THE Four Feathers, released in 1939 on the eve of World War II, is a rousing call for men to charge into battle to regain their sexuality.
Okay, that's not what it says on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you'll see that director Zoltan Korda's film is about an emasculated man regaining his balls by going off to war in 19th-century Egypt.
That man is Harry Faversham (John Clements), who grows up in a family of career army men and has been brainwashed since young into believing that you're better of committing suicide than avoid going to war.
The film is set in 1895, when an English regiment is called into service to battle Sudanese forces.
Harry, on the surface, is eager to go with his three buddies: Capt John Durrance (Ralph Richardson), Lt Burroughs (Donald Gray) and Lt Willoughby (Jack Allen).
Harry's fiancee, Ethne Burroughs (June Duprez), loves him dearly, which pisses of Durrance, who has had his eyes on her for a long time.
Inexplicably, Harry quits the army on the eve of the regiment leaving the country. His three buddies send him three white feathers, a sign of cowardice, and this hits Harry badly. But nothing can prepare him for his fiancee also showing her contempt for his disgraceful behaviour, thus making her provide him the fourth white feather.
At this moment, he has lost everything, including his fiancee, position and prestige. He feels "limp".
To regain his honour, he embarks on a dangerous spy mission on his own accord, disguising himself as a mute local, albeit with a slight tan, and getting himself embossed with a scar on his forehead. When a local remarks that he's a brave man for getting the scar, a smile spreads across Harry's face. You can feel Harry getting a little hard on.
He then proceeds to single-handedly save the blind Durrance and then surreptitiously enters a prison and frees the two other guys.
By the end of the film, Durrance has kindly left the country and left Ethne to Harry. Harry regains his rightful position in society, including having Ethne by his side, and having the right to correct her army officer dad from embelleshing his war stories.
3 out of 5 stars