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The Four Feathers (The Criterion Collection)

12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: John Clements, Ralph Richardson, C. Aubrey Smith, June Duprez, Allan Jeayes
  • Directors: Zoltan Korda
  • Format: Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Oct. 11 2011
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005DI9906
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,675 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

This spectacular Technicolor epic, directed by Zoltán Korda (Jungle Book), is considered the finest of the many adaptations of A.E.W. Mason’s classic 1902 adventure novel about the British Empire’s exploits in Africa, and a crowning achievement of Alexander Korda’s legendary production company, London Films. Set at the end of the nineteenth century, The Four Feathers follows the travails of a young officer (Rembrandt’s John Clements) accused of cowardice after he resigns his post on the eve of a major deployment to Khartoum; he must fight to redeem himself in the eyes of his fellow officers (including The Fallen Idol’s Ralph Richardson) and fiancée (The Thief of Bagdad’s June Duprez). Featuring music by Miklós Rózsa (The Killers) and Oscar-nominated cinematography by Georges Périnal (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp), The Four Feathers is a thrilling, thunderous epic.

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New high-definition digital restoration • Audio commentary by film historian Charles Drazin • New video interview with David Korda, son of director Zoltán Korda • A Day at Denham, a short film from 1939 featuring footage of Zoltán Korda on the set of The Four Feathers • Trailer • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Sragow

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 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 color cinematography are helped greatly by fellow Hungarian émigré Miklos Rozsa's epic score.

John Clements is the notional hero, the man who determines to show the world that 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 later scenes when Richardson's Capt. Durrance realizes 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By flask on May 21 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Alexander Korda's "The Four Feathers" (1939) is perhaps one of the greatest triumphs of British filmmaking -- a crowning achievement in Imperialistic propaganda and a nostalgic testimony to the societal traditions which once inhibited us as individuals. Simply put, "The Four Feathers" is a cinematic masterpiece in the vein of "The Drum" (1938), "Kim" (1950"), "The Jungle Book" (1942) and "Gunga Din" (1939). It also represents a rare instance in which a film is far superior to the original novel.
The original novel upon which the film is loosely based was penned by A.E.W. Mason and has an actual excuse for being somewhat flimsy: Following the bloody outbreak of World War I, Mason wrote the story as a mere identity cover while doing espionage work for the British government. He was able to scout northern Africa under this guise of an accomplished author gleaning material for the plot of the novel.
The plot of "Four Feathers" is simple yet engrossing: A young man, Harry Faversham (the dashing John Clements), is brought up by his distant father (Allan Jeayes) in a lonely household steeped in Imperial tradition which values courage and honor above happiness or life itself. His natural human instinct of self-preservation is accentuated into possible cowardice by the horrifying war stories told around the dinner table by old veterans. As he matures, Faversham falls deeply in love with Ethne Burroughs (the radiantly beautiful June Dupréz) and decides that he would rather spend his life in his own way than be trapped in the futile repetitiveness that is a soldier family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Keith Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 3 2013
Format: DVD
This review is for The Four Feathers (The Criterion Collection) written April 2013.

This 1939 film is a really excellent film; its exciting with a great plot and terrific character development. I highly recommend it to anyone over age 12.

And normally Criterion Collection obtains or makes excellent restorations.

*HOWEVER* in my opinion several segments of this version of this film are poorly restored. I do not recommend this version of this film (restored sometime prior to April 2013).

It made me nauseous. I had to stop watching after 45 minutes and resume watching the next day. Vertical scratches on some opening scenes, red and green fringes in too many later scenes. Reducing the color level to give pale colors considerably reduced the discomfort, but a newer restoration with better computer equipment would eliminate the problem.

I hope that one day Criterion Collection or someone else makes a better restoration of what is a great film.

(From having watched the descriptions of other properly restored Criterion Collections I can say that the green and red fringes come from the fact that early Technicolor films used 3 negatives. The 3 negatives would have slightly different shrink rates, meaning that the red, green or blue images would differ slightly in size causing these fringes. Normally computer restoration fixes this problem. In this version of the film the problem remains.)

From Criterion Collections website:
New high-definition digital restoration (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the
Blu-ray edition) [As I say above, I thought the restoration was poor. Simply not up to Criterion Collection standards in my opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevor CUSTANCE on May 23 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm from English descent and from Military heritage, my Grandfather being in the Anglo Boer War and Family members in WW 1 & WW 2, with friends serving in Korea. I have been a keen follower of the British Forces in the days of Empire building. I love the pomp and splendour and training of the beautifully uniformed troops. This is still prominent in my appreciation of such things as the Trooping of the Colour. C. Aubrey Smith was this films biggest asset, his absolute belief that there was no room for a coward in Britain. June Duprez was perfect in her role, but at first John Clements seemed rather weak for his role, but he gradually redeemed himself. I would recommend this fine film to anyone interested in this time in history, especially us oldsters. I'm sorry to say that this film would not be enjoyed by the younger generation. However, the latest version of this film would also not be accepted by most, young or old. I have this film and have only watched it twice.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Boeker on Feb. 18 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Film Buffs look to your neighbors across the Pond. I ordered "A Matter of Life or Death in VHS/Pal and converted it to DVD.The Brits have it in DVD/PAL The locals (USA) dont seem to want to budge (people who could get this on DVD). I'd suggest the same with this wonderful movie. I wrote to Carlton Films/e-mail to check on titles. Film Buffs of the Classics of Korda - there is a wealth of film sitting on the shelf. To serve the many the few are forgotten. Thanks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Jane Brink on Oct. 27 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The other day, I watched a re-make that fell short of this film. This classic is a masterpiece of acting, plot, direction, sets and costume. As an adventure story it is one of the best. As an historical military action film, it is superior. Since others have provided detailed reviews of the story and actors, I will simply say that this is a great film and did not deserve to be obscured by a second rate modern film of the same name.
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