The Four Feathers (1939) - full transcript

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.

Afternoon, Parker.

Good afternoon, sir.

General Faversham
is waiting for you on the terrace.


Dr. Sutton, sir.

You've had a Iong journey, Doctor.

Oh, it's worth a journey
tojoin oId comrades.

- Are they all coming?
- Same crowd.

- A year oIder.
- Ah.

- Sit down. Help yourself.
- Τhank you.

Well, what's the news from London?

Well, haven't you heard?

Gordon's dead.
Murdered in Κhartoum.

That's nonews tome.

I said that was going tohappen years ago
when they first sent Gordon toEgypt.

He wasn't hard enough.

They wanted someone like you
out there.

Just what I was going tosay myself.

First time for a hundred years
there hasn't been a Faversham in the army...

and Iook at the mess they make.

I'm toooId, the boy's tooyoung.

Me own fault for not marrying sooner.

You remember the boy.

He's 15 years oId today.

I'm going tolet 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 tothe best
army schooI in England...

spend half me time telling him
about his famous ancestors...

and what doyou think?

I found him this morning
reading a poetry book!

Shelley, of all people!

SoI want you tohelp me
lick this boy intoshape and make him hard.

Gentlemen, toCrimea!

- Ah.
- Old comrades.

Old comrades!

- ArnoId!
- Raglan!


Crimea, by Jove.

Ah, war was war in those days
and men were men.

Noroom 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 oId 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 tome shaking.

Absolutely shaking!

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

Said, "I'm afraid toface those guns, sir."

I said, "Would you rather face me?"

Hmph! He took one Iook at my face
and off he went.

Ten minutes later he was shot topieces
at the head of his men.

As a soIdier 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 soIdier 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 tohim.
Doyou remember Wilmington?

- Wilmington?
- Fine oId 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
togallop through the lines with a message.

Paralyzed with funk.
Couldn't move.

General sent his adjutant.

Κilled before he'd gone 50 yards.

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

Then he went through with
the message himself- Iost 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
toblow his brains out.

Last spark of decency, that's all.

There's noplace in England
for a coward.


Past 11:00.
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!

- Goahead, General.
- A toast toHarry!

And may he prove
the bravest of the Favershams.

- ToHarry!
- 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 soIong.

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 tothink of me
as your friend too.

If ever you should need me,
here's my card.

I'm not much use toanybody nowadays,
but if ever you feel the need, write tome.

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 intoEgypt...

without punishing the crime.

Today the Royal North Surrey Regiment...

is under orders tojoin
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, Iovely! When dowe start?
- Can't say.

- Not before next Thursday.
- Heavens no.

Took them 10 years
tomake 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 tothe 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,
soFather is letting himself go.

- Champagne?
- Gallons!

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

I had 'em at my coming out.
I had the sense tobe born in March.

Father's going tobe terrific.

He's given four speeches already,
and he's been rehearsing them in the bathroom.

"My Iords, ladies and gentlemen
and officers of my oId regiment...

this is an occasion
for double rejoicing.

I am proud toannounce
not only my daughter's coming of age...

but alsoher engagement tothe son
of my oId comrade in arms...

Mr. Harry Faversham
of the Royal North Surrey Regiment."

What, him?

- Our own Harry Faversham.
- Oh, I say, this is very sudden.

They've been signaling for it
for months.

- Good luck, Harry.
- Thanks.

Good luck, Harry.

Thanks, John.

What about this Egypt business?
You can't take her with you, you know.

When the Dervishes catch a white man,
they cut his nose off...

and hang him up by the toes.

Ooh, disgusting business.
All the money falling out of your pockets.

I'll see you at dinner.

Did I frighten the poor lad?

Shouldn't be surprised.

I don't know what's come over the lad.
Can't take a joke.

Never takes a drink.
Moons about all day.

Reads poetry all night.

If that's Iove, give me indigestion.

Oh. Uh, time toget changed.

- SoIong.
- SoIong.

I'm sorry, John. I was a fooI
tomake a joke of it like that.

- I know how you feel about her.
- That's all right, Peter.

It was for her todecide.

I wish it had been you, all the same.

See you at mess.

After all, there are plenty of other girls.


For other men.

Um, uh, many years ago...

I fought in the Crimea...

beside that very gallant soIdier
General Faversham...

whose death last year
was, uh, such a Ioss tous.

Hear! Hear!

Tonight I am proud toannounce
the engagement of my daughter...

toHarry Faversham...

my dear oId friend's only son.


- Good oId Harry!
- Good luck, Harry!

Ten years ago,
when Harry was a boy...

I raised my glass in his honor...

with the toast, "May he prove
the bravest of all the Favershams."

Harry Faversham...

coupled with the name
of my daughter Ethne.


- Good luck!
- Good luck, Harry.

The company is now dismissed.

The business of dancing
will now commence.



Well, CoIonel, you're off
on this Egyptian affair, eh?

Of course it's only a minor campaign.
It'll doyou a world of good.

The army's toosoft nowadays.

- You mean not hard enough?
- Of course!

Now, the Crimea - Ah!

War was war in those days...

and men were men.

Let me tell you
what happened at Balaclava.

Uh, you remember the positions,
Doctor, don't you?

