The Four Feathers (1939) Movie Script

Afternoon, Parker.
Good afternoon, sir.
General Faversham
is waiting for you on the terrace.
Dr. Sutton, sir.
You've had a long journey, Doctor.
Oh, it's worth a journey
to join old comrades.
- Are they all coming?
- Same crowd.
- A year older.
- Ah.
- Sit down. Help yourself.
- Thank you.
Well, what's the news from London?
Well, haven't you heard?
Gordon's dead.
Murdered in Khartoum.
That's no news to me.
I said that was going to happen years ago
when they first sent Gordon to Egypt.
He wasn't hard enough.
They wanted someone like you
out there.
Just what I was going to say myself.
First time for a hundred years
there hasn't been a Faversham in the army...
and look at the mess they make.
I'm too old, the boy's too young.
Me own fault for not marrying sooner.
You remember the boy.
He's 15 years old today.
I'm going to let him dine with us tonight.
- Oh, good.
- I don't mind telling you, I'm worried about him.
- Oh?
- I can't understand the boy.
I send him to the best
army school in England...
spend half me time telling him
about his famous ancestors...
and what do you think?
I found him this morning
reading a poetry book!
Shelley, of all people!
So I want you to help me
lick this boy into shape and make him hard.
Gentlemen, to Crimea!
- Ah.
- Old comrades.
Old comrades!
- Arnold!
- Raglan!
Crimea, by Jove.
Ah, war was war in those days
and men were men.
No room for weaklings.
Balaclava, for instance.
Here. You fellows
remember the positions.
Now here, these nuts...
were the Russians.
Guns, guns, guns.
On the right,
the British infantry.
The thin red line.
There was the commander in chief.
And here was I...
at the head of the old 68th.
The right was impossible.
The left was blocked.
Behind us was the commander in chief.
I realized the position in a flash.
I said, "The 68th will move forward. "
Immediately one of my subalterns
came to me shaking.
Absolutely shaking!
I said, "What's wrong, Travers?"
Said, "I'm afraid to face those guns, sir. "
I said, "Would you rather face me?"
Hmph! He took one look at my face
and off he went.
Ten minutes later he was shot to pieces
at the head of his men.
As a soldier should be, eh?
I quite agree with you, General.
I can tolerate nerves before a battle,
but I can't stand cowardice.
I remember a soldier at Inkerman
when a Cossack charged down on him.
I saw a man raise his musket,
fumble with his trigger, then turn and run.
The Cossack's lance went in
at the back of his neck...
and came out in his throat.
Best thing that could have happened to him.
Do you remember Wilmington?
- Wilmington?
- Fine old service family.
Father killed at Inkerman...
grandfather blown up under Nelson
and an uncle scalped by Indians.
Oh, splendid record. Splendid.
What happened?
Well, the general ordered him
to gallop through the lines with a message.
Paralyzed with funk.
Couldn't move.
General sent his adjutant.
Killed before he'd gone 50 yards.
Sent his A.D.C.- head blown off.
Then he went through with
the message himself- lost his arm.
- Ruined his cricket.
- Oh, yes, I remember now.
He disgraced his family.
His father disowned him.
Hung about for a year or two,
then blew his brains out.
Ah, he had the courage
to blow his brains out.
Last spark of decency, that's all.
There's no place in England
for a coward.
Past 11:00.
Time you were in your bed.
No, no, no.
Sit you down, my boy. Sit you down.
It's the boy's birthday,
and we've not drunk his health!
- Go ahead, General.
- A toast to Harry!
And may he prove
the bravest of the Favershams.
- To Harry!
- Harry!
- Thank you.
- That's our boy.
- Good night, Father.
- Good night, Harry.
Good night, gentlemen.
- Fine boy.
- Yes.
You don't remember me.
I remember you though,
when you were about so long.
I was a doctor in your father's regiment
in the Crimea.
I knew your mother too, Harry.
She was my friend.
I'd like you to think of me
as your friend too.
If ever you should need me,
here's my card.
I'm not much use to anybody nowadays,
but if ever you feel the need, write to me.
Come and see me.
That's very kind of you, sir.
Thank you.
- Good night, sir.
- Good night, Harry.
Stand at ease!
Ten years ago...
General Gordon
was murdered in Khartoum...
and the British army
was withdrawn into Egypt...
without punishing the crime.
Today the Royal North Surrey Regiment...
is under orders to join
Sir Herbert Kitchener's Anglo-Egyptian army...
for the reconquest of the Sudan!
- Ooh, hello.
- Well, what's Egypt like, John?
Principally, sand, sweat and sunstroke.
- Ooh, lovely! When do we start?
- Can't say.
- Not before next Thursday.
- Heavens no.
Took them 10 years
to make up their minds.
- We'll be lucky if we start in a month.
- Splendid. Then I can give you these.
Mr. Harry Faversham,
Captain John Durrance...
and one for Fat Face Willoughby.
- Ooh, what's all this?
- An invitation to the Burroughs family bean feast.
Complete with regimental string band,
strawberry ices...
and a performing troupe of hired waiters.
Yes, my sister's coming of age.
Ethne is 21 next Thursday,
so Father is letting himself go.
- Champagne?
- Gallons!
- Oysters?
- Oysters in June? Don't be a fool.
I had 'em at my coming out.
I had the sense to be born in March.
Father's going to be terrific.
He's given four speeches already,
and he's been rehearsing them in the bathroom.
