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The Four Feathers [1939] [DVD]

John Clements , Ralph Richardson , Zoltan Korda    Universal, suitable for all   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
Price: 5.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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The Four Feathers [1939] [DVD] + Khartoum [DVD] + North West Frontier [1959] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: John Clements, Ralph Richardson, C. Aubrey Smith, June Duprez, Clive Baxter
  • Directors: Zoltan Korda
  • Producers: Alexander Korda
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Network
  • DVD Release Date: 12 Feb 2007
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,672 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Far too many film versions of the The Four Feathers have been made over the years, which is especially surprising considering that this 1939 Korda brothers production is surely definitive. The film simultaneously celebrates and pokes fun at British imperialism, showing the kind of dogged stiff-upper-lippery that forged an empire, but also the blinkered attitudes and crass snobbishness of the ruling classes (and those plummy accents--did people ever really talk like that?). Whatever political subtext may or may not be read into it, though, the film is best celebrated for its magnificent vistas: partially made on location in the Sudan, as well as at the famous Denham Studios, this is British cinema from the days when it thought to rival Hollywood for sheer spectacle. Vincent Korda's production design and the glorious early colour cinematography are helped greatly by fellow Hungarian émigré Miklos Rozsa's epic score.

John Clements is the notional hero, the man who is determined to show the world he is not a coward after resigning his commission (even though it would surely have saved everyone a lot of bother if he had just stuck with it) but the film is stolen by Ralph Richardson, magnificent as an officer struck blind and led to safety by Clements' Harry Faversham. The latter scenes when Richardson's Captain Durrance realises the truth and its implications are the most poignant and emotionally truthful in the film. C Aubrey Smith is delightful as the old buffer who relives his battles on the dinner table; to a modern audience, however, the "blackface" casting of John Laurie as the Khalifa strikes a discordant note. But adjusting some expectations for its vintage, this is a triumph of derring-do and far and away the most gripping version of this oft-told story on film. --Mark Walker

Product Description

Classic British adventure story of Harry Feversham (John Clements), a British officer, who resigns his commission on the eve of a battle in the Sudan. He is then given four white feathers by his friends and fiancée as a symbol of cowardice. Determined to win back his honour, Feversham exposes himself to hardship while disguised as a Sudanese in an attempt to aid his comrades. Directed by Zoltan Korda, this was the fourth film, but first sound version, of the tale.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
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.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage British cinema 18 July 2008
It is remarkable to think that this classic British adaption of A.E.W Masons' much-filmed 1902 novel dates back nearly seventy years at the time of writing. During the 1930s' British cinema was noted for its' so-called 'quota quickies'- run of the mill movies which are now largely forgotten. Of course there were some high quality pictures released here during that decade- notably for example Alfred Hitchcocks' remarkable run of features (albeit brilliant films that now look dated) and the hilarious exploits of Will Hay, but with the former about to depart for Hollywood it was left to the Hungarian-born Korda brothers to usher in the remarkable decade of British film making that was to follow. They had already made an impression in the world of film as early as 1933 with 'The Private Life of Henry VIII', cited by many as the first British feature to make an impact in America, but 'The Four Feathers' is filmmaking on a different level.

One of the most striking elements of this 1939 movie is its' feature-length, Academy Award-nominated Technicolor. Back then even American cinema was only just beginning to realise the possibilities of this new but expensive process; four years after the first full-length, three-strip technicolor film (Becky Sharp), black-and-white movies were still dominant. The cinematographer of The Four Feathers, Frenchman Georges Perinal, makes the most of the opportunity presented here; the colours used in the scenes set in England perfectly evoke the era of Britain in which it is set (the late 19th century) and the Egyptian scenes, including the shots of the River Nile and the desert, are simply stunning and even now they make spectacular viewing. The bright red uniforms worn by the soldiers also come through well.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Four Feathers and One Classic Movie 17 July 2007
This film has been made and remade 7 times this is the fourth remake and by far the best.
The 3 previous 2 had been silent movies thats didnt do very well and in 1929 another version was made but the 1939 version is the fim that stands out not only in 30's cinema but in cinema today.
starring John Clements, Ralph Richardson and June Duprez. Set in the 1880s during the reign of Queen Victoria, it tells the story of a man accused of cowardice.
It would be best to watch 1966 film called Khartoum starring Charlton Heston as Genral Gordan as the four feathers comes straight after the events in Khartoum.
This is an example of how great technicolor can be when it first came out still realy good colour to this day.
The Picture quality of the film i would give it 4 out 5 probably the best print out there.
Some great battle scenes towards the end a strong story.
A must for any cinema lover or fan of brittish cinema at its best.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly subversive fun 23 April 2003
The Korda 'Feathers' is a marvellous treat, in almost all categories superior to the recent remake which looks embarassingly bland in comparison.
Korda's film has edge, political rather than social, in its satire, and it raises the imperialist issue and questions patriotic flagwaving to an extent that makes it highly relevant today. Its jokes are consistently subversive, even more so today in the wake of the Iraqi war.
The film has an abounding authenticity when dealing with Egyptians and locations, and although the first battle seems rather lowbudget compared to the grandeur of the recent remake, overall this 1939 spectacularly Technicoloured film has all the production values one could wish for. This edition has been lovingly produced and is a joy to watch.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story of honour and integrity and of course the ...
My mother told me about this film some 60 years ago, I think she saw it during WW2. A great story of honour and integrity and of course the old stiff upper lip. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Peter Deare
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent service and highly recommended
Published 8 days ago by Horace
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
out dated , prefer the newer one
Published 10 days ago by sandra simpkins
2.0 out of 5 stars ... not meet my expectations and I certainly did not like it when...
No it did not meet my expectations and I certainly did not like it when compared to other versions which I had seen, and I certainly did, and to name the few : a) The... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Raja Jaafar
2.0 out of 5 stars Four feathers review
Colour good but picture kept freezing.
Published 1 month ago by v tolchard
5.0 out of 5 stars I have been a coward - and I wasn't happy.
The best cinematic treatment of A.E.W. Mason's novel is here, a rousing and moving tale of a military man who is branded as a coward by those closest to him. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Spike Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable
Prompted to buy this after viewing the later remake on TV which was disappointing. Had seen this production earlier in the cinema some years ago and wanted to prove this production... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Malcolm W. Hipple
3.0 out of 5 stars Cowardice
I remember watching this many years ago on television. Ralph Richardson is superb and as good as the film is, I preferred the book.
Published 5 months ago by P. R. Bryson
5.0 out of 5 stars great film
Its just the best film made of R.E Mathersons book
A story of romance and adventure and comradeship i saw the film as a child and did not appreciate what a great film this was... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Russell
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Four Feathers" on BLU RAY - Finally Available To UK and EUROPEAN...
At present (February 2014) this 1939 classic has only been available on BLU RAY in the States on the REGION-A LOCKED Criterion release - so it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK Blu Ray... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mark Barry
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