I’m trying to recall the first time I heard the above line, which has to be one of the most familiar men-in-war cliches of all time.

A voice is telling me it’s either from (a) Howard HawksRed River (i.e., a spooked Walter Brennan spooked before an Indian attack, or possibly Noah, Berry, Jr. saying the same thing later in the film), or (b) Cy Endfield‘s Zulu (Michael Caine or Stanley Baker spooked by a possible dawn attack by Zulu warriors), or (c) a World War II pre-battle scene (possibly Raoul Walsh‘s Objective, Burma! or Lewis Milestone‘s A Walk in the Sun).

I know for a fact that a version of this line is heard near the end of George Roy Hill‘s The Little Drummer Girl (’84). In a pre-dawn moment Kalil the Palestinian terrorist (Sami Frey) and Charlie the conflicted heroine (Diane Keaton) are sleeping in a remote country cottage that has been surrounded by Mossad special forces who intend to either capture or kill Kalil. Frey suddenly wakes when he realizes that the usual early morning sounds of nature are absent…he says something about not hearing birds or grazing cows. (No, I never got around to watching the 2018 BBC version, in which Keaton’s role was played by Florence Pugh.)

My other favorite line of this type is “I don’t like it when things go too good, and I don’t like it when things go too bad…I like ’em in between.” This line was definitely spoken by Hank Worden‘s “Sims Reeves” character in Red River.