Only toowell.
I was over there, on the extreme left.

Here were the Russian batteries,
behind the nuts.

Guns, guns, guns, guns.

On the right, the British infantry.

The thin red line.

I suppose they didn't
get much toeat.

- What are you talking about?
- Well, sir, you said they were so- sothin.

Bah! The line, I meant!

- Not the men.
- Oh.

Right here was the commander in chief.

And here was I...

at the head of the oId 68th.


- Sorry Father had todrag Egypt intoit.
- Tired of Egypt already?

We have it for breakfast and lunch...

and the honor of the regiment
for supper.

I suppose he quite understands
you're marrying me and not the regiment.

He's not quite sure about that.

Are you... quite sure?

When we are oId
and creaky with rheumatism...

we shall Iook back
and think of this night.

Ethne, you'll never creak.
Never in your life.

We shall creak with the best of them.

And through the creaks
will come the sound of this dance music...

and the light of the moon
and the scent of the flowers.

This is a solemn occasion, Harry.

A memory is being born tonight...

a memory that shall stand
the test of all the years.

Moments like this are better
than all the memories in the world.

The memories will be the best...

because they'll be right out of reach
of uncertainty and care.

Memories just float about on their own
with noshadows upon them.

The dance music, the moon
and evening primroses. That's all.




You're not going torob me
of my solitary dance, Ethne.

John, I'm sosorry. It's my fault.
Is this your dance going on?

- It's just started.
- Oh, dear. There's a partner waiting for me.

Excuse me.

It wasn't his fault, John.
It was mine. I talk toomuch.

- Shall we dance?
- It's a poIka.

- Don't you like a poIka?
- A bit jerky, isn't it?

Rather like saying "good-bye"
in Morse code.

- I'm sorry, John.
- There's noneed tobe sorry.

- It's terribly hard toexplain.
- There's nothing toexplain.

You don't expect a girl
tosit down and write out a catalog -

points why I Iove Mr. "A,"
points why I don't Iove Mr. "B."

It's only Mr. "B" whosits down
and puzzles out the points against him.

I never saw such an impressive list.

Reasons why Ethne Burroughs
doesn't Iove John Durrance.

- Reason one -
- Don't, John.

Oh, I put down
about 40 reasons altogether.

Reason 41 was,
she Ioves the other man.

SoI crossed the rest out.

- Thank you.
- Harry's a fine fellow.

Were you tohelp him,
he shall have a splendid career.

- You'll enjoy helping him, won't you?
- I hope I shall be able to.

You will.
I think you'll be very happy.

And I think I shall always Iove you.

Oh, John, dear.

I'm sosorry.

Oh, rubbish.
I shall be all right.

You're not going tobe sorry for anything tonight.
Come and dance that poIka. I've just learnt it.


- Faversham.
- See what he wants, Lubbock.

He wants tosee you privately, sir.

Oh, very well.

Well, Faversham?

I want you toaccept this, sir.

- What is it?
- I am resigning my commission.

Resigning your commission?

- What doyou mean?
- I mean just that, sir.

I don't understand you, Faversham.

I should have taken this action
months ago.

I only accepted a commission
for my father's sake...

because all his family have been soIdiers.

But when he died,
my duty towards him was done.

Your duty towards him?

Have you noduty towards your country?

Oh, golie down in a dark room, my boy.
You'll be all right in the morning.

I've made up my mind, sir.

Faversham, if you dothis...

you will regret it
for the rest of your life.

I'm sorry, sir.
I've made up my mind.

You're deliberately
shirking your duty, sir!

I refuse toaccept your resignation!

I am within my rights toresign, sir.
You cannot refuse.

I never thought I should live tosee
a Faversham play the coward.

- May I go, sir?
- Yes.


- The officers -
- Well?

Are waiting, sir.


final orders have just arrived.

The regiment leaves on Thursday.

We march toPortsmouth
and embark at midday.

I, uh - I've just received this telegram
from General Κitchener.

"Glad towelcome your regiment
tomy command."

- Well, that's very nice of him, isn't it?
- Gentlemen.

There will be one change
in regimental orders for the 15th.

Mr. Faversham has seen fit
tosend in his papers...

on the eve of his regiment
sailing for active service.

His place will be taken by Mr. Parker,
whowas tohave remained at the depot.

- Well done, Parker!
- Glad you're coming with us!


- Ohh!
- Look out, sir!

- Well, I must be off.
- Good-bye, John.

- Good-bye.
- Good luck toyou.

- And keep an eye on young Peter for me.
- I will, sir. Both eyes.

There's a Iovey dove!

What's she crying for?


Well, good-bye, Aggie.

Take care of your ma.

- Bye.
- Good-bye, Iovey.

Don't take on now.

I'm all right.
The kids are going tomiss you.

- Good-bye, my boy.
- Good-bye, Father.


- The dogs are going tomiss you.
- Yes, sir!

# Should auld acquaintance be forgot #

# In the days of auld lang syne #

# For auld lang syne, my dear #

# For auld lang syne #

# We'll take a cup of kindness yet #

# For the days of auld lang syne ##


What's happened? Peter left last night.
Father went with him tosee you all off.

They've canceled it.
You're not going after all?

They've gone.

The regiment sailed this morning.