"My lords, ladies and gentlemen
and officers of my old regiment...
this is an occasion
for double rejoicing.
I am proud to announce
not only my daughter's coming of age...
but also her engagement to the son
of my old comrade in arms...
Mr. Harry Faversham
of the Royal North Surrey Regiment. "
What, him?
- Our own Harry Faversham.
- Oh, I say, this is very sudden.
They've been signaling for it
for months.
- Good luck, Harry.
- Thanks.
Good luck, Harry.
Thanks, John.
What about this Egypt business?
You can't take her with you, you know.
When the Dervishes catch a white man,
they cut his nose off...
and hang him up by the toes.
Ooh, disgusting business.
All the money falling out of your pockets.
I'll see you at dinner.
Did I frighten the poor lad?
Shouldn't be surprised.
I don't know what's come over the lad.
Can't take a joke.
Never takes a drink.
Moons about all day.
Reads poetry all night.
If that's love, give me indigestion.
Oh. Uh, time to get changed.
- So long.
- So long.
I'm sorry, John. I was a fool
to make a joke of it like that.
- I know how you feel about her.
- That's all right, Peter.
It was for her to decide.
I wish it had been you, all the same.
See you at mess.
After all, there are plenty of other girls.
For other men.
Um, uh, many years ago...
I fought in the Crimea...
beside that very gallant soldier
General Faversham...
whose death last year
was, uh, such a loss to us.
Hear! Hear!
Tonight I am proud to announce
the engagement of my daughter...
to Harry Faversham...
my dear old friend's only son.
- Good old Harry!
- Good luck, Harry!
Ten years ago,
when Harry was a boy...
I raised my glass in his honor...
with the toast, "May he prove
the bravest of all the Favershams. "
Harry Faversham...
coupled with the name
of my daughter Ethne.
- Good luck!
- Good luck, Harry.
The company is now dismissed.
The business of dancing
will now commence.
Well, Colonel, you're off
on this Egyptian affair, eh?
Of course it's only a minor campaign.
It'll do you a world of good.
The army's too soft nowadays.
- You mean not hard enough?
- Of course!
Now, the Crimea - Ah!
War was war in those days...
and men were men.
Let me tell you
what happened at Balaclava.
Uh, you remember the positions,
Doctor, don't you?
Only too well.
I was over there, on the extreme left.
Here were the Russian batteries,
behind the nuts.
Guns, guns, guns, guns.
On the right, the British infantry.
The thin red line.
I suppose they didn't
get much to eat.
- What are you talking about?
- Well, sir, you said they were so - so thin.
Bah! The line, I meant!
- Not the men.
- Oh.
Right here was the commander in chief.
And here was I...
at the head of the old 68th.
- Sorry Father had to drag Egypt into it.
- Tired of Egypt already?
We have it for breakfast and lunch...
and the honor of the regiment
for supper.
I suppose he quite understands
you're marrying me and not the regiment.
He's not quite sure about that.
Are you... quite sure?
When we are old
and creaky with rheumatism...
we shall look back
and think of this night.
Ethne, you'll never creak.
Never in your life.
We shall creak with the best of them.
And through the creaks
will come the sound of this dance music...
and the light of the moon
and the scent of the flowers.
This is a solemn occasion, Harry.
A memory is being born tonight...
a memory that shall stand
the test of all the years.
Moments like this are better
than all the memories in the world.
The memories will be the best...
because they'll be right out of reach
of uncertainty and care.
Memories just float about on their own
with no shadows upon them.
The dance music, the moon
and evening primroses. That's all.
You're not going to rob me
of my solitary dance, Ethne.
John, I'm so sorry. It's my fault.
Is this your dance going on?
- It's just started.
- Oh, dear. There's a partner waiting for me.
Excuse me.
It wasn't his fault, John.
It was mine. I talk too much.
- Shall we dance?
- It's a polka.
- Don't you like a polka?
- A bit jerky, isn't it?
Rather like saying "good-bye"
in Morse code.
- I'm sorry, John.
- There's no need to be sorry.
- It's terribly hard to explain.
- There's nothing to explain.
You don't expect a girl
to sit down and write out a catalog -
points why I love Mr. "A,"
points why I don't love Mr. "B."
It's only Mr. "B" who sits down
and puzzles out the points against him.
I never saw such an impressive list.
Reasons why Ethne Burroughs
doesn't love John Durrance.
- Reason one -
- Don't, John.
Oh, I put down
about 40 reasons altogether.
Reason 41 was,
she loves the other man.
So I crossed the rest out.
- Thank you.
- Harry's a fine fellow.
Were you to help him,
he shall have a splendid career.
- You'll enjoy helping him, won't you?
- I hope I shall be able to.
You will.
I think you'll be very happy.
And I think I shall always love you.
Oh, John, dear.
I'm so sorry.
Oh, rubbish.
I shall be all right.
You're not going to be sorry for anything tonight.
Come and dance that polka. I've just learnt it.
- Faversham.
- See what he wants, Lubbock.
He wants to see you privately, sir.
Oh, very well.
Well, Faversham?
I want you to accept this, sir.
- What is it?
- I am resigning my commission.
Resigning your commission?
- What do you mean?
- I mean just that, sir.
I don't understand you, Faversham.
I should have taken this action
months ago.
I only accepted a commission
for my father's sake...
because all his family have been soldiers.
But when he died,
my duty towards him was done.
Your duty towards him?
Have you no duty towards your country?
Oh, go lie down in a dark room, my boy.
