I'll say it again: This is one of the greatest adventure/romance epics ever made -- and I don't use those terms lightly. Harry Faversham (John Clements), whose family wore its military tradition as its badge of honor, resigns his commission when his regiment is sent to Egypt to help win back the Sudan under Kitchener. His three best friends, who were fellow officers, and his fiance, Ethne Burroughs (June Duprez), give him white feathers as a mark of cowardice. He is determined to prove them wrong, goes to the Sudan on his own, and redeems himself in rousing adventures.
Particularly good is Ralph Richardson as Captain John Durrance, one of the three friends, who had silently been in love with Ethne Burroughs. Blinded by sunstroke and left for dead after an attack on his detachment by part of the Mahdi's Army, Durrance is rescued by a native peasant whom he cannot see and who will not speak. The peasant, of course, is Harry Faversham. Later in England, he faces a terrible dilemma with only one honorable choice. Richardson brings so much skill to the part of Durrance, whether the brisk and optimistic epitome of an upper-class officer or as a man in love doing the right thing, that he almost steals the movie.
The sweeping photography of the Nile and Egypt is first-rate, and the battle scenes are big and wide. The romance is understated and noble. And there is some sly, good-natured humor aimed by the Kordas at British traditions. The movie is more than 65 years old and is as fresh and exciting as it was when it first came out. It was filmed in Technicolor; the colors are rich and vibrant. It features a great score by Miklos Rozsa.
This is one of those excellent movies that make you wonder why anyone would attempt a remake.
Incidentally, June Duprez starred the next year in another great adventure, The Thief of Bagdad. It's as worth purchasing as Four Feathers.