In the Sudan, in 1884 to 1885, Egyptian forces led by British General Charles "Chinese" Gordon (Charlton Heston) defend Khartoum against an invading Muslim Army led by a religious fanatic, Mohammed Ahmed el Mahdi (Sir Laurence Olivier).


Robert Ardrey
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlton Heston ... General Charles 'Chinese' Gordon
Laurence Olivier ... The Mahdi
Richard Johnson ... Colonel J.D.H. Stewart
Ralph Richardson ... William Gladstone
Alexander Knox ... Sir Evelyn Baring
Johnny Sekka ... Khaleel
Michael Hordern ... Lord Granville
Zia Mohyeddin ... Zobeir Pasha
Marne Maitland ... Sheikh Osman
Nigel Green ... General Wolseley
Hugh Williams ... Lord Hartington
Ralph Michael Ralph Michael ... Sir Charles Dilke
Douglas Wilmer ... Khalifa Abdullah
Edward Underdown Edward Underdown ... Colonel William Hicks
Peter Arne ... Major Kitchener


After an Egyptian Army, commanded by British officers, is destroyed in a battle in the Sudan in the 1880s, the British government is in a quandary. It does not want to commit a British military force to a foreign war, but they have a commitment to protect the Egyptians in Khartoum. They decide to ask General Charles "Chinese" Gordon (Charlton Heston), something of a folk hero in the Sudan, as he had cleared the area of the slave trade, to arrange for the evacuation. Gordon agrees, but also decides to defend the city against the forces of Mohammed Ahmed el Mahdi (Sir Laurence Olivier), "The Expected One", and tries to force the British to commit troops. Written by garykmcd

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Khartoum -- where the Nile divides, the great Cinerama adventure begins! See more »


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Did You Know?


Historian Alex von Tunzelmann criticized the film for factual inaccuracies, and for Laurence Olivier's unrealistic accent and blackface makeup. See more »


The Mahdi only wanted to kill soldiers, not the civilian population of Khartoum. See more »


Gen. Charles 'Chinese' Gordon: The Mahdi plans to lay siege to Khartoum. Take it by force. To slaughter all the Egyptians - and those Sudanese who haven't accepted him.
Col. J.D.H. Stewart: [incredulous] But... there are 35,000 people in Khartoum.
Gen. Charles 'Chinese' Gordon: Those are his purposes. And I believe him. The man is sincere. He believes utterly in the Divine necessity for what he's doing. How could I have been such a stumbling fool! I'm a man who will question anything, except my own religious convictions. The Mahdi's no different. There's vanity for you! I seem ...
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Alternate Versions

The cinema version was uncut but UK video and DVD releases were cut by 29 secs by the BBFC to edit footage of dangerous horsefalls. See more »


Edited into The Time Tunnel: Raiders from Outer Space (1967) See more »

User Reviews

Hard to believe this was filmed in 1966
8 March 2008 | by tejonmSee all my reviews

I just now saw this movie on television for the first time. Somehow I missed it in 1966. I have always been interested in "Chinese Gorden" and they seemed to do his character quite well, though somehow I thought he was a "Teatotaler"! What surprised me about the movie was the flat out way it was admitted that his government abandoned him, expected him to do the job with no support, only caring that "people in the street" didn't know what they had done. In 1966, we didn't yet know that governments did such naughty things. In those days we still believed that the government was still the "good guy". That people liked the movie in spite of that amazes me----5 or 10 years later it would have been a "given".

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Release Date:

15 June 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Khartoum See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.76 : 1
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