You'll be all right in the morning.
I've made up my mind, sir.
Faversham, if you do this...
you will regret it
for the rest of your life.
I'm sorry, sir.
I've made up my mind.
You're deliberately
shirking your duty, sir!
I refuse to accept your resignation!
I am within my rights to resign, sir.
You cannot refuse.
I never thought I should live to see
a Faversham play the coward.
- May I go, sir?
- Yes.
- The officers -
- Well?
Are waiting, sir.
final orders have just arrived.
The regiment leaves on Thursday.
We march to Portsmouth
and embark at midday.
I, uh - I've just received this telegram
from General Kitchener.
"Glad to welcome your regiment
to my command. "
- Well, that's very nice of him, isn't it?
- Gentlemen.
There will be one change
in regimental orders for the 15th.
Mr. Faversham has seen fit
to send in his papers...
on the eve of his regiment
sailing for active service.
His place will be taken by Mr. Parker,
who was to have remained at the depot.
- Well done, Parker!
- Glad you're coming with us!
- Ohh!
- Look out, sir!
- Well, I must be off.
- Good-bye, John.
- Good-bye.
- Good luck to you.
- And keep an eye on young Peter for me.
- I will, sir. Both eyes.
There's a lovey dove!
What's she crying for?
Well, good-bye, Aggie.
Take care of your ma.
- Bye.
- Good-bye, lovey.
Don't take on now.
I'm all right.
The kids are going to miss you.
- Good-bye, my boy.
- Good-bye, Father.
- The dogs are going to miss you.
- Yes, sir!
# Should auld acquaintance be forgot #
# In the days of auld lang syne #
# For auld lang syne, my dear #
# For auld lang syne #
# We'll take a cup of kindness yet #
# For the days of auld lang syne ##
What's happened? Peter left last night.
Father went with him to see you all off.
They've canceled it.
You're not going after all?
They've gone.
The regiment sailed this morning.
- But I haven't gone with them.
- I don't understand.
We've discussed it so often -
the futility of this idiotic
Egyptian adventure...
the madness of it all...
the ghastly waste of time
that we can never have again.
- What have you done, Harry?
- I've resigned my commission.
I should have done it sooner.
Long ago.
It's released me
from the life of an impostor.
That's all a man is when he fails
to be true to the things he believes in.
I believe in our happiness.
I believe in the work to be done here
to save an estate that's near to ruin...
to save all those people
who've been neglected by my family...
because they preferred glory in India,
glory in China, glory in Africa.
Oh, excuse me, miss.
This package has just arrived for Mr. Faversham
addressed in your care...
and marked urgent, miss.
Thank you.
"Mr. Thomas Willoughby. "
"Mr. Peter Burroughs. "
"Captain John Durrance. "
Well, they had a fine send-off, Ethne.
I went aboard and had lunch with them
before they sailed.
Peter has a cabin
with John Durrance and Willoughby.
I'm glad the three boys
are going to be together.
- Father, I -
- Yes.
It was a wonderful sight,
the vessel steaming out into the channel...
and all those men cheering and -
May I speak to you a moment, sir?
It was cruel to send these.
Cruel, but just.
That's what you think, isn't it?
You needn't tell me, Ethne.
I can see it quite clearly in your eyes.
We agreed always
to be honest with each other, Harry...
to keep no secret from each other.
When you did this...
did you believe
that I should be proud of you?
I thought you'd understand.
We've so often talked of these things
and we've always understood each other.
I know, Harry. We've talked and we've dreamed
of things we'd do if we were free.
Some people are born free. They can do what
they like without concern for consequences.
But you were not born free, Harry,
and nor was I.
We were born into a tradition...
a code which we must obey
even if we do not believe.
And we must obey it, Harry...
because the pride and happiness of everyone
surrounding us depends upon our obedience.
I quite understand.
There should be four feathers here.
We agreed always
to be honest with each other.
Give it to me.
Come on!
Shoulder arms!
Present arms!
Shoulder arms!
- You've served here before.
- Abu Klea, sir.
Then you know what to expect.
- You too?
- I've been out here ever since, sir.
- You married?
- Yes, sir.
- Children?
- Four, sir.
When I left home.
- Harry Faversham.
- Hello, Doctor.
Why, what's happened?
I thought your regiment had gone.
Oh, yes, they've gone,
like the guards have gone tonight.
Years ago, Harry, I gave you my card.
Do you remember?
Yes, Doctor, I remember.
In case you ever needed any help.
Come along. We'll have
a quiet supper at my club.
It's just across the park.
The Naval and Military.
No, not there,
if you don't mind, Doctor.
- Let's go to my rooms.
- Very well.
You tell me you left the army...
because your duty to your home...
was greater than your duty
towards a crowd of African peasants?
Well, there's nothing
dishonorable in that, Harry.
If that's all,
if that's the whole truth...
then these feathers are an insult
to be treated with the contempt they deserve.
If that were all, I should have put them on the fire
and you would have never seen them.
But you know that it's not all.
Just as Ethne knew.
I was told a ghastly story when I was a boy,
and you were there when it was told.
An officer who failed to carry a message
because he was paralyzed with fear.
An officer disgraced
and hounded out of society...
who shot himself in a back room
off the Haymarket because his life was ruined.
That story haunted me.
Many a man is haunted by some fear.
With me it was more than fear.
My father despised me.
He believed me to be a coward.
His belief turned fear into reality.
I knew that if ever fate put me in the same position,
I should behave like that man...
and meet the same end.