- But I haven't gone with them.
- I don't understand.

We've discussed it sooften -

the futility of this idiotic
Egyptian adventure...

the madness of it all...

the ghastly waste of time
that we can never have again.

- What have you done, Harry?
- I've resigned my commission.

I should have done it sooner.

Long ago.

It's released me
from the life of an impostor.

That's all a man is when he fails
tobe true tothe things he believes in.

I believe in our happiness.

I believe in the work tobe done here
tosave an estate that's near toruin...

tosave all those people
who've been neglected by my family...

because they preferred glory in India,
glory in China, glory in Africa.

Oh, excuse me, miss.

This package has just arrived for Mr. Faversham
addressed in your care...

and marked urgent, miss.

Thank you.

"Mr. Thomas Willoughby."

"Mr. Peter Burroughs."

"Captain John Durrance."

Well, they had a fine send-off, Ethne.

I went aboard and had lunch with them
before they sailed.

Peter has a cabin
with John Durrance and Willoughby.

I'm glad the three boys
are going tobe together.

- Father, I -
- Yes.

It was a wonderful sight,
the vessel steaming out intothe channel...

and all those men cheering and -

May I speak toyou a moment, sir?

It was cruel tosend these.

Cruel, but just.

That's what you think, isn't it?

You needn't tell me, Ethne.
I can see it quite clearly in your eyes.

We agreed always
tobe honest with each other, Harry...

tokeep nosecret from each other.

When you did this...

did you believe
that I should be proud of you?

I thought you'd understand.

We've sooften talked of these things
and we've always understood each other.

I know, Harry. We've talked and we've dreamed
of things we'd doif we were free.

Some people are born free. They can dowhat
they like without concern for consequences.

But you were not born free, Harry,
and nor was I.

We were born intoa tradition...

a code which we must obey
even if we donot believe.

And we must obey it, Harry...

because the pride and happiness of everyone
surrounding us depends upon our obedience.

I quite understand.

There should be four feathers here.

We agreed always
tobe honest with each other.

Give it tome.


Come on!



Shoulder arms!

Present arms!



Shoulder arms!



- You've served here before.
- Abu Klea, sir.

Then you know what toexpect.

- You too?
- I've been out here ever since, sir.

- You married?
- Yes, sir.

- Children?
- Four, sir.

When I left home.



- Harry Faversham.
- Hello, Doctor.

Why, what's happened?
I thought your regiment had gone.

Oh, yes, they've gone,
like the guards have gone tonight.

Years ago, Harry, I gave you my card.
Doyou remember?

Yes, Doctor, I remember.

In case you ever needed any help.

Come along. We'll have
a quiet supper at my club.

It's just across the park.
The Naval and Military.

No, not there,
if you don't mind, Doctor.

- Let's gotomy rooms.
- Very well.

You tell me you left the army...

because your duty toyour home...

was greater than your duty
towards a crowd of African peasants?

Well, there's nothing
dishonorable in that, Harry.

If that's all,
if that's the whole truth...

then these feathers are an insult
tobe treated with the contempt they deserve.

If that were all, I should have put them on the fire
and you would have never seen them.

But you know that it's not all.


Just as Ethne knew.


I was toId a ghastly story when I was a boy,
and you were there when it was toId.

An officer whofailed tocarry a message
because he was paralyzed with fear.

An officer disgraced
and hounded out of society...

whoshot himself in a back room
off the Haymarket because his life was ruined.

That story haunted me.

Many a man is haunted by some fear.

With me it was more than fear.
My father despised me.

He believed me tobe a coward.

His belief turned fear intoreality.

I knew that if ever fate put me in the same position,
I should behave like that man...

and meet the same end.


I am a coward, Doctor.

If I'd been anything but a soIdier, I might have
lived my whole life and concealed it.

But tobe a soIdier and a coward
is tobe an impostor...

a menace tothe men
whose lives are in your hands.

When orders came for Egypt...

I knew that fate
was closing in round me...

just as it closed round that other man.

I fought against it.

I believed in all the reasons I gave
for shirking my job.

I deceived myself.

But I didn't deceive my friends.

The men whosent me these feathers
knew me better than I knew myself.

The man whotries tocheat his fate
is more than a coward. He's a fooI as well.

You're wrong there, Harry.

I never met a fooI whohad
the imagination tobe a coward.

If I thought you were a coward, Harry...

I should take this with me...

fight you for it if necessary.

It's because I know you've nointention
of using it on yourself...

that I leave it here.

Harry, is there anything I can do?

Yes, Doctor,
there is something you can do.


I shall be leaving England tomorrow.

I shall write toyou from time totime...

just totell you that I'm alive.

If you don't hear from me for a year...

you'll know that I'm dead.

If that happens,
I should like you togotoEthne...

and tell her that
at least I tried toput right...

the shame and humiliation
that I caused her.

Can you tell me where you're going?


- Dr. Harraz?
- Yes?

I've come from England,
from an oId friend of yours - Dr. Sutton.

Dr. Sutton! I remember him.
I served with him in a hospital in India.

- How is he?
- He's well. He sends you his greeting.

What may I dofor you?

I have a mission toreach the army
of General Kitchener.

I want your help
todisguise me as a native.

- You speak Arabic?
- No.

