See...The Dreaded Dervishes! - Kipling's Famous FUZZY WUZZIES!
A disgraced officer risks his life to help his childhood friends in battle.
A disgraced officer risks his life to help his childhood friends in battle.
John Laurie John Clements Ralph Richardson June Duprez Allan Jeayes Jack Allen Donald Gray C. Aubrey Smith Frederick Culley Clive Baxter Robert Rendel Archibald Batty Derek Elphinstone Hal Walters Norman Pierce Henry Oscar Amid Taftazani Peter Cozens Christopher Cozier Joe Cozier Joseph Cozier Alexander Knox Hay Petrie Leslie Phillips Josephine Wilson Jack Lambert
September the 3rd, 1939: the British Commonwealth declares war against Nazi aggressors storming Poland from the start of the month. With the Phony War phase of profuse war-time procrastination under way, what derring-do did the gallant lads and lasses of Great Britain do?!
They went to the theaters and watched The Four Feathers—in droves, of course. It had already been released a month before, but now it had become London Film's biggest success since The Private Life of Henry VIII. If that isn't perfect timing for a propaganda epic like this film, then I don't know what perfect timing is.
But it's no simple propaganda film.
The Four Feathers ia movie at war with itself over the way it presents…
A tale of cowardness and bravery. The scale in which this film is told is impressive and it culminates in a fine battle with many extras and explosives involved. At the same, and slightly contradictory to what I have just said, it is often a rather staid affair, probably the British stiff upper lip attitudes on display in the film. So whilst impressed with it to a certain degree I have to say that the only character I was really involved with was that of Durrance. With his character becoming blind due to sunstroke. I felt Ralph Richardson gave the best performance in the film and it is no surprise that he is the one name that stands out on…
The first sound version of The Four Feathers (1939). The last silent filming of A.E.W. Mason's novel done in 1929 was Hollywood's last silent blockbuster before they went all sound. This movie made 10 years later was a grand production done by the Korda Brothers in the UK with extended exotic shooting in Sudan, looks and feels superior. A wonderful film.
Setting the tone right away C. Aubrey Smith is used perfectly as boasting military retiree telling stories of the old wars, and clearly establishing John Clements as a non-believer of the military humanitarian philosophy. Clements does a natural performance in the lead role and let the other characters bring more color to the personalities, where Ralph Richardson comes in…
Kind of ridiculous at times, the film starts out with a discussion amongst old men how war was truly war in their day. They exalt a bunch of dead soldiers simply for being killed in battle. The scene seems silly, almost a parody, but is played sincere, since this is a movie about courage. But honestly, given the horrors these men are describing (at a child's birthday dinner, no less!), its no wonder wonder our hero, Faversham, resigns from the army once he has the freedom to do so.
Of course resigning from the army means, at least in British society circa. 1890s he's a big coward. So Faversham, goes about winning back the respect of his mates and fiancee…
The Four Feathers is a story that has been transferred to screen many times, but before watching this Oscar nominated 1939 version, I had only seen the mediocre at best 2002 version starring Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson. Based on the novel by AEW Mason, the 1939 adaptation, directed by Zoltan Korda (The Thief of Bagdad), also has an all star cast including the likes of John Clements (Oh What a Loely War), Ralph Richardson (Time Bandits) and C. Aubrey Smith (Rebecca, Kidnapped).
Clements plays Harry Faversham, a man who was born into one of Britain's most distinguished military backgrounds and to make his father proud he joins the army with three friends of his: John Durrance (Richardson); General Burroughs…
I've never quite understood why Faversham needs to redeem himself in disguise. Makes for a more cracking story, obviously, but it's pretty nonsensical—he scars himself for life and undergoes all manner of hardship to achieve the same respect he'd likely have gotten simply by re-enlisting. (And why carry on the charade when he and Durrance are alone for days on end, with the latter stumbling around blind? That just seems daft. Certainly he 'fesses up quickly to the other two when circumstances demand it. Most of his decisions seem to be made with a reader/viewer in mind.) What would be challenging as well as rousing is the implication that he's able to behave more recklessly, and hence more heroically,…
Stuffy...but film history.
Watch it for film history purposes. The Technicolor is amazing and rarely looked as good even in the decades that followed. The story is slightly engaging, somehow. The greatest strength is the renowned yet not well known enough Georges Perinal's (Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Fallen Idol, The Blood of a Poet, and many of Rene Clair's gems from the '30s) work as DP gives the film its lush texture. Let's say the film has its moments. But when examined closely it is a stuffy British war saga, dashed in romance and romanticism. The latter playing like pre-WWII propaganda. It is certainly coherent and competently directed in every since, being under the keen, regimented eye of…
The end was offensive. From decrying the hypocrisy of bravery to earning the respect of those who reify it...and on their terms. Indirectly vanquishing your blind friend who it seems was just a pawn to restoring your self respect...and your flippant wife not concerned for his wellbeing or your idiotic gesture. Catastrophic. The dialogue was terrible even for the 30s.
The technicolor splendor of the stunningly multi-hued cinematography, rather than glorifying feats of militaristic might, bring a visceral force to the brutality of Britain's imperialist hubris, foregrounding the carnality and bitter futility of the battles that exact a painful human toll in the name of British honor. This fiercely cynical vision of Britain's military tradition sets Korda's film notably apart from other films of the era that dealt with Britain's colonialist legacy--the references to Kipling's "fuzzie-wuzzies" immediately drawing to mind the uncomplicated heroism and racism of Stevens's GUNGA DIN--as it complicates notions of bravery and heroism when in service of a morally bankrupt empire. Korda's contrasting of the bluff arrogance and jolly superiority of past generations, now comfortably ensconced in…
"Maybe that's why we always wear our hats." —Tevye
Pretty sure this isn't as aware of white privilege as it thinks it is. Still a step above most if not all of American cinema in terms of representation.
Blustery Old Men
Beautiful Technicolor Photography
More Humor Than I Was Expecting
The Korda Bros. strike gold again in this sumptuous Technicolor effort about the English conflict in Northern Africa. Stricken with cowardice, Harry Faversham opts out of the war in spite of being born into a proud and noble bloodline of soldiers and officers. After considerable thought and guilt, Faversham concocts a plan to deliver the famed four white feathers to those who gave them to him BUT he decides to deliver them personally on the battlefield. Disguised as a mute Arab beggar, Faversham completes his mission, wins the heart of the lovely June Duprez (who would feature in 1940's THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD--also produced by the famed Korda's) and claims his rightful place amongst the fighting Faversham's. An epic story of duty and self redemption. This is the best of the many adaptations of A.E.W. Mason's classic adventure novel. Scorsese recommends.
The premise and entire plot of this movie worked perfectly for me. I was almost brought to tears three different times while watching The Four Feathers because I was so connected to the main character. I totally identified with his struggle early on in the film, and admired his selfless turn as the film went on.
The battle scenes were ambitious to say the least. Considering this is back in the day when these large scale army scenes are all real people it's quite a sight to see. However some of the shot selection wasn't great because it kind of showed off the empty spots on the battlefield. And the actual fighting was a tad lackluster considering the length of…
One key plot point throws believability out the window.
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Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!