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The Four Feathers (1939) 
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Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:53 am
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Location: Woodstock, IL
The 1939 movie rendition of the classic A.E.W. Mason tale "The Four
Feathers" is the best known production of the classic novel. This movie
tells a tale that is simple, yet also engrossing and full of lessons for
future generations. This flick celebrates friendship and mutual
obligation as well as courage and determination. The Four Feathers
stands as a towering achievement of 1930's cinema.

Despite the fact that this movie was made in 1939, it was in fact the
third movie version of the novel, "The Four Feathers." This was due to
both the quality and the extraordinary quality of the novel and its
endearing story. There have subsequently been three later movie
versions of the novel including a 1977 made for TV movie and a 1955
production entitled "Storm Over the Nile" that heavily used footage from
the 1939 movie. There was also a recent 2002 version starring Heath

The movie begins with a British Army officer named Harry Faversham
(John Clements) resigns just before his unit is scheduled to leave for
Africa to put down an uprising of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's darker
skinned subjects. Naturally, this act leads to his being accused of cowardice.
The accusation comes in the form of four white feathers being sent to his home.
Three of the feathers come from British Army officers while the fourth comes from his fiancee.

Due to the fact that honor was something that was considered important
in Victorian England, Faversham decided that he had no choice but to
redeem himself. To this end, he endeavored to travel to the region of
conflict and disguise himself as a native with a view towards
infiltrating the enemy army. Disguised as a mute Arab, he is in a
position to aid thevery officers who had sent him the feathers in the first
place. This disguise is clever and quite believable.

The climax of The Four Feathers is the real life Battle of Omdurman.
Fought in 1898, it was the last stand of native Africans against
European colonialism. It was famously described by one of its participants,
Winston S. Churchill who described it as being a "victory snatched from the jaws of peril!"

The Four Feathers is a rare pre-WWII film that was shot entirely in
color and with a very big budget. One of the individuals most
responsible for its excellence was its photographer, Osmond Borradaile.
His work in The Four Feathers is outstanding and his photography of the
Sudan and the Nile is nothing short of breathtaking. The three Korda Brothers
made an excellent film from a great novel. Miklos Rozsa's original movie music
is also excellent. The acting in this movie is very good with standout performances
by June Duprez and Ralph Richardson. All in all, the 1939 movie version of
The Four Feathers comes fully recommended.

Mon Feb 06, 2017 1:41 am
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Burning Godzilla
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Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:29 pm
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Location: Minnesota
Thanks, I want to track this down.

The whole Sudan campaign is very interesting and worth reading more about.

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Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:54 pm
Burning Godzilla
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Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 1:54 am
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Location: California's #2 tourist destination
I think I saw part of the 1977 version. I'm sure it's all very classic, but I'd probably gag on the extreme victorian/colonial values. Like, the protagonist's great quest is to prove that he has more meters of stick up his butt than his detractors do.

"This is a Star Trek that pretends to have balls, but continues to prove that those balls are actually rubber prophylactics pretending to be balls." -- Bj

b l e s s e d    a r e    t h e    c h e e s e m a k e r s

Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:58 am
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