- You have some native tongue?
- No.

But the army of General Κitchener
is 400 miles away...

across country
in the hands of the enemies.

How then can a doctor help you,
except tocertify you as mad?

I'm toId there is a native tribe
called the Sangali...

that once revoIted against the Κhalifa.

And in revenge the Κhalifa branded them,
cut out their tongues from their heads...

and made them outcasts.

- You know the brand?
- All men know the brand of the Sangali.

Then you understand
the reason of my visit, Doctor.

But, my dear young man,
you will miss your tongue in many ways.

I will keep my tongue.
Noone will Iook for it if I'm branded.

I can stain your skin...

but I cannot imitate a scar
that would escape detection.

That I understand.

Is your mission then
of such importance?

May I stay in your house
until the wound is healed?

You are a brave man.

Ah, Durrance.

- ToId toreport, sir.
- Kitchener's been talking tome.

You know what the situation is.

The main army and provision ships
must get up the Nile.

It's the only feasible route
up country towards Omdurman.

But the river's blocked
by the Κhalifa's army...

and our ships
can't get through the gorge.

Now, the Κhalifa must be drawn away,
by some sort of bluff, intothe desert.

Yes, sir.

Now, if one of our brigades
appeared on his flank...

he'd have toturn away and face it.

- That would leave the river unguarded.
- Yes, sir.

Now, General Kitchener can't spare
a regiment, much less a brigade...

but he can spare a company.

Number Five Company
of the Royal North Surreys.

Thank you, sir.

Number one section, by the left!
Quick march!

Number twosection, by the left!
Quick march!

Number three section, by the left!
Quick march!

Number four section, by the left!
Quick march!


Left, right, left.

Whois this man?

How much did he overhear?


That was a very bad performance,
Mr. Faversham.

Notrue Sangali would enter a room
with the self-assurance of an Englishman.

- Why was that fellow in such a funk?
- He was terrified you might betray him.

- Oh, I see.
- But for myself I have nosuch fears.

But I must admit I should feel
a little more comfortable...

if you would tell me frankly why all this -
the wandering, the disguise.

In England four people
gave me a white feather apiece.

- They've got totake them back.
- Oh, a mad race, the English.

No, not somad.

In England, the white feather
is the mark of a coward.

Ah, I see. Then why worry?

Be a coward and be happy.

No, Doctor.

I have been a coward,
and I wasn't happy.

Tell me, did he bring any news?

Yes. He says a North Surrey regiment
has left Abu Hamid.

By crossing the desert
you could pick them up at the Nile...

perhaps near the 5th Cataract.

Part of Κitchener's army
is going up the river in boats.

They will be hauled up the cataract
by native labor.

There is your chance.



- All right, Sergeant?
- All correct, sir.

We've rigged up enough scarecrows
toIook like the entire blooming army!

That ought todraw them, all right.

The men can rest,
but be ready tomove without delay.

The moment we're spotted we won't have time
tosit about and admire the view.

- No, sir.
- Take the men back tothe camp.

- You watch from that jebel over there.
- Very good, sir.

Your watch.
NoFuzzies round here.

- I'm gonna have a word with the captain.
- Right, Sarge.


- Twomen!
- Clark! On the double!

You get the rifles.
Come on. Give me a hand.

Didn't we ought tostart him
back tocamp at once?

His orders were tostay here till we
seen Dervishes, and we ain't seen none.

It's ice we want
toclap on the back of his neck.

Yes, and a couple of saucy nurses
toclap it on for him.

- Can you see anything?
- No.

I can't make it out.

He said he'd be back by dawn
at the latest.

Well, perhaps he's spotted a covey of Dervishes
and wants tokeep an eye on them.

No. If he'd spotted any Dervishes,
he'd be back in notime.







Who's there?

Corporal Evans, sir.

How Iong have I been lying here?

Since this time yesterday, sir.

- What's the time now?
- About 3:00, sir.

Call Sergeant Brown
the moment it's daylight.

But - But it's light now, sir.

- It's afternoon.
- Huh?


- Call Sergeant Brown.
- Yes, sir.

- Sergeant Brown!
- What is it?

- Captain wants you.
- All right.

- Sergeant Brown here, sir.
- Come in, come in.

Glad tosee you're better, sir.
Nosign of Dervishes yet.

Yes. Now strike the camp immediately.
I spotted Dervish yesterday.

- There's not one moment toIose.
- Very good, sir.

Corporal Clark, call in your men!

Hughes, fetch the captain's horse!
Come on! On the double then!

All right, fall in! Fall in!

Come on, men! Fall in! Come along.
Come on then.

Ready tomarch off, sir!

Sergeant, come here.
Don't - Don't goaway. I -

I want you to-
tohelp me tomy horse.

Oh, very good, sir.


FIower and Bardell, strike the tent.
Put it on the mule and foIIow us behind.

Section at ease! Quick march!

- Take me right up tomy tent.
- Very good, sir.

Glad tosee you back, sir.
We were getting a little worried.

Ah, need toworry.
I spotted some Dervish yesterday.

That's why I stayed up there -
tokeep watch.

They saw us, all right,
sothat's half our work done.

Sergeant, give the men some food
and see they get tosleep immediately.

Very good, sir.

- Willoughby?
- Yes, sir?

