East of Sudan (1964) Poster

(1964)

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5/10
cannibalising the four feathers
malcolmgsw21 July 2007
I do not recall seeing a film which derives not only background shots but most of its action from stock shots and parts of another feature,including the climax.So virtually all of the action comes from The Four Feathers(1938)This film looks as if it has been made on a shoestring.For example there are shots of charging elephants and you have the actors shooting at them from in front of a process screen.It is so clear that they have not been anywhere near the Sudan.At the climax you have Anthony Quayle on a small set on the left of frame with the main action fromThe Four Feathers either put in by a process screen or an optical printer.The acting is not up to much ,the only exception being the dependable Anthony Quayle.So all told rather a disappointment.
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6/10
A long way east of Sudan
angus-silvie9 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This film was made not east of Sudan but north of London I suspect. Pretty much all (if not all of) the action takes place on studios sets, although I have to say that some of them were quite realistic and must have taken a while to create. What were not realistic in the slightest were actors pretending to interact with the background 'stock footage' projections of wild African creatures; it reminded me of some of the early black and white monster films where big Plasticine models rampaged in the background whilst the humans in the front screamed and looked at the sky whilst running away. However, this sort of added to the enjoyment of the film because these scenes were so funny. Did the director really think the audience would be fooled and think the actors really were waving sticks 20ft in front of a herd of charging elephants? In terms of the acting, Anthony Quayle carried the film, Sylvia Sims played the 'haughty white woman in Africa' role as well as could be expected, and little Jenny Agutter with a strange haircut was one of the most attractive child actresses I have seen - I didn't realise it was her until the credits came up. Derek Fowlds didn't have a great part to play and of course every time you see him now you expect him to answer 'Yes, Minister?' whenever his character's name was called so it is a little offputting.

There were corny plot holes everywhere (eg why did Murchison seem happy for Baker to kiss Miss Woodville at the end when earlier he had professed that he loved her? How could a guard be killed by Baker just by reaching over from behind a rock and holding his head? How on earth could those Arab sailors, having traipsed for miles through the jungle after the English party, walk all round them as they crouched on the ground and not notice they were there, then just give up at that point and head back to the boat?) and contrivances just to try to string in some tension, but you could see everything coming a mile off. I felt I was the director myself at times, second-guessing how the film would continue using the cheapest option. Baker: "Shall we cross this river?". Looks a bit to the left. Cut to stock footage of crocodile sliding into a different river. Cut back to worried looking Baker: "Come on, best find another route!" Or words to that effect.

Still, despite the above, an entertaining way to spend a rainy afternoon if you have nothing better to do and like older films.
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3/10
Dated, Unimpressive, Routine Fare
gary-44412 February 2012
Judging this film forty eight years after release requires some care. In 1964 it pandered to the escapism that cinema goers still relished, echoed days of colonial glory which were rapidly fading and offered a glimpse of the exotic before foreign travel and mass television made it accessible. The core triumvirate of actors, Anthony Quayle, Sylvia Syms and Derek Fowlds are strong supported by child star Jenny Agutter.

Chaos in Sudan is not new to 21st century audiences as Quayle does battle with Dervish hordes from the 19th century. The plot is a formulaic one, Quayle as Private Baker escapes a native assault and helps the upmarket Simms to escape. This provides for chase sequences and encounters with various wild animals including snakes, rhinos and elephants – it's pretty much like walking though a zoo.

The problem is that not only is the plot formulaic and laborious, but the sets are studio ones, with excessive use of archive and stock footage (some from The Four Feathers)that require considerable suspension of disbelief. As a drama it fails. As entertainment at the time, it probably did the job. Quayle was a massive star at the time with HMS Defiant, The Guns of Navarone, and Lawrence of Arabia under his belt when he made the film, Sylvia Syms was an established love interest and has had a distinguished career which has lasted till this day, most recently as the Queen Mother in The Queen. Director Nathan Juran had a solid but unspectacular career having some success with sci-fi movies but also trying his hand at Western's and fantasy with Sinbad. There is nothing in his work on this film which is of note.
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5/10
could have been so much better
Marlburian27 January 2016
EoS has been screened several times recently on British TV and the synopsis seemed promising. It turned out to be a mix of "Ice Cold in Alex" (Anthony Quayle and Sylvia Syms escaping from a beleaguered town), "North West Frontier" (heroic Brit, governess and child escaping from a beleaguered town), "The Four Feathers" (much stock footage) and several travelogues (stock footage of various animals and native dancing).

Other reviewers here on IMDb have already commented on the amateurish mixing in of the footage of charging animals. I am resigned to the heroine in films of this vintage apparently having access to make-up and hairdressing facilities as she undergoes various privations, Miss Woodville continuing to look glamorous at the end. And Murchison's rapidly falling in love with Miss Woodville is par for the course, though usually in films such relationships develop into a three-way romance with rivalry between the two men. In EoS his passion seems to have fizzled out as quickly as it appeared.

But there were at least three risible scenes. The first was when, after Baker had rued the small stock of ammunition, Murchison fires his revolver several times in enemy country to stampede a herd of animals to delight Asua. Then he sets off the signal fire when he sees a boat on the Nile. Not even the most callow officer would be so stupid. Thirdly, when the fugitives are hiding from the slavers they are barely concealed by a few fronds of foliage; they are fully visible to the camera - and thus to the men searching for them inches away who do not notice them.

One might also think Baker very well-spoken for a private soldier who had been demoted from sergeant several times, but, as other films ("Beau Geste", "Under Two Flags") have shown, "gentleman-rankers" did exist.
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7/10
Escapist nonsense for the child in all of us
Leofwine_draca6 April 2012
A grand old slice of stiff-upper-lipped adventure, set during the glory days of the British Empire. The first thing noticeable about EAST OF SUDAN is the cheapness of its production – this is one of those films that relies heavily on stock footage and footage borrowed from other films, most notably the 1939 version of THE FOUR FEATHERS. The 'new' scenes, building a framework of narrative around these borrowed set-pieces, are clearly shot on a studio backlot at Shepperton and never have more than a few actors on screen at the same time.

As for the story – don't go looking for one, and you won't be disappointed. Burly soldier Baker (Anthony Quayle, today forgotten but then riding high on a number of successes) escapes from a city besieged by the Mahdi's forces and finds himself travelling the Nile with a disparate group of survivors. There's the lovely Sylvia Sims, playing one of those dated parts - a feisty, independent woman who nonetheless ends up a damsel in distress during key sequences and keeps having to be rescued and carried away by the men. Derek Fowlds, better known for his television work in YES, PRIME MINISTER and HEARTBEAT in later years, is fairly bland as a nondescript soldier but a youthful Jenny Agutter, swathed within an ill-fitting black wig, shows glimpses of her star presence as an orphaned child.

All of the clichés of this era are present and correct – stock footage crocodiles, rhinos, elephants, and copious back projection. None of it is remotely convincing, and nor are the climactic siege sequences set in Khartoum, where footage from THE FOUR FEATHERS pretty much takes over the film. Such moments are, however, highly amusing. EAST OF SUDAN's one saving grace is the presence of director Nathan Juran, formerly of JACK THE GIANT KILLER. Juran is one of my favourite directors – his movies were inevitably colourful romps (even the black and white ones!) and this is no exception. There's something resolutely old-fashioned and thrilling about the tough characters and survival scenarios, and if you take the dated scenes involving angry natives with a pinch of salt you might just find yourself enjoying it.
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