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Khartoum (1966, Charlton Heston, Laurence Olivier)

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In 1884, bible-reading, brandy guzzling, slavery-busting, misogynist soldier General Charles Gordon (Charlton Heston) is sent to the Sudan by Prime Minister Gladstone (Ralph Richardson) to save an Egyptian army that has been trapped in the city by 100,000 dervishes led by zealous Muslim, The Mahdi (Laurence Olivier).

Despite his warnings to the clownish British authorities (including Michael Horden as Lord Granville and Hugh Williams as Lord Hartington) of the political damage that The Mahdi could inflict, Gordon was sent packing with precisely one man – his aide, Col J. D. H. Stewart (Richard Johnson) to accompany him. And yet he managed to organise his Egyptian charges sufficiently to hold off The Mahdi for an astonishing 317 days before he was finally killed and Khartoum fell.

According to The Times critic, the film, ‘Not only has some of the most striking and imaginatively staged spectacle for a long time, but one of the most intelligent and absorbing screenplays…making all the participants what they were; articulate, complex characters.’

production details
UK | 134 minutes | 1966

Director: Basil Dearden, Eliot Elisofon
Script: Robert Ardrey,

cast
Charlton Heston as Gen. Charles ‘Chinese’ Gordon
Laurence Olivier as Mahdi
Richard Johnson as Colonel Stewart
Ralph Richardson as William Gladstone
Alexander Knox as Sir Evelyn Baring
Johnny Sekka as Khaleel
Nigel Green as General Wolseley
Michael Hordern as Lord Granville
Peter Arne as Major Kitchener
Hugh Williams as Lord Hartington
Zia Mohyeddin as Zobeir Pasha
Alan Tilvern as Awaan
Marne Maitland as Sheikh Osman
Ralph Michael as Sir Charles Dilke
Douglas Wilmer as Khalifa Abdullah
Edward Underdown as Colonel William Hicks

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