- Parker?
- Yes, sir?

Put those fires out, will you.
Double the sentries round here.

There's noimmediate danger, but we've
got tokeep on the alert from now on.

- Yes, sir.
- Right. Put your fire out.

Oi, Bill, give us a hand
with this fire?

Simper, Curtis, Gamble,
bring your equipment round.

Good night, boys.

- Peter?
- Yes, John?

I got a touch of the sun
out there yesterday.

Hard luck, oId boy.
I know what it is.

- I had sunstroke when I was a kid at schooI.
- Oh? H- How did it affect you?

- Well, it gave me a devil of a headache.
- Oh.

You Iook a bit done-in, John.
You ought totake a good rest.

Yes. Now listen, Peter.
We're not in a healthy spot here.

Things may be a good deal worse
before we're through.

I'm feeling a bit groggy.
I'm going in torest now.

- Will you Iook after things for me here tonight?
- Yes, of course.

- Shall I help you in?
- No, no, no. I'll be all right in the morning.

- Seen anything?
- No, sir.

- Well, keep your eyes open.
- Very good, sir.

The mules are restless, sir.
Bad sign.

Yes, I know.
I shall be glad when the sun rises.

Yes, sir.



Bugler, alarm!


Alarm! Alarm!

- Alarm!
- ##

Load! Present! Fire!



Load. Present. Fire!

Present. Fire!

Load. Fire!

- Peter, where are you?
- Here, John.

Are they all around us?
I can't see in this smoke.

Load. Present. Fire!

Present! Fire!

Load. Present. Fire!



- Sir.
- Yes?

- Ali has news, sir.
- Good. What does he know?


Well, the Κhalifa's left the Nile
with his whole army.

Fine. That's the news we're waiting for.
Madsen, give orders tosail at once.

Now, this is grand.
We'll soon be up toOmdurman...

and Κitchener can have his battle
where he wants it.

Ah, thanks toDurrance.
He's done a magnificent job.


Is that you, Peter?







For God's sake, answer me!

Oh, is that you, Peter?

I'm blasted near mad.

I - I can't see, Peter.

It's nogood pretending anymore.

I can't see. I - I'm blind.

The sun got me
out there in the mountains.

Why don't you speak?

What's the matter?

Whoare you?

What, are you all dumb?
Have you never seen a blind man before?

Whothe devil are you? Speak!

If you can't speak English,
speak Arabic, but speak! Speak!

Or it's true then.

They're all dead.

All my company wiped out.

Nothing but a blind man
and a dumb lunatic.

There's nothing left
but death from thirst.

Come here.

Come here.

Lean your head against
the one cooI thing...

left in this blasted furnace.

You won't? All right.

Well, gotothe devil alone.

Give it! Give it tome!

Give it tome!

I'll kill you! Let go.

Alarm! Alarm!

Company, stand to!

Company, fall in!

Load! Present! Fire!

Fire! Load! Present!

Fire! Fire!

Load! Present!

Give me my helmet, Sergeant, will you?


Don't you like the poIka?

A bit jerky, isn't it?

Ethne, I shall Iove you always.

Hello, Doctor.

I'm glad tofind you alone, Ethne.

- I really came here totalk toyou.
- Well, Doctor?

I want toknow if you've heard
from Harry Faversham.

I've heard nothing.

It was his own wish and my wish
that the break should be complete.

I've noidea where he is
or what he's doing.

I promised togive you a message when I saw him
on the night before he left England...

a year ago.

A year ago?

Then -

I don't understand, Doctor.

He left England for one purpose only.

If he succeeded, he said
that you would learn by means...

that would need noexplanation.

If he failed,
then he asked me tolet you know...

that at least he'd done his best.

I see.

He promised towrite tome now and then
just toshow that he was still alive.

If I heard nothing for a year...

then his silence would show
that he was dead.

My dear.

Sothat's the end.

You think I behaved brutally tohim,


I did behave brutally.

I behaved like the worst kind of coward.

I failed tohelp him
when he was soterribly in need of help.

Nothing that you could have done
would have made him alter his decision.

I could have helped him.

If you'd gone on your knees,
you could have done nothing.

His mind was made up.

You must always remember that, Ethne...

for the sake of his memory
and for your own happiness.

Oh. Ethne!

What are you twomooching about
outside for?

Just having a dose
of your country air, General.

It'll be a dose of bronchitis
if you don't take care.

Come on in, Ethne.
Give us some sherry.

Look, there's an Arab!
He's got an officer.

- Blimey! He's trying torob him.
- Come on. Let's get him.

Abdul, ask him what he has tosay.

It is useless, Your Excellency.

He's one of the Sangali tribe.
He cannot speak.

Put him with those twohorse thieves
we got yesterday...

and send him toAbu Hamid
tomend the roads.

- March him out, Sergeant.
- Sir.

The doctor, sir.

- Well, Doctor, how's Durrance?
- He'll pull through.

Splendid. He's a fine officer.

The regiment can't spare
a man like that.

He's blind.


exposure of the eyes tothe sun.

I've seen it before, CoIonel.

A man alone bowled over suddenly
lies there exposed.

But with rest and care, he'll get better?

With immediate attention,
there might have been a chance in a hundred.

