Black SplatThe Presidio (1988)

"Now you sure you wanna have a fight? Because I’m only gonna use my thumb....My right thumb. The left one’s much too powerful for you."

The Presidio - Cardwell prepares to teach a bully a lesson with his thumb

Description: Sean Connery as Lt. Colonel Alan Caldwell in the motion picture The Presidio (1988).

Lt. Colonel Alan Caldwell is assigned to investigate the murder of Patty Jean Lynch, (Jenette Goldstein), a Military Police officer who is killed on The Presidio Army Base in San Francisco while checking an open door at the officer's club.

Because of an overlap of jurisdiction, Caldwell has to share the case with civilian police detective Jay Austin (Mark Harmon) who had worked for Caldwell as an MP before leaving the service over a disagreement. Patty Lynch was Jay's partner at the time.

"Live or die, asshole, your choice!” - Jay Austin [draws down on a felon]

Aside from the problems of the current case, Austin had another issue with the Lt. Colonel, namely, he is dating Caldwell's daughter, Donna Caldwell (Meg Ryan). A relationship that Caldwell is totally against.

Austin: What we've got here is a multi-jurisdictional investigation involving the cooperation of the Army and the San Francisco Police Department. Now, I'm the police part, Sir.
Caldwell: I was prepared to cut you a little slack because of Patty Jean, so I'll let you do your Dirty Harry imitation when your times up, so listen real good to what I'm gonna tell you...This is my command here. You watch your mouth when you're here. You understand me?
Austin: Yes...Sir

Taking a break from the case, Caldwell and Austin order coffee at a small bar. The Colonel then asks Austin what his intentions are towards his daughter,As they converse, a burly loudmouth bully in a red flannel shirt starts to taunt Caldwell, who politely ignores the man.

The bully continues so Caldwell advises the man to “Let it alone, boy.” The bully then calls Caldwell a "Major" and puts a lit cigar out in his coffee. Having exhausted his patience, Caldwell asks, "Now, you sure you wanna have a fight? Because I’m only gonna use my thumb....My right thumb. The left one’s much too powerful for you."

Caldwell then hits various pressure points on the man’s body and beats him into submission. Finally, placing his thumb on the man’s jugular vein, Caldwell concludes:

The Presidio - Caldwell educates the bully on Army Ranking

“You see these little oak leaves. They’re silver. That means I’m a Lt. Colonel. If they were gold, then I’d be a Major. You understand? ...That’s good because the next time you see an officer of the Army, you’ll be able to recognize his rank and he won’t get ticked off and accidentally hurt you. You understand?”

The defeated man answers, “Yes, Sir” and the Lt. Colonel gives him one last thumb jab to the stomach that knocks him to the ground. As Caldwell leaves the diner, Detective Austin cautiously says, “About your daughter, sir, I want you to know my intentions are strictly honorable.”

The case of the murdered MP was solved when Caldwell and Austin link her death to a diamond smuggling being run by military officers on the base. Sadly, Caldwell learns that his close friend, retired Sergeant Major Ross Maclure (Jack Warden), who runs the Presidio's war museum and who had saved Caldwell's life in Vietnam, had been coordinating the delivery of bottles of spring water shipments transported from Philippines via Air Force planes to San Francisco.

"You open your mouth one more time, and I'll shove your head so far up your ass, you'll be talking out of your armpits." - Sgt. Major Ross Maclure

Apparently, one of the men (Spota) involved in the smuggling ring left a water bottle containing diamonds in the officer's club. When he returned to retrieve it from the storeroom, he shot Patty Lynch when she discovered him inside. McClure felt horrible that Lynch had died and tries to end the operation, but he is mortally wounded in a shootout at the water bottling facility. Consequently, Caldwell asks Austin to delay filing the police report for 48 hours so he could have his old friend buried with military honors.

Note: In the film The Lords of Discipline (1983,) Rick Rossovich as “Pig” shares what he learned at Carolina Military Institute: “Listen, you know what I learned this summer? How to kill usin’ just my thumbs.”

The Presidio (1998) - Movie Poster

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