The Four Feathers (1939)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Romance  |  3 August 1939 (USA)
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A British army officer who resigns his commission on the eve of his unit's embarkation to a mission against Egyptian rebels seeks to redeem his cowardice by secretly aiding his former ... See full summary »



(by), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »



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A 'coward' resigns his commission and poses as an Arab to save his former comrades.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Clements ...
Allan Jeayes ...
Jack Allen ...
Donald Gray ...
Frederick Culley ...
Clive Baxter ...
Robert Rendel ...
Archibald Batty ...
Derek Elphinstone ...
Hal Walters ...
Norman Pierce ...
Sergeant Brown
Henry Oscar ...


A British army officer who resigns his commission on the eve of his unit's embarkation to a mission against Egyptian rebels 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. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

sudan | cowardice | hero | gun | pineapple | See All (77) »


Real Adventure! Real Life in the Raw! (from re-release print ad) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 August 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Las cuatro plumas  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Alexander Korda spared no expense in this production, shooting in Technicolor and doing most of the exteriors on location in the Sudan. See more »


Ethne's hair changes after her father leaves the room and Harry has received the feathers in the mail. See more »


Dr. Harraz: Why worry? Be a coward and be happy.
Harry Faversham: I AM a coward, Doctor. If I'd been anything but a soldier I might have lived my whole life and concealed it. But to be a soldier AND a coward is to be an impostor, a menace to the men whose lives are in your hands.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: In 1885 the rebellious army of cruel dervishes enslaved and killed many thousands of defenseless natives in the Sudan, then laid siege to Khartoum. The scanty garrison's heroic commander, General Gordon appealed for help from England - but no help reached him. See more »


Version of Storm Over the Nile (1955) See more »


The British Grenadiers
Heard during the departure of the second lot of troops
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Love, honor and courage--British style!
13 May 2001 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

A British army officer is forced to redeem himself after being branded a coward by his Army buddies and the woman he loves. Improbably, he decides to go off to the war in the Sudan to rescue his fallen comrades. That is the gist of this story--but it makes a powerful, absorbing British film in excellent early Technicolor.

June Duprez is the scornful woman, pretty as a picture in the only feminine role. Uncharismatic British actor John Clements is only adequate as the man who receives the "four feathers" and must redeem himself--but Ralph Richardson has the most memorable scenes as the sun-struck soldier who loses his helmet under the blazing sun and is blinded. Many gripping scenes as the hero undertakes a long journey to the Sudan.

Handsome Alexander Korda production rightfully deserves its ranking as a screen classic of 1939, but I have to say it's not without its faults as far as the structure of the story goes.

First of all, too much time is spent on hundreds of extras in battle scenes that become repetitious after awhile and interrupt the flow of the story and what is happening with our hero. Furthermore, the actor chosen for the "stiff upper lip" role of Haversham is John Clements, and much of his performance is too stiff to come alive. A more appealing and charismatic actor from that era would have sufficed and made the story stronger. Thirdly, there's a hint of incredibility in the tale of a man who would go to such extremes to regain his honor and go on a mission in which he would be reunited with the very men who scorned him. A bit much in the realm of credibility, but it does make a good story.

Summing up: Good adventure tale in which C. Aubrey Smith has one of his most memorable character roles as a stuffy "Colonel Blimp" type of career soldier recounting his favorite war tales.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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