Now there's none.
The nerves are completely destroyed.


- Good work, boy. Good work. Good work.
- Bravo!

Ha-ha! You'll have me riding tohounds
in a couple of weeks.

- Up another six inches, Joe.
- Nomore today.

Just one more.
Just a tiny little bit more.

Tomorrow, John.
It's time todress for dinner.

Dress? I can dress in 10 minutes now.
Κnocked twominutes off my record this morning.

There's your shaving lesson
before dinner too, sir.

Aha! Yes, my shaving lesson.
Alsomy lesson in making bow ties.

Lots of fun in going back
toschooI again, Ethne.

Joe's a great teacher.
Ought tobe a professor.

Easy with a good pupil, sir.

And nomore of those infernal
chopped-up meals.

I'm feeling like a lesson
in carving roast chicken tonight.

I'll see you at dinner.
Come on, Joe.

Thank you.

Brave man.

I hope I can make him very happy.

All right, Joe.
You doit for me, will you?

Look here, Ethne. I -

I've been wanting tosay something toyou
for a Iong time.

Beastly difficult toknow how toput it.

Of course, it's nobusiness of mine...

but are you sure you're right
in what you're doing?

Quite sure.

You know, a man becomes a soIdier with
all the knowledge of the risks ahead of him.

If misfortune comes,
it's all part of the game.

He doesn't ask
for any pity or sympathy.

But you've got your whole life before you.

I know it's a noble, unselfish impulse...

but for 30 or 40 years -
maybe 50 years -

Father, please don't talk
about being noble.

There's nothing like that about it.
It's just -

Well, it's just that
I've made up my mind.

Yes. The Arab is a strange,
unexpected creature.

Yes, yes. Wait a minute.
You haven't heard the end yet.

Here's a solitary Arab. Heaven knows
where he comes from or how he's alive.

He packs my map,
slings my water bottle round my neck...

and never says a word
from beginning toend.

- That must have been uncanny.
- Uncanny?

It nearly drove me mad.

Yet I knew all the time
he was trying tosave me.

How many days we traveled
I shall never know.

I was crazy with fever.
Must have been the best part of a week.

He gets me in a boat,
floats me down the Nile...

till he comes within sight of the camp,
and then -

Now, here's the extraordinary part.

Having done enough towin
the Victoria Cross...

he lays me down outside the camp
and calmly begins torob me.

Nothing strange in that.
Just Eastern business mentality.

He'd done a job of work
and was taking payment.

Poor devil got less than he bargained for.

I carried nopapers on active service
and nomoney.

Huh. He got nothing then.

He nearly got one thing -
the only thing I was carrying.

- Remember this?
- It's my letter.

Your letter.
There's a funny thing in this letter.

Ethne, read -
read the postscript you wrote.

It's still got some sand in it.

- You can keep the sand as a souvenir.
- Thank you -

- Goon. Read the postscript.
- Let me read it.

Take care not toget sunstroke."

You always said I knew toomuch
totake advice.

Ethne, darling, I'm sorry.
You're trembling.

You mustn't take it like that.

It's all over now.
It might have been a Iot worse.

I'd have been dead six months ago
if it hadn't been for my little Arab friend.

And what happened
toyour little Arab friend?

I wish I knew.
They sent the poor devil toa convict gang.

When I came tomy senses,
it was toolate tofind him.

He'd escaped.
I was never able totrace him.

Now for a turn in the garden.
Stay here.

I'll get my coat and fetch yours, Ethne.

Oh. My letter.

Thank you.

SoHarry's alive...

or was when he paid that debt.

Oi, Peter.

Good of them toentertain us for nothing.

If I had my hands free, I'd applaud.

If I had my hands free for 10 seconds...

I'd strangle that filthy little blighter
with the monkey.

Get out, you -


Willoughby. DoI still Iook sane?

No. DoI?

"Don't despair."


Perhaps our message got through.

Perhaps Durrance did get away
and sent this fellow...

togive us some hope of escape
from this hell.

Escape? I wonder.

I wonder what his plan is.


Κaraga Pasha.

Tell me, which doyou think would give
the better chance of escape -

the desert or the river?

How should I know?
Nobody has ever escaped from here.

But surely some attempts
must have been made tofree you.

Yes, years and years ago...

but they all failed.

How Iong have you been here?

- Since Gordon was killed.
- Thirteen years.


- Swim?
- Yes?

See island.

Tomorrow. Boat waiting.

So, the mad musician of Omdurman
was a British spy.

What message did you give
toyour British friends?

The Khalifa will reward and spare you
if you will dohis bidding.

What doyou know of Kitchener's army?

If you won't answer,
we'll flog you until you do.


- There you are.
- Thank heavens for that.

Well, that's the end of that.

Nopork for dinner.

Poor devil. They've flogged him.

I wonder whohe is.

Looks like an Arab.
Probably paid by our people tohelp us.

I wonder if he's got any papers on him.

Spies don't usually carry papers about.

Well, I made a nice mess of that,
didn't I?

- Faversham!
- Harry, how the devil did you get here?

- Whosent you?
- Nobody.

Then what you - what you doing here?

- For heaven's sake, explain, Harry.
- There's notime toexplain now.

We're in an infernal mess,
but there's still a chance. Now listen tome.

