Four Feathers

Four Feathers

Director: Zoltan Korda

Cast: John Clements, Ralph Richardson, C. Aubrey Smith

     
 

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This was the first sound production of A.E.W. Mason's classic adventure novel, which was brought to the screen three times in the silent era. Harry Faversham (John Clements) is the son of a military man who expects his son to follow in his footsteps on the fields of battle. Gen. Burroughs (C. Aubrey Smith), the father of Faversham's sweetheart, Ethne (June Duprez),… See more details below

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Overview

This was the first sound production of A.E.W. Mason's classic adventure novel, which was brought to the screen three times in the silent era. Harry Faversham (John Clements) is the son of a military man who expects his son to follow in his footsteps on the fields of battle. Gen. Burroughs (C. Aubrey Smith), the father of Faversham's sweetheart, Ethne (June Duprez), was also a hero in the Crimean War, and he often regales Harry with tales of his exploits under fire. However, Harry is not so sure he believes in the family's tradition of military service and resigns his commission in 1898, shortly before his company is scheduled to head into the Sudan. Three of Faversham's comrades in arms, Capt. John Durrance (Ralph Richardson), Lt. Peter Burroughs (Donald Gray), and Lt. Arthur Willoughby (Jack Allen), each present Harry with a white feather, symbolizing their belief that he is a coward; Ethne shares their belief, and gives him one as well. Disgusted with himself, Faversham disguises himself as a Sangali tribesman and travels to the Sudan so that he might be able to move behind enemy lines and serve the British forces as a scout and reconnaissance agent. When his former regiment is attacked, Faversham is able to lead Burroughs and Willoughby to safety, with the wounded Durrance not realizing that the Arab who saved his life was in fact the man that he accused of cowardice. The Four Feathers was a great critical and commercial success and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Zoltan Korda's 1938 The Four Feathers was the last and best traditional patriotic film of the pre-World War II era. Based on a 1902 novel by A.E.W. Mason, it benefited from glorious Technicolor photography and unique location shooting: Korda and his second unit crew, under Osmond H. Borradaile, not only shot the action scenes where the battles really took place but also included among the extras people who'd actually seen the fighting (and participated in it) 45 years earlier. Coupled with Korda's skills as an action director (he'd been a cavalry officer, and he knew how to move men and their mounts quickly and to good effect), the result was a movie that captured the imagination of the public on the eve of World War II with its vision of self-sacrifice and gallantry. The movie is a reminder of a time when it was possible to believe that armies could liberate peoples from tyranny, and that the use of force could be a good thing. The film is not unquestioning in this belief, as attested by its brutally humorous treatment of the aging general played by Sir C. Aubrey Smith ("Those were the days when war was war, and men were men"), but ultimately it comes down on the side of action as opposed to inaction. Korda's and Borradaile's African footage was so good that it has been reused in dozens of other movies (including remakes of this one). Follow That Camel, by the British Carry On company, was a direct and savage satire of The Four Feathers; and, as was revealed in an interview shortly after its release, it was The Four Feathers and not Beau Geste that Marty Feldman was satirizing in The Last Remake of Beau Geste, but it was too late to change the title once he'd realized his mistake.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/11/2011
UPC:
0715515087612
Original Release:
1939
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:55:00
Sales rank:
770

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Clements Harry Faversham
Ralph Richardson Capt. John Durrance
C. Aubrey Smith Gen. Burroughs
June Duprez Ethne Burroughs
Allan Jeayes Gen. Faversham
Jack Allen Lt. Arthur Willoughby
Donald Gray Lt. Peter Burroughs
Frederick Culley Dr. Sutton
Clive Baxter Harry Faversham (younger)
Derek Elphinstone Lieutenant Parker
Henry Oscar Dr. Harraz
John Laurie Khalifa
Amid Taftazani Karaga Pasha
Archibald Batty Adjutant
Robert Rendel Colonel
Hal Walters Joe
Norman Pierce Sgt. Brown
Hay Petrie Mahdi Interpreter
Alexander Knox Actor

Technical Credits
Zoltan Korda Director
Donald Anderson Consultant/advisor
Lajos Biro Screenwriter
Osmond H. Borradaile Cinematographer
Godfrey Brennan Costumes/Costume Designer
Jack Cardiff Cinematographer
Henry Cornelius Editor
Oliver H.P. Garrett Screenwriter
William W. Hornbeck Editor
Rene Hubert Costumes/Costume Designer
Alexander Korda Producer
Vincent Korda Production Designer
Muir Mathieson Musical Direction/Supervision
Georges Périnal Cinematographer
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer
R.C. Sherriff Screenwriter
Stirling Consultant/advisor
A.W. Watkins Sound/Sound Designer
Arthur Wimperis Screenwriter

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Scene Index

Audio Commentary by Film Historian Charles Drazin; ; New Video Interview with David Korda, son of Director Zoltán Korda; ; A Day at Denham, a Short Film from 1939 featuring footage of Zoltán Korda on the set of The Four Feathers; ; Theatrical Trailer; ; Plus: An Essay by Film Critic Michael Sragow

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