The Four Feathers (1939)

 


 

See…The Dreaded Dervishes! – Kipling's Famous FUZZY WUZZIES! See »

A British army officer who resigns his commission on the eve of his unit\’s embarkation to a mission against Egyptian rebels seeks to redeem his cowardice by secretly aiding his former comrades disguised as an Arab. When his unit is overwhelmed and captured by the rebels, the hero finds an opportunity to return the \’feathers\’ of cowardice sent to him by his former comrades by freeing them.

Written by
Anonymous

When Harry Faversham\’s father dies, he decides to resign his commission. He had only joined the army to please him and satisfy family tradition and now wants to do something else with his life. At the same time however, his Regiment is ordered to Egypt and the Sudan, and he soon receives three white feathers from his fellow officers. The white feathers accuse him of being a coward and he takes his fiancée\’s reaction to the situation be a fourth feather. Now alone in the world, he sets off for Egypt and the Sudan to prove his bravery and return the white feathers to those who sent them. Posing as a mute native he manages to rescue all three of his accusers and returns to England to reclaim his fiancée\’s love and admiration.

Written by
garykmcd

Genre: Adventure,Drama,Romance,War

The Four Feathers (1939)
   
Release Date: 3 August 1939 (USA)
Country: UK
Director: Zoltan Korda
Cast:
  • John Clements
  • Ralph Richardson
  • C. Aubrey Smith
  • June Duprez
  • Allan Jeayes
  • Jack Allen
  • Donald Gray
  • Frederick Culley
  • Clive Baxter
  • Robert Rendel
  • Archibald Batty
  • Derek Elphinstone
  • Hal Walters
  • Norman Pierce
  • Henry Oscar


20 Responses to The Four Feathers (1939)

  1. JaneSchmo
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    Everyone watching this at my house roared whenever this appeared on screen or was said.

    Isn’t Fuzzie Wuzzie a bear?

    stopjohnofgod.blogspot.com

    stopsylvia.com

  2. hobnob53
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    It’s rumored that Criterion may be working on a release of The Four Feathers, possibly for 2009. (From reports on thedigitalbits.com and criterionforum.org.)

  3. chrisart7
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    Has anyone else noticed that the character Karaga Pasha, portrayed by Amid Taftazani, has the same voice as Harry Faversham, portrayed by John Clements? Taftazani was also in the Korda film "The Drum" in 1938 in which he had a distinctly high (contra-tenor) speaking voice. Yet here he has a plummy baritone set of pipes which I initially mistook for John Clements until, after seeing this film several times, I realised was DUBBED by Clements. Why? I suppose they felt his high voice sounded too effeminate for the role. Watch again (the scene where Harry and his two comrades are imprisoned), and you’ll see.

    This is still my favourite film ever made, though I do believe "Lawrence of Arabia" is technically superior (and inspired in some measure by its predecessor).

  4. rogerpentley
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    toward the end of the movie, he’s in a drawing room and quotes something from a poem or play that ends something like, ‘i cried to dream again.’ ??

  5. malcolm_mccallum
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    I’m really enjoying the film (I have another bit to go later). It is so much better than the recent remake.

    I am confused on the cowardice issue though and I confess I may have missed something.

    As I see it, he is afraid of being a coward and believes himself to be one and so withdraws from the military and the expedition. Simple enough but done through exposition. Then he ups and does a remarkably courageous thing and goes on his own to the army. Much more courage ensues. All this courage comes from feeling the need to redeem himself but it follows that he was courageous from the start. What made him think he was cowardly and what made him suddenly decide that he wasn’t?

    Since the story of the crippled soldier who killed himself was apparently pivotal, I’m wondering if it has something to do with having the courage to live being perhaps harder than the courage to die (which everyone was applauding). Likewise, he was showing his courage by choosing to NOT go to war and not bow to societal pressure.

    Standing up to a bullet is easy. Standing up for your convictionss is hard.

    Somehow though I feel that is too complex a solution and that if this is the message the film (and book) is trying to explore then it would be more plain.

  6. pullgees
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    Ralph Richardson saw the "fuzzy wuzzies" and instead of legging it back to camp to warn his men, decided to climb a high rock to get a better look, but why? Then he suffered from sun-stroke. But it developed far too quickly looking false. If he was on that rock for a long period, we were given no sense of that. Pity really because that is the only flaw in a very fine flim, just too contrived.

  7. slittle2
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    Why did Harry Faversham ask Ethne for her feather? Was she planning on giving him one? I don’t think she was, but Faversham made the comment "there should be four feathers"…is this a tradition? Does there have to be four feathers?