I am a coward, Doctor.
If I'd been anything but a soldier, I might have
lived my whole life and concealed it.
But to be a soldier and a coward
is to be an impostor...
a menace to the men
whose lives are in your hands.
When orders came for Egypt...
I knew that fate
was closing in round me...
just as it closed round that other man.
I fought against it.
I believed in all the reasons I gave
for shirking my job.
I deceived myself.
But I didn't deceive my friends.
The men who sent me these feathers
knew me better than I knew myself.
The man who tries to cheat his fate
is more than a coward. He's a fool as well.
You're wrong there, Harry.
I never met a fool who had
the imagination to be a coward.
If I thought you were a coward, Harry...
I should take this with me...
fight you for it if necessary.
It's because I know you've no intention
of using it on yourself...
that I leave it here.
Harry, is there anything I can do?
Yes, Doctor,
there is something you can do.
I shall be leaving England tomorrow.
I shall write to you from time to time...
just to tell you that I'm alive.
If you don't hear from me for a year...
you'll know that I'm dead.
If that happens,
I should like you to go to Ethne...
and tell her that
at least I tried to put right...
the shame and humiliation
that I caused her.
Can you tell me where you're going?
- Dr. Harraz?
- Yes?
I've come from England,
from an old friend of yours - Dr. Sutton.
Dr. Sutton! I remember him.
I served with him in a hospital in India.
- How is he?
- He's well. He sends you his greeting.
What may I do for you?
I have a mission to reach the army
of General Kitchener.
I want your help
to disguise me as a native.
- You speak Arabic?
- No.
- You have some native tongue?
- No.
But the army of General Kitchener
is 400 miles away...
across country
in the hands of the enemies.
How then can a doctor help you,
except to certify you as mad?
I'm told there is a native tribe
called the Sangali...
that once revolted against the Khalifa.
And in revenge the Khalifa branded them,
cut out their tongues from their heads...
and made them outcasts.
- You know the brand?
- All men know the brand of the Sangali.
Then you understand
the reason of my visit, Doctor.
But, my dear young man,
you will miss your tongue in many ways.
I will keep my tongue.
No one will look for it if I'm branded.
I can stain your skin...
but I cannot imitate a scar
that would escape detection.
That I understand.
Is your mission then
of such importance?
May I stay in your house
until the wound is healed?
You are a brave man.
Ah, Durrance.
- Told to report, sir.
- Kitchener's been talking to me.
You know what the situation is.
The main army and provision ships
must get up the Nile.
It's the only feasible route
up country towards Omdurman.
But the river's blocked
by the Khalifa's army...
and our ships
can't get through the gorge.
Now, the Khalifa must be drawn away,
by some sort of bluff, into the desert.
Yes, sir.
Now, if one of our brigades
appeared on his flank...
he'd have to turn away and face it.
- That would leave the river unguarded.
- Yes, sir.
Now, General Kitchener can't spare
a regiment, much less a brigade...
but he can spare a company.
Number Five Company
of the Royal North Surreys.
Thank you, sir.
Number one section, by the left!
Quick march!
Number two section, by the left!
Quick march!
Number three section, by the left!
Quick march!
Number four section, by the left!
Quick march!
Left, right, left.
Who is this man?
How much did he overhear?
That was a very bad performance,
Mr. Faversham.
No true Sangali would enter a room
with the self-assurance of an Englishman.
- Why was that fellow in such a funk?
- He was terrified you might betray him.
- Oh, I see.
- But for myself I have no such fears.
But I must admit I should feel
a little more comfortable...
if you would tell me frankly why all this -
the wandering, the disguise.
In England four people
gave me a white feather apiece.
- They've got to take them back.
- Oh, a mad race, the English.
No, not so mad.
In England, the white feather
is the mark of a coward.
Ah, I see. Then why worry?
Be a coward and be happy.
No, Doctor.
I have been a coward,
and I wasn't happy.
Tell me, did he bring any news?
Yes. He says a North Surrey regiment
has left Abu Hamid.
By crossing the desert
you could pick them up at the Nile...
perhaps near the 5th Cataract.
Part of Kitchener's army
is going up the river in boats.
They will be hauled up the cataract
by native labor.
There is your chance.
- All right, Sergeant?
- All correct, sir.
We've rigged up enough scarecrows
to look like the entire blooming army!
That ought to draw them, all right.
The men can rest,
but be ready to move without delay.
The moment we're spotted we won't have time
to sit about and admire the view.
- No, sir.
- Take the men back to the camp.
- You watch from that jebel over there.
- Very good, sir.
Your watch.
No Fuzzies round here.
- I'm gonna have a word with the captain.
- Right, Sarge.
- Two men!
- Clark! On the double!
You get the rifles.
Come on. Give me a hand.
Didn't we ought to start him
back to camp at once?
His orders were to stay here till we
seen Dervishes, and we ain't seen none.
It's ice we want
to clap on the back of his neck.
Yes, and a couple of saucy nurses
to clap it on for him.
- Can you see anything?
- No.
I can't make it out.
He said he'd be back by dawn
at the latest.
Well, perhaps he's spotted a covey of Dervishes
and wants to keep an eye on them.
No. If he'd spotted any Dervishes,
he'd be back in no time.
Who's there?
Corporal Evans, sir.
How long have I been lying here?
Since this time yesterday, sir.
- What's the time now?
- About 3:00, sir.
Call Sergeant Brown
the moment it's daylight.
