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Friday, January 17, 2014

The Four Feathers (1939) d Zoltán Korda

Jean Duprez plays the love interest in The Four Feathers, directed by Zoltan Korda. An excellent example of pre World War II English/British film making.  Korda was a Hungarian-Jewish immigrant.

Movie Review
The Four Feathers (1939)
d Zoltán Korda
Criterion Collection #583

    The point of watching all the Criterion Collection movies is to learn about the Criterion Collection itself, more than seeing all the movies.  Criterion Collection clearly obtains the rights to a group of films controlled by the same rights holder- a studio or trust of the filmmaker, and then has limited resources and will release titles from the group of films acquired over time.  Some of these acquisitions give them the right to stream the titles online and others do not.  This is clear in their releases of more recent American directors like Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, where the right to distribute the title online/streaming is held by a different rights holder.

  I mention this for The Four Feathers because it is a film from the United Kingdom, and I've noticed that many of the Criterion Collection releases from the UK are NOT available streaming, making the catalog of Hungarian/English film maker/producer Alexander Korda particularly important.  The Four Feathers is an almost breath taking early example of action adventure film making, shot in color, from 1939.  I'm hard pressed to think of an American counterpart from this early in the 20th century but it could be ignorance.

  I'm fairly certain that a casual viewer could be told that The Four Feathers was made in the late 1960s and not even question the assertion.  The story of The Four Feathers is basic English colonial empire action-adventure stuff, with a plot based on the so-called "Anglo-Sudan" war of the late 19th century. John Clements plays Harry Faversham, an English military officer who up and quits on the eve of his squad being shipped to Sudan for the upcoming war.   Shamed by his fiance, he disguises himself as an "Arab trader" and infiltrates the Sudanese rebellion, providing assistance to several of his old chums (in disguise) along the way.

   It's good old fashioned, pre-political correctness English empire fun, which means that the baddies come off as little more than one dimensional "others"; but really, when you think about it... not much has changed in Hollywood or England since when it comes to big budget action adventure pictures

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