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26th April 2005The Four Feathers:Classic Version.
By Tony Jones
I recently bought my dad a copy of 'The Four Feathers' starring Jane Seymour,Robert Powell and Co. According to my dad,the better version is the first 'classic version' which starred John Clements and Ralph Richardson,and he has asked me to obtain a copy for used to have four versions of this film on their site but they now only list the later two versions.Would anyone know where i could obtain the Clements/Richardson version from,or we would be grateful if anyone could provide us with a copy;the tape,postage etc.,we would pay.Despite the failings of the delicious Jane Seymour to impress my retired ex-para dad ,a copy would keep this old gentleman more than happy.Thanks.

26th April 2005tom
Your Dad is absolutely right.
Without doubt,this is the best version.
The've got a triple set for sale which includes this film.
Good luck
26th April 2005Julian whybra
Ah yes but by far the best version is the book by AEW Mason!
The stuff of ripping yarns!
26th April 2005Sheldon Hall
The 1939 version is on Carlton DVD in Region 2 and should be easy to find (I bought it fir £4.99 in an HMV sale). It has just been released by MGM/UA in Region 1, albeit minus the original trailer which is on Carlton's disc. Incidentally, both versions (and all extant film copies, apparently) are about 10 minutes shorter than the original release, which contained a scebe of a cricket match in the desert, subsequently cut to shorten the movie. Has anyone seen the silent (American) 1929 version with William Powell?
26th April 2005Tony Jones.
Dear all,
thanks for the advice guys,i'll get shopping immediately.The,after checking again,today,now lists
a AEW Mason DVD version of this story.Is it true that Khartoum,starring Lawrence Olivier and Charlton Heston could be classed as an indirect prequel to The Four Feathers,as the film tells the story of the murder of General Gordon;the preparation of the defence of Khartoum.Then,15 years later,due to public pressure,General Kitchener was sent out to avenge the murder of General Gordon;the tale of which the Four Feathers film is based on.Cheers.

26th April 2005John Young

A.E.W. Mason's book is actually set in the 1884-5 campaign against the Mahdi - Mohammed Ahmed Ibn Seyyid Abdullah.

The 1939 Zoltan Korda classic film portrays the death of Gordon on 26th January, 1885, and then skips a few years to have the action set against the Khalifa - Abdullah el-Taaishi, played in the film by John Laurie of 'Dad's Army' fame as previously mentioned on the forum.

The screenplay for the 1939 film was by R.C. Sheriff, of 'Journey's End' fame.

John Y.
27th April 2005Glenn Wade
Hi Tony,
I've not seen the Jane Seymour version, with Simon Ward of 'Zulu Dawn' fame. I did like the new version with Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson, although I had to laugh at the prospect of a square, under attack on all sides, being able to retreat.

The 1939 version has to be the best though. The whole film teems with a feeling for the period and I've yet to find one Historical mistake in it. Ralph Richardson's character had to be the best though, awful as it was for him to lose his sight due to sunstroke, he never let it slip and the line I love is 'Peter, where are you? Are they all around us, I can't see in this smoke?! Great script, amazing battle scenes and a fantastic cast.

Didn't they use some footage from the above version in one episode of Dad's Army? I think it was the one about Jonesy's reunion with Omdurman veterans and Capt Mainwaring/Arthur Lowe played a foul mouthed sergeant?

27th April 2005Sheldon Hall
As well as being used as a brief 'prologue' to the 1939 FOUR FEATHERS, the death of Gordon is also briefly recreated in SIXTY GLORIOUS YEARS (1938), the Technicolor prequel/sequel to VICTORIA THE GREAT (1937). Both these films and KHARTOUM model the scene on a famous painting of Gordon's death (which I recall seeing in a museum in Leeds, though I don't have the title or artist's name to hand).

The battle scenes from the '39 TFF may hold the record for the number of films in which extracts have been used as stock footage. See, for example, the 1955 scene-for-scene remake, STORM OVER THE NILE (co-directed by Zoltan Korda and apparently using exactly the same camera angles even for new footage!), MASTER OF THE WORLD (1961), EAST OF SUDAN (1964) and many others.
27th April 2005Tony Jones
Dear all,
John,thanks for the information about the 1939 film.I've just ordered the Clements/Richardson version from
Glenn,i should be able to send you the Jane Seymour version,which you can watch at your leisure.
Sheldon,thanks for the additional info,i'll see if i can obtain those films on either VHS or DVD,via the suggested site,above.

27th April 2005Julian Whybra
Some of the older extras in Alexander Korda's reconstruction of Omdurman in the four Feathers had taken part in the original battle.
The last British survivor of the 1884-5 campaign died in 1974 aged 109.
28th April 2005CLIVE DICKENS
You can get the original version of the Four Feathers from Amazon for as little as £7.75 +p/p
28th April 2005Tony Jones.
Dear Clive,
thanks for that tip.The 'Classic Version' that i ordered for my dad comes up on the dvdworld website as a boxed set which also includes the films,The African Queen and The Thirty Nine steps,which retails at £15.99,price includes p+p.Is the Amazon price for a unused disc or new,as i think i will order my single copy from there.Thanks.
28th April 2005Rich
You know Britain certainly got a lot of films from Alex and they've been pretty popular like the "Four Feathers". I was intrigued when I read he was supposedly in the spying game
for Churchill and MI6. I wonder if he got anything out of shooting the Four Feathers (1939) in that desert environment.
28th April 2005Sheldon Hall
You've hit the nail precisely on the head. Zoltan Korda did indeed film extensive location footage of the desert environment for political and military purposes, which was reportedly fed back to the government by Alex.

I wouldn't try too hard looking for those other films - they're not up to much! Spotting the FOUR FEATHERS stock footage is the most fun you'll have from them.
28th April 2005Rich
Waitin' for that book Sheldon!......
Sometimes I wonder why Sabu wasn't in the Four Feathers. Casting decision you think or Alex didn't want to mix up the Asian continent with the Mid East???
29th April 2005Sheldon Hall
It's a-comin'! Please be patient (as I keep telling mtself)...

Yes, casting Sabu might have seemed a bit incongrous. What role would he have played? The young Harry?!