But - But it's light now, sir.
- It's afternoon.
- Huh?
- Call Sergeant Brown.
- Yes, sir.
- Sergeant Brown!
- What is it?
- Captain wants you.
- All right.
- Sergeant Brown here, sir.
- Come in, come in.
Glad to see you're better, sir.
No sign of Dervishes yet.
Yes. Now strike the camp immediately.
I spotted Dervish yesterday.
- There's not one moment to lose.
- Very good, sir.
Corporal Clark, call in your men!
Hughes, fetch the captain's horse!
Come on! On the double then!
All right, fall in! Fall in!
Come on, men! Fall in! Come along.
Come on then.
Ready to march off, sir!
Sergeant, come here.
Don't - Don't go away. I -
I want you to -
to help me to my horse.
Oh, very good, sir.
Flower and Bardell, strike the tent.
Put it on the mule and follow us behind.
Section at ease! Quick march!
- Take me right up to my tent.
- Very good, sir.
Glad to see you back, sir.
We were getting a little worried.
Ah, need to worry.
I spotted some Dervish yesterday.
That's why I stayed up there -
to keep watch.
They saw us, all right,
so that's half our work done.
Sergeant, give the men some food
and see they get to sleep immediately.
Very good, sir.
- Willoughby?
- Yes, sir?
- Parker?
- Yes, sir?
Put those fires out, will you.
Double the sentries round here.
There's no immediate danger, but we've
got to keep on the alert from now on.
- Yes, sir.
- Right. Put your fire out.
Oi, Bill, give us a hand
with this fire?
Simper, Curtis, Gamble,
bring your equipment round.
Good night, boys.
- Peter?
- Yes, John?
I got a touch of the sun
out there yesterday.
Hard luck, old boy.
I know what it is.
- I had sunstroke when I was a kid at school.
- Oh? H-How did it affect you?
- Well, it gave me a devil of a headache.
- Oh.
You look a bit done-in, John.
You ought to take a good rest.
Yes. Now listen, Peter.
We're not in a healthy spot here.
Things may be a good deal worse
before we're through.
I'm feeling a bit groggy.
I'm going in to rest now.
- Will you look after things for me here tonight?
- Yes, of course.
- Shall I help you in?
- No, no, no. I'll be all right in the morning.
- Seen anything?
- No, sir.
- Well, keep your eyes open.
- Very good, sir.
The mules are restless, sir.
Bad sign.
Yes, I know.
I shall be glad when the sun rises.
Yes, sir.
Bugler, alarm!
Alarm! Alarm!
Load! Present! Fire!
Load. Present. Fire!
Present. Fire!
Load. Fire!
- Peter, where are you?
- Here, John.
Are they all around us?
I can't see in this smoke.
Load. Present. Fire!
Present! Fire!
Load. Present. Fire!
- Sir.
- Yes?
- Ali has news, sir.
- Good. What does he know?
Well, the Khalifa's left the Nile
with his whole army.
Fine. That's the news we're waiting for.
Madsen, give orders to sail at once.
Now, this is grand.
We'll soon be up to Omdurman...
and Kitchener can have his battle
where he wants it.
Ah, thanks to Durrance.
He's done a magnificent job.
Is that you, Peter?
For God's sake, answer me!
Oh, is that you, Peter?
I'm blasted near mad.
I - I can't see, Peter.
It's no good pretending anymore.
I can't see. I - I'm blind.
The sun got me
out there in the mountains.
Why don't you speak?
What's the matter?
Who are you?
What, are you all dumb?
Have you never seen a blind man before?
Who the devil are you? Speak!
If you can't speak English,
speak Arabic, but speak! Speak!
Or it's true then.
They're all dead.
All my company wiped out.
Nothing but a blind man
and a dumb lunatic.
There's nothing left
but death from thirst.
Come here.
Come here.
Lean your head against
the one cool thing...
left in this blasted furnace.
You won't? All right.
Well, go to the devil alone.
Give it! Give it to me!
Give it to me!
I'll kill you! Let go.
Alarm! Alarm!
Company, stand to!
Company, fall in!
Load! Present! Fire!
Fire! Load! Present!
Fire! Fire!
Load! Present!
Give me my helmet, Sergeant, will you?
Don't you like the polka?
A bit jerky, isn't it?
Ethne, I shall love you always.
Hello, Doctor.
I'm glad to find you alone, Ethne.
- I really came here to talk to you.
- Well, Doctor?
I want to know if you've heard
from Harry Faversham.
I've heard nothing.
It was his own wish and my wish
that the break should be complete.
I've no idea where he is
or what he's doing.
I promised to give you a message when I saw him
on the night before he left England...
a year ago.
A year ago?
Then -
I don't understand, Doctor.
He left England for one purpose only.
If he succeeded, he said
that you would learn by means...
that would need no explanation.
If he failed,
then he asked me to let you know...
that at least he'd done his best.
I see.
He promised to write to me now and then
just to show that he was still alive.
If I heard nothing for a year...
then his silence would show
that he was dead.
My dear.
So that's the end.
You think I behaved brutally to him,
I did behave brutally.
I behaved like the worst kind of coward.
I failed to help him
when he was so terribly in need of help.
Nothing that you could have done
would have made him alter his decision.
I could have helped him.
If you'd gone on your knees,
you could have done nothing.
His mind was made up.
You must always remember that, Ethne...
for the sake of his memory
and for your own happiness.
Oh. Ethne!
What are you two mooching about
outside for?
