The Four Feathers

Synopsis: 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(s): Zoltan Korda
Production: Criterion Collection
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
129 min

Afternoon, Parker.

Good afternoon, sir.

General Faversham

is waiting for you on the terrace.


Dr. Sutton, sir.

You've had a long journey, Doctor.

Oh, it's worth a journey

to join old comrades.

- Are they all coming?

- Same crowd.

- A year older.

- Ah.

- Sit down. Help yourself.

- Thank you.

Well, what's the news from London?

Well, haven't you heard?

Gordon's dead.

Murdered in Khartoum.

That's no news to me.

I said that was going to happen years ago

when they first sent Gordon to Egypt.

He wasn't hard enough.

They wanted someone like you

out there.

Just what I was going to say myself.

First time for a hundred years

there hasn't been a Faversham in the army...

and look at the mess they make.

I'm too old, the boy's too young.

Me own fault for not marrying sooner.

You remember the boy.

He's 15 years old today.

I'm going to let him dine with us tonight.

- Oh, good.

- I don't mind telling you, I'm worried about him.

- Oh?

- I can't understand the boy.

I send him to the best

army school in England...

spend half me time telling him

about his famous ancestors...

and what do you think?

I found him this morning

reading a poetry book!

Shelley, of all people!

So I want you to help me

lick this boy into shape and make him hard.

Gentlemen, to Crimea!

- Ah.

- Old comrades.

Old comrades!

- Arnold!

- Raglan!


Crimea, by Jove.

Ah, war was war in those days

and men were men.

No room for weaklings.

Balaclava, for instance.

Here. You fellows

remember the positions.

Now here, these nuts...

were the Russians.

Guns, guns, guns.

On the right,

the British infantry.

The thin red line.

There was the commander in chief.

And here was I...

at the head of the old 68th.

The right was impossible.

The left was blocked.

Behind us was the commander in chief.

I realized the position in a flash.

I said, "The 68th will move forward. "

Immediately one of my subalterns

came to me shaking.

Absolutely shaking!

I said, "What's wrong, Travers?"

Said, "I'm afraid to face those guns, sir. "

I said, "Would you rather face me?"

Hmph! He took one look at my face

and off he went.

Ten minutes later he was shot to pieces

at the head of his men.

As a soldier should be, eh?

I quite agree with you, General.

I can tolerate nerves before a battle,

but I can't stand cowardice.

I remember a soldier at Inkerman

when a Cossack charged down on him.

I saw a man raise his musket,

fumble with his trigger, then turn and run.

The Cossack's lance went in

at the back of his neck...

and came out in his throat.

Best thing that could have happened to him.

Do you remember Wilmington?

- Wilmington?

- Fine old service family.

Father killed at Inkerman...

grandfather blown up under Nelson

and an uncle scalped by Indians.

Oh, splendid record. Splendid.

What happened?

Well, the general ordered him

to gallop through the lines with a message.

Paralyzed with funk.

Couldn't move.

General sent his adjutant.

Killed before he'd gone 50 yards.

Sent his A.D.C.- head blown off.

Then he went through with

the message himself- lost his arm.

- Ruined his cricket.

- Oh, yes, I remember now.

He disgraced his family.

His father disowned him.

Hung about for a year or two,

then blew his brains out.

Ah, he had the courage

to blow his brains out.


Last spark of decency, that's all.

There's no place in England

for a coward.


Past 11:

Time you were in your bed.

No, no, no.

Sit you down, my boy. Sit you down.

It's the boy's birthday,

and we've not drunk his health!

- Go ahead, General.

- A toast to Harry!

And may he prove

the bravest of the Favershams.

- To Harry!

- Harry!

- Thank you.

- That's our boy.

- Good night, Father.

- Good night, Harry.

Good night, gentlemen.

- Fine boy.

- Yes.


You don't remember me.

I remember you though,

when you were about so long.

I was a doctor in your father's regiment

in the Crimea.

I knew your mother too, Harry.

She was my friend.

I'd like you to think of me

as your friend too.

If ever you should need me,

here's my card.

I'm not much use to anybody nowadays,

but if ever you feel the need, write to me.

Come and see me.

That's very kind of you, sir.

Thank you.

- Good night, sir.

- Good night, Harry.




Stand at ease!

Ten years ago...

General Gordon

was murdered in Khartoum...

and the British army

was withdrawn into Egypt...

without punishing the crime.

Today the Royal North Surrey Regiment...

is under orders to join

Sir Herbert Kitchener's Anglo-Egyptian army...

for the reconquest of the Sudan!


- Ooh, hello.

- Well, what's Egypt like, John?

Principally, sand, sweat and sunstroke.

- Ooh, lovely! When do we start?

- Can't say.

- Not before next Thursday.

- Heavens no.

Took them 10 years

to make up their minds.

- We'll be lucky if we start in a month.

- Splendid. Then I can give you these.

Mr. Harry Faversham,

Captain John Durrance...

and one for Fat Face Willoughby.

- Ooh, what's all this?

- An invitation to the Burroughs family bean feast.

Complete with regimental string band,

strawberry ices...

and a performing troupe of hired waiters.

Yes, my sister's coming of age.

Ethne is 21 next Thursday,

so Father is letting himself go.

- Champagne?

- Gallons!

- Oysters?

- Oysters in June? Don't be a fool.

I had 'em at my coming out.

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A.E.W. Mason

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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