segunda-feira, 17 de abril de 2023

The Four Feathers (Zoltan Korda, 1939)

This movie is based on the 1902 adventure novel of the same name by British writer A. E. W. Mason. This is the fourth version out of six so far, including one TV movie. The most recent was made in 2002 with Heath Ledger, a version I would like to post here on the blog for comparison with the original one, but the movie is totally copyrighted.

Resigning his commission on the eve of his unit's deployment against Egyptian rebels, a British officer 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.

Director Zoltan Korda

Stars: John Clements, Ralph Richardson, C. Aubrey Smith, June Duprez.


The action scenes, photographed by Osmond Borradaile, were not only filmed where the historical battles had taken place, but also included among the many extras, people who had witnessed or participated in the fighting more than forty years earlier. These battle scenes further benefitted from Director Zoltan Korda's expertise at large-scale action and his early experience as a cavalry officer.

The sailing ships pulled by hordes of Sudanese along the Nile were constructed specially for the production in exact period detail at great cost.

Producer Alexander Korda spared no expense in this production, shooting in Technicolor, and doing most of the exteriors on-location in the Sudan.

For historical accuracy, Zoltan Korda hired a military Technical Advisor, Brigadier Hector Campbell, and had him drill the actors and extras exactly the same as soldiers would have been in the period of this movie's setting.

The Korda brothers (Alexander, Vincent, and Zoltan) had a working relationship and method that sometimes agitated their English cast and crew, who were not used to sudden, loud arguments conducted in Hungarian and halting English peppered with expletives. John Clements recalled sitting in Alexander's office discussing a point of production when suddenly the three brothers broke into a violent screaming match. "Zolly (Zoltan) started picking things up off the table and throwing them on the floor, and I really thought they were going to kill each other," Clements said. Just as suddenly as it began, however, the fight stopped "and everybody embraced, including me, and we all had a nice cup of tea, and that was that."

This movie was shot partially on-location on the East bank of the Nile where the historical incidents depicted in the movie occurred in 1898.

Although he was a stickler for historical fidelity, Director Zoltan Korda was not above stretching the truth for the sake of spectacle. As shooting was about to begin on the lavish ballroom scene, he went into a fit over the fact that the officers were all clad in blue uniforms. Technical Advisor Brigadier Hector Campbell, informed him that this was the proper dress for a private party in the late 1800s. "But this is Technicolor!" Korda roared, and the uniforms were changed to bright red.

To prove he can read braille, Durrance (Sir Ralph Richardson) scans with his fingers and reads out a speech spoken by Caliban from Act III, scene ii of Shakespeare's "The Tempest", before admitting he "knew that bit by heart anyway". Richardson played Caliban in the famous Old Vic production of "The Tempest" in 1930, which starred Sir John Gielgud as Prospero.

Alexander Korda decided not to direct, because his last two directorial efforts, "Os Amores de Don Juan (1934)" and "Rembrandt (1936)," had not been commercial successes. He had also lost considerable money on the aborted I, Claudius, a movie that was well into production when it was abandoned. On top of that, the pressure of running the large, recently purchased Denham Studios made it all the more appealing to turn to a proven success like Mason's story and to concentrate on producing, while brother Zoltan Korda directed.

The "khalifa's" army is preceded by a black banner and green banners. The green banners are associated with 'Alí. The black banner is meant to represent the promised one who, according to tradition was to bear such a flag. This fictional "khalifa" represents an actual person - the self-styled Mahdi, or promised one - who did use such a banner to promote his claim.

Trivia thanks to IMDb.

Subs: English & Portuguese

Video Link: https://youtu.be/Rk3ThZnFBXA

Copyright owner is blocking in these territories

Canada, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Samoa, U.S. Outlying Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, United States

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