claim that satisfaction.
Narrator: [voice-over] Barry's first taste of battle was only a skirmish against a small rearguard of Frenchmen who occupied an orchard beside a road down which, a few hours later, the English main force would wish to pass. Though this encounter is not recorded in any history books, it was memorable enough for those who took part.
Narrator: [voice-over] No lad who has liberty for the first time, and twenty guineas in his pocket, is very sad, and Barry rode towards Dublin thinking not so much of the kind mother left alone, and of the home behind him, but of tomorrow, and all the wonders it would bring.
[first lines] [two figures visible on the horizon prepare to duel. Three witnesses stand between them] Second: Gentlemen, cock your pistols! Gentlemen... Narrator: Barry's father... Second: ...aim your pistols! Narrator: ...had been bred, like many other young sons of a genteel family, to the profession of the law. Second: One! Narrator: And there is no doubt he would've... Second: Two! Narrator: ...made an eminent figure in his profession... Second: Three! [the two duelists fire at each other, one of them collapses] Narrator: ...had he not been killed in a duel, which arose over the purchase of some horses.
Sir Charles Lyndon: Have you done with my Lady? Redmond Barry: I beg your pardon? Sir Charles Lyndon: Come, come, sir. I'm a man who would rather be known as a cuckold than a fool.
Narrator: [voice-over] It is well to dream of glorious war in a snug armchair at home, but it is a very different thing to see it first hand. And after the death of his friend, Barry's thoughts turned from those of military glory to those of finding a way to escape the service to which he was now tied for another six years. Gentlemen may talk of the age of chivalry, but remember the ploughmen, poachers and pickpockets whom they lead. It is with these sad instruments that your great warriors and kings have been doing their murderous work in the world.
Redmond Barry: Sir, I... I have a confession to make to you. I'm an Irishman. And my name is Redmond Barry. I was abducted into the Prussian army two years ago, and now have been put into your service by my Captain Potzdorf, and his uncle, the Minister of Police... to serve as a watch upon your... actions... and to give information to the same quarter. Narrator: [voice-over] The Chevalier was as much affected as Barry at thus finding one of his countrymen. For he too was an exile from home, and a friendly voice, a look, brought the old country back to his memory again.
Barry's Mother: [to Barry] I shall not rest until I see you as Lord Lyndon. You have important friends. They can tell you how these things are done. For money, well-timed and properly applied can accomplish anything.
Narrator: [voice-over] Five years in the English and Prussian army, and some considerable experience of traveling the world, had by now dispelled any of those romantic notions regarding love with which Barry commenced life. And he began to have it in mind, as so many gentlemen had done before him, to marry a woman of great fortune and condition. And, as such things so often happen, these thoughts closely coincided with his setting first sight upon a lady who will henceforth play a considerable part in the drama of his life: the Countess of Lyndon, Viscountess Bullingdon of England, Baroness of Castle Lyndon of the Kingdom of Ireland, a woman of vast wealth and great beauty. She was the wife of The Right Honorable Sir Charles Reginald Lyndon, Knight of the Bath, and Minister to George III at several of the smaller Courts of Europe, a cripple, wheeled about in a chair, worn out by gout and a myriad of other diseases. Her Ladyship's Chaplain, Mr. Runt, acted in the capacity of tutor to her son, the little Viscount Bullingdon, a melancholy little boy, much attached to his mother.
Narrator: [voice-over] The Prussian service was considerably worse than the English. The life that the private soldier led was a frightful one. Punishment was incessant, and every officer had the right to inflict it. The gauntlet was the most common penalty for minor offenses. The more serious ones were punishable by mutilation or death. At the close of the Seven Years' War, the army, so renowned for it's disciplined valor, was officered by native Prussians. But it was composed, for the most part, of men from the lowest levels of humanity. Hired, or stolen from almost every nation in Europe. Thus Barry fell into the very worst of courses and company. And was soon very far advanced in the science of every kind of misconduct.
Redmond Barry: I'm not sorry. And I'll not apologize. And I'd as soon go to Dublin as to hell.
[last lines] Narrator: [voice-over] Utterly baffled and beaten, what was a lonely and broken-hearted man to do? Barry took the annuity and returned to Ireland with his mother to complete his recovery. Sometime later, he travelled to the Continent. His life there, we have not the means of following accurately. But he appears to have resumed his former profession of a gambler without his former success. He never saw Lady Lyndon again.
Narrator: [voice Over Scene of Sir Charles Lyndon suffering an attack after quarreling with Barry] From a report in The Saint James' Chronicle: "Died at Spa in the Kingdom of Belgium: The Right Honorable Sir Charles Reginald Lyndon; Knight of the Bath; Member of Parliament; and for many years, His Majesty's Representative at various European Courts. He has left behind him a name which is endeared to all his friends..."
Narrator: [voice-over] It would require a great philosopher and historian to explain the causes of the famous Seven Years' War in which Europe was engaged and in which Barry's regiment was now on its way to take part. Let it suffice to say, that England and Prussia were allies and at war against the French, the Swedes, the Russians and the Austrians.
Lady Lyndon: Lord Bullingdon, have you lost your tongue?
Redmond Barry: It is an honor to meet you, Your Majesty. I knew Sir Charles Lyndon before his passing. King George III: We were very fond of Sir Charles Lyndon.
[Barry is masquerading as a British lieutenant in Prussia after having defected from the British army] German Girl: It must be very danger for you, to be in the war. Redmond Barry: I'm an officer and I must do my duty.
Narrator: Barry - had now arrived at the pitch of prosperity and by his own energy had raised himself to a higher sphere of society. Having procured his majesty's gracious permission, to add the name of his lovely Lady, to his own. Henceforth, Redmond Barry assumed the style and title of: Barry Lyndon.
Redmond Barry: If ever I should meet him again you will find out who is the best man of the two. I'll fight him sword or pistol, captain as he is.
Narrator: Lady Lyndon was soon destined to occupy a place in Barry's life, not very much more important than the elegant carpets and pictures which would form the pleasant background of his existence.