Just having a dose
of your country air, General.
It'll be a dose of bronchitis
if you don't take care.
Come on in, Ethne.
Give us some sherry.
Look, there's an Arab!
He's got an officer.
- Blimey! He's trying to rob him.
- Come on. Let's get him.
Abdul, ask him what he has to say.
It is useless, Your Excellency.
He's one of the Sangali tribe.
He cannot speak.
Put him with those two horse thieves
we got yesterday...
and send him to Abu Hamid
to mend the roads.
- March him out, Sergeant.
- Sir.
The doctor, sir.
- Well, Doctor, how's Durrance?
- He'll pull through.
Splendid. He's a fine officer.
The regiment can't spare
a man like that.
He's blind.
exposure of the eyes to the sun.
I've seen it before, Colonel.
A man alone bowled over suddenly
lies there exposed.
But with rest and care, he'll get better?
With immediate attention,
there might have been a chance in a hundred.
Now there's none.
The nerves are completely destroyed.
- Good work, boy. Good work. Good work.
- Bravo!
Ha-ha! You'll have me riding to hounds
in a couple of weeks.
- Up another six inches, Joe.
- No more today.
Just one more.
Just a tiny little bit more.
Tomorrow, John.
It's time to dress for dinner.
Dress? I can dress in 10 minutes now.
Knocked two minutes off my record this morning.
There's your shaving lesson
before dinner too, sir.
Aha! Yes, my shaving lesson.
Also my lesson in making bow ties.
Lots of fun in going back
to school again, Ethne.
Joe's a great teacher.
Ought to be a professor.
Easy with a good pupil, sir.
And no more of those infernal
chopped-up meals.
I'm feeling like a lesson
in carving roast chicken tonight.
I'll see you at dinner.
Come on, Joe.
Thank you.
Brave man.
I hope I can make him very happy.
All right, Joe.
You do it for me, will you?
Look here, Ethne. I -
I've been wanting to say something to you
for a long time.
Beastly difficult to know how to put it.
Of course, it's no business of mine...
but are you sure you're right
in what you're doing?
Quite sure.
You know, a man becomes a soldier with
all the knowledge of the risks ahead of him.
If misfortune comes,
it's all part of the game.
He doesn't ask
for any pity or sympathy.
But you've got your whole life before you.
I know it's a noble, unselfish impulse...
but for 30 or 40 years -
maybe 50 years -
Father, please don't talk
about being noble.
There's nothing like that about it.
It's just -
Well, it's just that
I've made up my mind.
Yes. The Arab is a strange,
unexpected creature.
Yes, yes. Wait a minute.
You haven't heard the end yet.
Here's a solitary Arab. Heaven knows
where he comes from or how he's alive.
He packs my map,
slings my water bottle round my neck...
and never says a word
from beginning to end.
- That must have been uncanny.
- Uncanny?
It nearly drove me mad.
Yet I knew all the time
he was trying to save me.
How many days we traveled
I shall never know.
I was crazy with fever.
Must have been the best part of a week.
He gets me in a boat,
floats me down the Nile...
till he comes within sight of the camp,
and then -
Now, here's the extraordinary part.
Having done enough to win
the Victoria Cross...
he lays me down outside the camp
and calmly begins to rob me.
Nothing strange in that.
Just Eastern business mentality.
He'd done a job of work
and was taking payment.
Poor devil got less than he bargained for.
I carried no papers on active service
and no money.
Huh. He got nothing then.
He nearly got one thing -
the only thing I was carrying.
- Remember this?
- It's my letter.
Your letter.
There's a funny thing in this letter.
Ethne, read -
read the postscript you wrote.
It's still got some sand in it.
- You can keep the sand as a souvenir.
- Thank you -
- Go on. Read the postscript.
- Let me read it.
"PS: Take care not to get sunstroke. "
You always said I knew too much
to take advice.
Ethne, darling, I'm sorry.
You're trembling.
You mustn't take it like that.
It's all over now.
It might have been a lot worse.
I'd have been dead six months ago
if it hadn't been for my little Arab friend.
And what happened
to your little Arab friend?
I wish I knew.
They sent the poor devil to a convict gang.
When I came to my senses,
it was too late to find him.
He'd escaped.
I was never able to trace him.
Now for a turn in the garden.
Stay here.
I'll get my coat and fetch yours, Ethne.
Oh. My letter.
Thank you.
So Harry's alive...
or was when he paid that debt.
Oi, Peter.
Good of them to entertain us for nothing.
If I had my hands free, I'd applaud.
If I had my hands free for 10 seconds...
I'd strangle that filthy little blighter
with the monkey.
Get out, you -
Willoughby. Do I still look sane?
No. Do I?
"Don't despair. "
Perhaps our message got through.
Perhaps Durrance did get away
and sent this fellow...
to give us some hope of escape
from this hell.
Escape? I wonder.
I wonder what his plan is.
Karaga Pasha.
Tell me, which do you think would give
the better chance of escape -
the desert or the river?
How should I know?
Nobody has ever escaped from here.
But surely some attempts
must have been made to free you.
Yes, years and years ago...
but they all failed.
How long have you been here?
- Since Gordon was killed.
- Thirteen years.
- Swim?
- Yes?
See island.
Tomorrow. Boat waiting.
So, the mad musician of Omdurman
was a British spy.
What message did you give
to your British friends?
The Khalifa will reward and spare you
if you will do his bidding.
What do you know of Kitchener's army?
If you won't answer,
we'll flog you until you do.