The Κhalifa has gone out
tomeet Kitchener.

If he gets beaten,
he'll slit our throats in revenge.

If he wins, he'll slit 'em out of pure joy.

Right opposite the prison gates
is the arsenal of the Κhalifa.

That's our one chance. Just a couple of guards
and a few storekeepers, and that's about all.

- Have you got that file?
- Yes. That file was an absolute brain wave.

We must work like blazes.

Now, is there anybody here whounderstands
the language of these poor devils?

Yes. That oId fellow over there.
I'll goand fetch him.

Are you all right, Harry?

I'm all right, Fat Face.

Harry. This is Κaraga Pasha...

once governor
of the province of Κordofan.

You speak English
and the language of these people?

I speak Arabic and Greek.
They all understand one or the other.

Then you can doa great service
toyourself and toall these people.

Will you tell them that I have brought
the means of setting them free?

Tell them that once they are freed,
on noaccount...

must they make a sign or a movement
until they get the word from me.

We must work very fast.
Tom, break that file in two.

Bring me the strongest man first.



- Bayonets!
- Bayonets.

They're deploying toattack, sir.
It's their whole army.

Perkins, gotothe right.
Cramley, gotothe left.

Tell the brigade
totake up their position.

Tell them towithhoId their fire
until the last possible moment.

Front wing! Κneel!


Grand sight, ain't it?

- Getting 'orrible close. When dowe fire?
- When we're toId.

Stick it, lad.

If you can't Iook at 'em coming on,
shut your eyes.

I'll nudge ya when toopen 'em.



Get your chains on.
Κaraga, tell them it's now or never.

Tell them they mustn't move an inch
until the guards reach us.

They're rallying again, sir.

- There aren't somany of them now.
- Nor of us, sir.



Lengthen range 350. We'll have
that tower down with the black flag on it.

- That's the arsenal, sir.
- Good! Then we'll blow it up.

Lengthen range 350!

- That's not a Dervish gun. That's our gun.
- They'll blow us topieces!

Wait here.

They're firing at the black flag.

We must get it down,
put something else up instead.

Anything! This'll do.

Harry. Look here!
It's the one they took from us.

- All right. I'll take it.
- All right.

They're Iowering the flag, surrendering.

Hauling up a white one.

- It isn't white, sir. It's ours.
- What?

Paper! Paper!
Κhartoum recaptured by Κitchener!

Paper! Paper!

Κhartoum recaptured! Paper!

Paper! Paper! Paper!

Come in.

- Hello, John.
- Hello, Doctor.

How are you?

Have a drink.
On the table there.

- Doyou mind if I light the gas?
- Sorry, oId man.

Meant tohave done it before you came.
No, no. Give me the matches. I'll light it.

- Have you heard the news?
- I've been listening.

Is it true? We've got Khartoum?

It's just come through. Kitchener broke
the Dervishes's army at Omdurman.

Good. Good. Splendid.

Well, that's that.
Sit down, Doctor.

- Whiskey?
- Not just now, John.

You've seen Dr. Wesley?

I've just left him.

Heine, the German specialist,
was there too.

Nice fellow, that German.
Took a Iot of trouble.

You needn't tell me the verdict, Doctor.
I quite understand.

I think it's what you expected, John.

He doesn't feel that an operation -

Neither did I.

A man gets tounderstand these things.

If there had been any sort of spark left inside
that could be fanned up again...

I'm certain
I should have felt it there.

I've known for some time
that they were...

stone dead.

Heine explained that the trouble
sometimes comes...

from a lesion
that can be repaired by operation.

- In your case -
- In my case, it's a complete blackout.

Noharm in getting the best man anyway.

- You earned your whiskey now, Doctor.
- Thanks.

Might have been a Iot worse.

If I had known from the start
it was hopeless...

I'd probably have blown my brains out.

Today it isn't half sobad.
I've been learning toread this Braille stuff.

- Yeah?
- Funny how quickly the fingers get sensitive.


"Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
sounds and sweet airs...

that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling
instruments will hum about mine ears...

and sometimes voices...

but if I then had waked after a Iong sleep...

will make me sleep again;

and then, in dreaming...

the clouds methought would open,
and show riches ready todrop upon me...

that, when I waked...

I cried tosleep again."

- Splendid.
- Marvelous, isn't it?

I knew that bit by heart anyway.

- Here - Here's toyour health, Doctor.
- Well, here's toyou, John.

ToKitchener and his bright lads
in Κhartoum.

Now, stretch out your legs
and read the news.

There's a report by Mallinson,
the war correspondent.

- "Khartoum, second September."
- Good. Good. Now, doread it.

"From the shadow of Gordon's palace,
I am proud tosend news...

of a glorious victory.

At dawn this morning,
after a wild night of storm and rain...

scouts reported that the Dervish army
was massing togive battle...

upon the hills above Kerreri."

That's where the legend said
the British would be destroyed.

Now, if the Dervish
had ignored that silly rot and fought -

- Oh, shut up and listen.
- Sorry.

"At 6:00 the Dervish army
advanced en masse...

and flung themselves with fanatical bravery
upon the British square.

Within twohours the Dervish forces
were broken and in flight.

