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Khartoum (1966)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 15 June 1966 (USA)
In the Sudan, in 1884 to 1885, Egyptian forces led by a British General defend Khartoum against an invading Muslim Army led by a religious fanatic, the Mahdi.

Writer:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlton Heston ... Gen. Charles 'Chinese' Gordon
Laurence Olivier ... The Mahdi
Richard Johnson ... Col. 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 ... Gen. Wolseley
Hugh Williams ... Lord Hartington
Ralph Michael Ralph Michael ... Sir Charles Dilke
Douglas Wilmer ... Khalifa Abdullah
Edward Underdown Edward Underdown ... Col. William Hicks
Peter Arne ... Maj. Kitchener
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Storyline

After an Egyptian Army, commanded by British officers, is destroyed in a battle in the Sudan in the 1880's, 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, 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 the Mahdi, the expected one, and tries to force the British to commit troops. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 June 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kartum See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.76 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is analyzed by David Levering Lewis in the 1995 book "Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies," edited by Mark C. Carnes. The article notes that producer Julian Blaustein sent a copy of the script to the real-life Mahdi's grandson, who responded that although his grandfather and Gen. Charles Gordon never actually met, "...it's a very fine script." When Blaustein apologized for this error, the grandson replied, "Ah, but Mr. Blaustein, they should have!" See more »

Goofs

Gordon has a friend in Khartoum executed for stealing grain. The man is killed by firing squad. In spite of being shot by a number of riflemen, his white clothing show absolutely no sign of injury. See more »

Quotes

The Mahdi: [in horror: seeing Gordon's decapitated head on the end of a pole] Take it away! Where is Abdullah? I forbade it, I forbade it!
See more »

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Great Performances: Laurence Olivier: A Life (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An epic entertainment!
23 July 2000 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

Heston essays one of his best roles as Charles "Chinese" Gordon, the patriot who thrives on challenge... Gordon becomes a national hero for his exploits in China and his ill-fated defense of Khartoum...

Gordon is a Christian with the Bible constantly under his arm... A national hero who abolished slavery in China... An honest man revered by the British, as well as by the foreigners... A martyr-warrior who ever truly loves the Sudan and cannot, under 'his' God, leave it to the misery and the sickness of which he once cured it...

Gladstone ((Ralph Richardson) decides not to send troops to the trouble area... Instead he will send General Gordon... Gladstone realizes if Gordon is sent to Khartoum and fails to prevent a massacre, it is he who will be blamed; not the Briish government... For heroes are supposed to perform miracles...

En route to Khartoum, Gordon discovers that most of Britain's allies and friends of his former exploits now support the mystic Mahdi... But when Gordon with Col. Stewart (Richard Johnson) finally reach Khartoum, the people give him a warm welcome... They feel their problems must soon be over now that Gordon Pasha has arrived...

Things, however, do not go as planned... Khartoum runs out of food... The Mahdi's men infiltrate the city... And Gordon seek a plan...

Lawrence Olivier is superb as the fanatical Arab leader, Muhammed Ahmed Al Mahdi, the Expected-One... His softly glowing black eyes never blink... His measured voice spreads holy terrors: "I have been instructed by the Lord Mohammed, Peace be upon Him, to worship in the Khartoum mosque. Therefore I must take Khartoum by the sword."

With outstanding color photography, exquisite sets and costumes, "Khartoum" has great moments:

  • The bloody and brutal massacre of an entire army in a burning desert...


  • The Gordon/Mahdi meeting... The only non-historic element of the film which, in fact, never took place - contributes enormously to the dramatic effect of the motion picture.


  • The raid on the Mahdi's own supplies...


  • The exodus of all foreigners and Europeans out of the city...


With an Oscar-Nominated script mounted on a grand scale, "Khartoum" is an epic entertainment, a fine and powerful motion picture...

The exploits, the single-handed capacity Gordon Pasha displayed again and again to control large groups of people quite unarmed and alone, is almost magical; quite scary, in fact...


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