- There you are.
- Thank heavens for that.
Well, that's the end of that.
No pork for dinner.
Poor devil. They've flogged him.
I wonder who he is.
Looks like an Arab.
Probably paid by our people to help us.
I wonder if he's got any papers on him.
Spies don't usually carry papers about.
Well, I made a nice mess of that,
didn't I?
- Faversham!
- Harry, how the devil did you get here?
- Who sent you?
- Nobody.
Then what you - what you doing here?
- For heaven's sake, explain, Harry.
- There's no time to explain now.
We're in an infernal mess,
but there's still a chance. Now listen to me.
The Khalifa has gone out
to meet Kitchener.
If he gets beaten,
he'll slit our throats in revenge.
If he wins, he'll slit 'em out of pure joy.
Right opposite the prison gates
is the arsenal of the Khalifa.
That's our one chance. Just a couple of guards
and a few storekeepers, and that's about all.
- Have you got that file?
- Yes. That file was an absolute brain wave.
We must work like blazes.
Now, is there anybody here who understands
the language of these poor devils?
Yes. That old fellow over there.
I'll go and fetch him.
Are you all right, Harry?
I'm all right, Fat Face.
Harry. This is Karaga Pasha...
once governor
of the province of Kordofan.
You speak English
and the language of these people?
I speak Arabic and Greek.
They all understand one or the other.
Then you can do a great service
to yourself and to all these people.
Will you tell them that I have brought
the means of setting them free?
Tell them that once they are freed,
on no account...
must they make a sign or a movement
until they get the word from me.
We must work very fast.
Tom, break that file in two.
Bring me the strongest man first.
- Bayonets!
- Bayonets.
They're deploying to attack, sir.
It's their whole army.
Perkins, go to the right.
Cramley, go to the left.
Tell the brigade
to take up their position.
Tell them to withhold their fire
until the last possible moment.
Front wing! Kneel!
Grand sight, ain't it?
- Getting 'orrible close. When do we fire?
- When we're told.
Stick it, lad.
If you can't look at 'em coming on,
shut your eyes.
I'll nudge ya when to open 'em.
Get your chains on.
Karaga, tell them it's now or never.
Tell them they mustn't move an inch
until the guards reach us.
They're rallying again, sir.
- There aren't so many of them now.
- Nor of us, sir.
Lengthen range 350. We'll have
that tower down with the black flag on it.
- That's the arsenal, sir.
- Good! Then we'll blow it up.
Lengthen range 350!
- That's not a Dervish gun. That's our gun.
- They'll blow us to pieces!
Wait here.
They're firing at the black flag.
We must get it down,
put something else up instead.
Anything! This'll do.
Harry. Look here!
It's the one they took from us.
- All right. I'll take it.
- All right.
They're lowering the flag, surrendering.
Hauling up a white one.
- It isn't white, sir. It's ours.
- What?
Paper! Paper!
Khartoum recaptured by Kitchener!
Paper! Paper!
Khartoum recaptured! Paper!
Paper! Paper! Paper!
Come in.
- Hello, John.
- Hello, Doctor.
How are you?
Have a drink.
On the table there.
- Do you mind if I light the gas?
- Sorry, old man.
Meant to have done it before you came.
No, no. Give me the matches. I'll light it.
- Have you heard the news?
- I've been listening.
Is it true? We've got Khartoum?
It's just come through. Kitchener broke
the Dervishes's army at Omdurman.
Good. Good. Splendid.
Well, that's that.
Sit down, Doctor.
- Whiskey?
- Not just now, John.
You've seen Dr. Wesley?
I've just left him.
Heine, the German specialist,
was there too.
Nice fellow, that German.
Took a lot of trouble.
You needn't tell me the verdict, Doctor.
I quite understand.
I think it's what you expected, John.
He doesn't feel that an operation -
Neither did I.
A man gets to understand these things.
If there had been any sort of spark left inside
that could be fanned up again...
I'm certain
I should have felt it there.
I've known for some time
that they were...
stone dead.
Heine explained that the trouble
sometimes comes...
from a lesion
that can be repaired by operation.
- In your case -
- In my case, it's a complete blackout.
No harm in getting the best man anyway.
- You earned your whiskey now, Doctor.
- Thanks.
Might have been a lot worse.
If I had known from the start
it was hopeless...
I'd probably have blown my brains out.
Today it isn't half so bad.
I've been learning to read this Braille stuff.
- Yeah?
- Funny how quickly the fingers get sensitive.
"Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
sounds and sweet airs...
that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling
instruments will hum about mine ears...
and sometimes voices...
but if I then had waked after a long sleep...
will make me sleep again;
and then, in dreaming...
the clouds methought would open,
and show riches ready to drop upon me...
that, when I waked...
I cried to sleep again. "
- Splendid.
- Marvelous, isn't it?
I knew that bit by heart anyway.
- Here - Here's to your health, Doctor.
- Well, here's to you, John.
To Kitchener and his bright lads
in Khartoum.
Now, stretch out your legs
and read the news.
There's a report by Mallinson,
the war correspondent.
- "Khartoum, second September. "
- Good. Good. Now, do read it.
"From the shadow of Gordon's palace,
I am proud to send news...
of a glorious victory.
At dawn this morning,
after a wild night of storm and rain...
scouts reported that the Dervish army
was massing to give battle...
upon the hills above Kerreri. "
That's where the legend said
the British would be destroyed.