A full report upon
the fighting at Kerreri will be sent...

when details are available...

but your correspondent, whoaccompanied
the Royal North Surrey Regiment" -

Good oId Surreys.

"...was privileged towitness the most dramatic
and astonishing scene in this inspiring day."


"During the battle, the prisoners
in the Omdurman dungeons...

overwhelmed their guards,
captured the arsenal and held it...

- until relieved by Anglo- Egyptian troops."
- Bravo!

"The achievement was led and inspired...

by twoBritish officers
of the Royal North Surrey Regiment...

captured in the fight at Gakdul Wells,
Lieutenants Burroughs and Willoughby."

Peter! Alive!

And good oId Willoughby!
Isn't that splendid!

- What's the time?
- The time? It's just on 7:00.

- We'll gotonight.
- What?

We'll be the first totell Ethne
and the oId man.

Ha! He'll be crazy
with excitement about this!

- Joe! Joe!
- Yes, sir?

Pack my bag. Send a message round to
Dr. Sutton's house tosend his bag round here.

We're going toGeneral Burroughs's.
The 8:15 from Paddington.

Oh, but I've got an important appointment
in the morning, John.

- And, Joe!
- Yes, sir?

Tell Dr. Sutton's man tocancel
all his appointments for tomorrow.

Oh, but Ethne and the general
will know before we get there.

They won't. They never get the evening papers
in that place until the morning.

We'll just walk in and break the news.

And the War Office
is certain tosend a telegram.

You've always got some confoundedly
coId-blooded reason for doing nothing.

Anyway, we'll be the first
tocongratulate them.

Don't you realize what this means?

Peter alive, and done a grand job of work
intothe bargain.

- Is there any more? Read that last bit again.
- Huh?

- "Lieutenants Burroughs and Willoughby'-
- Hmm.

"...whose release from prison
was due toan act of heroism...

described tome personally
by Lieutenant Burroughs.

A man posing as a dumb Sangali native
gained entrance tothe prison...

with means of cutting the chains
of the captives.

He suffered torture
and faced death todoso...

because in reality,
he was until recently...

an officer of their own regiment."

Lieutenant Faversham.

But why should he try torob me?

- Doctor.
- Yes, John?

There's some notepaper on my desk there.

I want you towrite a letter for me.

I'm ready, John.

ToEthne Burroughs.

Dear Ethne...

I've just had some splendid news.

I've been toa famous German eye doctor...

and my sight can be restored.

Got that?

I've got that, John.

It means a Iong course of treatment
in Germany...

and I leave tomorrow.

When I can see again,
I shall return tothe army...

with the happy memory...

of all you have done...

tohelp me through.

I'll sign it myself.

And add a postscript.


Just heard the splendid news
of Peter and Willoughby...

and Harry Faversham.

I enclose a little souvenir
of a journey through the desert...

with a dumb Sangali native.

If you'll give him the chance
that he deserves...

you'll find he's not...

as mute...

as I thought he was.

That's all.

Your bags are packed, sir.

There's just time for a bite of dinner
if you hurry.

All right, Joe.
We're not going after all.

I -

I still say the army of today
is soft compared with our day.

Soft! That's your trouble.

Still, you did your best...

and as Harry has made you twoyoung rascals
take your feathers back...

well, he'd better marry the girl
and have done with it, eh, Doc, hmm?

It's not as easy as all that.
There's my feather too.

What deed of reckless daring
are you going todo...

tomake me take back my feather?

Must I?

Deeds of reckless twaddle.

Stuff and nonsense.
Nosuch thing nowadays.

All you boys had todo
was deal with Fuzzy-Wuzzy.

But the Crimea was different.

War was war in those days.

Noroom for weaklings.

- Take Balaclava, for instance.
- Ah.

Of course, you fellows wouldn't
remember the position, but it was this -

Ah, thank you.
Thank you. Thank you.

Here were the Russians.

Guns. Guns. Guns.

On the right, the British infantry.

One moment, sir.

Your famous account of Balaclava's
not accurate, you know.

- Not -
- Not accurate, sir.

Not accurate?

No, sir.
Let me recall the position.

Out of the way, Peter.

Here are the Russians,
behind the walnuts.

Guns. Guns. Guns.

Here's the British Infantry.

The thin red line.

Here's the commander in chief.

And here are you...

at the head of the oId 68th, correct?


You were riding a horse called Caesar,
which my father soId you...

because, fine horseman though he was,
he could never hoId him himself.

Quite right. Quite right.

Then, according toyour story, you said...

"The 68th will move forward."

Quite right. Quite right.

Yes, sir.
The trouble is, you never said it.

- Ne -
- You never said it, sir.

- Never said it?
- No, sir. You never had time.

At that moment,
my father toId me, Caesar -

uh, Caesar - Caesar...

startled by a stray bullet,
took the bit between his teeth...

and dashed straight
at the Russian lines.

Away went Caesar, away went you,
away went the 68th...

away went the commander in chief,
away went everybody...

and another magnificent mistake was added
toan already magnificent record.

But nobody ever said,
"The 68th will move forward."

Unless it was the horse.

Come on, sir. Own up.

Well, well, well, well, after all these years, it's
rather difficult toremember all the details...

but... confound the boy!

I shall never be able
totell that story again!

Ethne, your feather.