    If I could speak in my defense, women are NOT people…

  8. Clive-Candy
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    I love these type of movies from 30’s 40’s and 50’s what other ones are there like this one

    the crocodile just wouldnt flush down the toilet

  9. sherylshannon
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    when he was saving his friend from suicide, he didn’t speak the entire time. why?

  10. chrisart7
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    The trailer which came in the MGM DVD release of "The Four Feathers" (my all-time favourite film, by the way) has a few interesting bits which are not in the actual movie: Harry (Sir John Clements) reciting some of Shelley’s poetry to Ethne (June Duprez) in the moonlight; a jar containing the white feathers on a shelf; and an alternate take on a C. Aubrey Smith monolog in which his moustache is quite dark (it is light in the final film, except for one brief snippet—oops!) wherein he recounts saying to a cowardly British soldier, "Would you rather face ME (than the Russians at Balaklava)?"

    What a marvellous print the most recent (official) DVD release is! Beautiful in clarity and colour! I’m sure Sir David Lean was quite influenced and impressed by "The Four Feathers", as was Lord Richard Attenborough (he even cast Sir John Clements in a small role in the 1982 "Gandhi" film).

  11. smiley-39
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    It was reported in The Times, dated 21th July 2004, on the one-hundred-and-forty-first anniversary of the birth of Sir C. Aubrey Smith, that this distinguished gentleman with the John Bull no-nonsense attitude, had played nine colonels, five generals, and six dukes. No wonder war was war in his day!

    Cheers to all on this website. smiley-39.

  12. KizzyDog
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    Having just watched this film I cannot believe the absolute sheer quality. The cinematography with the vibrant colours, the camara work and superb range, views and detail and the wonderful landscapes – and this film was made in 1939! It must surely be equalled alongside Lawrence of Arabia (1962) for quality.

    I think that this film is a golden masterpiece. This must be the very first time that the ‘F’ word is used in a film: "Peter! For fuc_k’s sake answer me".

    A very good story of epic proportions 9/10

    (¸.•´ (¸.•´ (¸.•´ (¸.•´ (¸.•´ (¸.•´ (¸.•´(¸.•´ (¸.•´ (¸.•´ (¸.•´ (¸.•´ (¸.•´ (¸.•´

  13. markb_1979
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    Hi all, i hope someone can help me, I remember seeing a version of this film back when I was quite young and have been unable to track it down. The only realy piece of the film i remeber is it had a sceane at the start with a young harry walking up the stairs past the portraits of the old generals etc and a model battle field scene, i am not sure if this is enough for you guys to go on. but if someone knows which version this is i would be greatly appreciated. (it was in color)

    Regards,

    Mark

  14. argreen
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    I had no idea that The Four Feathers had been made so many times, so when the DVD of the 2002 version arrived instead of the 1939 classic I was somewhat disappointed. How do they compare? Is the recent remake worth keeping?

    Regards, Anthony

  15. bayster912
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    Just watched the 1939 ‘Four Feathers’ last night and was a bit puzzled as to how Harry Feversham gets branded on his forehead so he can masquerade as a native but then at the end when he’s talking to C Aubrey Smith this brand has completely disappeared. Cosmetic surgery in the Victorian age perhaps?

  16. sigggyfreud
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    I don’t usually watch TCM anymore but last night I noticed that the great "Four Feathers" was playing and decided to view it again. I was astonished when at the end Robert Osborne asked cohost and critic Molly Haskell what her most favorite part of the movie was and she replied it was the end where Durrance realized he was going to remain blind and decided to go off to Germany to avoid marrying Ethne. In actuality, he had just realized that Harry was still alive and knew the right thing to do would be to get out of the picture so Ethne and Harry could get together again. I can’t believe a "movie critic" would mis-interpret or mis-remember this wonderful scene.

  17. adrianderry
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    I believe that some of the UK locations used in the film were shot at a country house in Sussex. Is anybody able to confirm or otherwise.

  18. ldmartin9999
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    Picked this up today and the running time is given as 115 mins.

    My old laserdisc of this film also had a running time of 115 mins.

    ImDb give the running time as 130 mins. as does the Motion Picture Guide.

    Is the 130 min running time a roadshow time or is this the British running time and the was the film cut for American distribution?

    For the life of me I cannot determine if anything is missing.

    I am assuming there was more talk between the cast during the scenes at home in England.

    Any help would be appreciated and thanks

  19. crisso
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    Great news! An official R1 DVD release is scheduled for 19 April.

  20. david-879
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    In both this version, and the remake "Storm on the Nile" the surname of the General and his daughter is Burroughs. Yet in earlier versions, and in the 1977 TV movie the name is Eustace. This was also their surname in the original book. Incidentally, in "Storm" the daughter’s name is Mary, the same as the actress playing her. Perhaps she had a memory problem!

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