Now, if the Dervish
had ignored that silly rot and fought -
- Oh, shut up and listen.
- Sorry.
"At 6:00 the Dervish army
advanced en masse...
and flung themselves with fanatical bravery
upon the British square.
Within two hours the Dervish forces
were broken and in flight.
A full report upon
the fighting at Kerreri will be sent...
when details are available...
but your correspondent, who accompanied
the Royal North Surrey Regiment" -
Good old Surreys.
"... was privileged to witness the most dramatic
and astonishing scene in this inspiring day. "
"During the battle, the prisoners
in the Omdurman dungeons...
overwhelmed their guards,
captured the arsenal and held it...
- until relieved by Anglo-Egyptian troops. "
- Bravo!
"The achievement was led and inspired...
by two British officers
of the Royal North Surrey Regiment...
captured in the fight at Gakdul Wells,
Lieutenants Burroughs and Willoughby. "
Peter! Alive!
And good old Willoughby!
Isn't that splendid!
- What's the time?
- The time? It's just on 7:00.
- We'll go tonight.
- What?
We'll be the first to tell Ethne
and the old man.
Ha! He'll be crazy
with excitement about this!
- Joe! Joe!
- Yes, sir?
Pack my bag. Send a message round to
Dr. Sutton's house to send his bag round here.
We're going to General Burroughs's.
The 8:15 from Paddington.
Oh, but I've got an important appointment
in the morning, John.
- And, Joe!
- Yes, sir?
Tell Dr. Sutton's man to cancel
all his appointments for tomorrow.
Oh, but Ethne and the general
will know before we get there.
They won't. They never get the evening papers
in that place until the morning.
We'll just walk in and break the news.
And the War Office
is certain to send a telegram.
You've always got some confoundedly
cold-blooded reason for doing nothing.
Anyway, we'll be the first
to congratulate them.
Don't you realize what this means?
Peter alive, and done a grand job of work
into the bargain.
- Is there any more? Read that last bit again.
- Huh?
- "Lieutenants Burroughs and Willoughby'-
- Hmm.
"... whose release from prison
was due to an act of heroism...
described to me personally
by Lieutenant Burroughs.
A man posing as a dumb Sangali native
gained entrance to the prison...
with means of cutting the chains
of the captives.
He suffered torture
and faced death to do so...
because in reality,
he was until recently...
an officer of their own regiment. "
Lieutenant Faversham.
But why should he try to rob me?
- Doctor.
- Yes, John?
There's some notepaper on my desk there.
I want you to write a letter for me.
I'm ready, John.
To Ethne Burroughs.
Dear Ethne...
I've just had some splendid news.
I've been to a famous German eye doctor...
and my sight can be restored.
Got that?
I've got that, John.
It means a long course of treatment
in Germany...
and I leave tomorrow.
When I can see again,
I shall return to the army...
with the happy memory...
of all you have done...
to help me through.
I'll sign it myself.
And add a postscript.
Just heard the splendid news
of Peter and Willoughby...
and Harry Faversham.
I enclose a little souvenir
of a journey through the desert...
with a dumb Sangali native.
If you'll give him the chance
that he deserves...
you'll find he's not...
as mute...
as I thought he was.
That's all.
Your bags are packed, sir.
There's just time for a bite of dinner
if you hurry.
All right, Joe.
We're not going after all.
I -
I still say the army of today
is soft compared with our day.
Soft! That's your trouble.
Still, you did your best...
and as Harry has made you two young rascals
take your feathers back...
well, he'd better marry the girl
and have done with it, eh, Doc, hmm?
It's not as easy as all that.
There's my feather too.
What deed of reckless daring
are you going to do...
to make me take back my feather?
Must I?
Deeds of reckless twaddle.
Stuff and nonsense.
No such thing nowadays.
All you boys had to do
was deal with Fuzzy-Wuzzy.
But the Crimea was different.
War was war in those days.
No room for weaklings.
- Take Balaclava, for instance.
- Ah.
Of course, you fellows wouldn't
remember the position, but it was this -
Ah, thank you.
Thank you. Thank you.
Here were the Russians.
Guns. Guns. Guns.
On the right, the British infantry.
One moment, sir.
Your famous account of Balaclava's
not accurate, you know.
- Not -
- Not accurate, sir.
Not accurate?
No, sir.
Let me recall the position.
Out of the way, Peter.
Here are the Russians,
behind the walnuts.
Guns. Guns. Guns.
Here's the British Infantry.
The thin red line.
Here's the commander in chief.
And here are you...
at the head of the old 68th, correct?
You were riding a horse called Caesar,
which my father sold you...
because, fine horseman though he was,
he could never hold him himself.
Quite right. Quite right.
Then, according to your story, you said...
"The 68th will move forward. "
Quite right. Quite right.
Yes, sir.
The trouble is, you never said it.
- Ne -
- You never said it, sir.
- Never said it?
- No, sir. You never had time.
At that moment,
my father told me, Caesar -
uh, Caesar - Caesar...
startled by a stray bullet,
took the bit between his teeth...
and dashed straight
at the Russian lines.
Away went Caesar, away went you,
away went the 68th...
away went the commander in chief,
away went everybody...
and another magnificent mistake was added
to an already magnificent record.
But nobody ever said,
"The 68th will move forward. "
Unless it was the horse.
Come on, sir. Own up.
Well, well, well, well, after all these years, it's
rather difficult to remember all the details...
but... confound the boy!
I shall never be able
to tell that story again!
Ethne, your feather.