We gave it a B+
In these uneasy times, is it proper to applaud a rousing old-fashioned adventure yarn that simmers with imperialist nostalgia? In the case of The Four Feathers the answer is yes. This beautifully mounted epic recounts how 19th-century officer Harry Faversham (John Clements), groomed from youth for a military career, abruptly resigns his post just as his company is about to ship off to quell an uprising in the Sudan. After being given four white feathers (signifying cowardice) from three comrades and his fiancée, the ostracized Faversham vanishes to Egypt, where he disguises himself as a mute native in order to infiltrate the rebel side. Unlike the muddled 2002 remake with Heath Ledger, the original fully explains the reasons behind Faversham’s resignation and stretches out the grueling rescue of a blinded mate (the sturdy Ralph Richardson), making his redemption infinitely more stirring. And with painterly battle scenes and sweeping, dusty desert vistas that predate David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, it’s also a film of dazzling visual grandeur.