Storm Over the Nile is a 1955 film adaptation of the 1902 novel The Four Feathers, directed by Terence Young and Zoltan Korda.
The film not only extensively used footage of the action scenes from the 1939 film version stretched into CinemaScope, but is a shot-for-shot, almost line-for-line remake of the earlier film, which was also directed by Korda. Several pieces of music by the original composer Miklos Rozsa were also utilised.
It featured Anthony Steel, Laurence Harvey, James Robertson Justice, Mary Ure, Ian Carmichael, Michael Hordern and Christopher Lee.
The film depicts Harry Faversham, a sensitive child who is terrified by his father and his Crimean War friends relating tales of cowardice that often ended in suicide. Young Harry follows his father’s wishes of being commissioned in the Royal North Surrey Regiment. He also becomes engaged to marry the daughter of his father’s friend, General Burroughs.
A year after his father’s death, the North Surreys are given orders to deploy to the Sudan Campaign to join General Kitchener’s forces to avenge General Gordon’s death at Khartoum. Disgracefully, Harry resigns his commission on the eve of his regiment’s departure, whereupon he receives a white feather (a symbol of cowardice) from each of three of his fellow officers and his fiancée.
Unable to live as a coward, Harry contacts a sympathetic friend of his father’s, Dr Sutton, to obtain his help and contacts to join the campaign in the Sudan. Meeting Dr Sutton’s friend Dr Harraz in Egypt, Harry is disguised as a member of a tribe that had their tongues cut out for their treachery by the supporters of the Mahdi. The tribe is identified with a brand that Harry undergoes as well as dyeing his skin colour. The extreme disguise is done to disguise the fact that he cannot speak Arabic or any other native language.
In his guise as a native worker, Harry follows his old company which has been ordered to create a diversion to distract the enemy. His former comrade and romantic rival Captain Durrance loses his helmet on a reconnaissance patrol. He is unable to retrieve it or move from a position facing the sun as a result of Sudanese searching for him. The hours he was forced to look at the hot sun destroy the nerves of his eyes, making him blind.
Harry warns the company of the enemy’s night assault, but is knocked unconscious. His company is wiped out, with Harry’s former friends, the Subalterns Burroughs and Willoughby captured by the enemy and imprisoned in Omdurman. Harry plays mute with the blind Durrance to take him to British lines, then enters Omdurman to rescue his old friends.
- Anthony Steel as Harry Faversham.
- Laurence Harvey as John Durrance.
- James Robertson Justice as General Burroughs.
- Mary Ure as Mary Burroughs.
- Ronald Lewis as Peter Burroughs.
- Ian Carmichael as Willoughby.
- Jack Lambert as the Colonel.
- Raymond Francis as the Colonel’s aide.
- Geoffrey Keen as Dr. Sutton.
- Michael Hordern as General Faversham.
- Ferdy Mayne as Dr. Harraz.
- Christopher Lee as Karaga Pasha.
- John Wynn as the Sergeant.
- Avis Scott as the Sergeant’s wife.
- Roger Delgado as Native spy.
- Frank Singuineau as Native servant.
- Ben Williams as Faversham’s butler.
- Vincent Holman as Burroughs’ butler.
- Paul Streather as Harry Faversham as a boy.
- Other notable cast:
- John Laurie as the Khalifa (in a sequence taken from Korda’s 1939 version, The Four Feathers, along with some of the battle scenes).
- Sam Kydd as Joe (uncredited).
It was one of the last movies made by Alex Korda. The producer said he wanted to make films that were in colour and had big screen spectacle in order to entice audiences away from television.
Kenneth More says Alex Korda offered him a lead role in the film but he turned it down to appear in The Deep Blue Sea (1955) instead.
At one point it was going to be called None But the Brave.
Ann Miller was reportedly offered a role. It was the screen debut for Ronald Lewis who was signed to a contract by Korda after impressing on stage in Mourning Becomes Electra.
The film used locally posted British soldiers for some of the battle scenes.
Zoltan Korda reportedly complained the process of blowing up the old footage to CinemaScope “stretched the camels out until they looked like greyhounds.”
Four Feathers Films
You can find a full index and overview of The Four Feathers Films here.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Zoltan Korda and Terence Young.
- Producer(s): Zoltan Korda.
- Writer(s): R.C. Sherriff.
- Music: Benjamin Frankel.
- Cinematography: Osmaon Borradaile and Edward Scaife.
- Editor(s): Raymond Poulton.
- Production: London Films.
- Distributor(s): British Lion Films, Independent Film Distributors, and 20th Century Fox (UK).
- Release Date: 26 December 1955.
- Running Time: 107 minutes.
- Rating: 15.
- Country: UK.
- Language: English.