Storm Over the Nile (1955) starring Anthony Steel, Laurence Harvey, James Robertson Justice, Mary Ure, Ronald Lewis, Ian Carmichael, Michael Hordern, Christopher Lee directed by Zoltan Korda, Terence Young Movie Review

Storm Over the Nile (1955)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Anthony Steel as Harry Faversham in Storm Over the Nile (1955)

Imitation Feathers

Don't be fooled by this movie being called "Storm Over the Nile" because in reality it is "The Four Feathers" a remake of the 1939 movie of the same name. In fact it is not just a remake as director Terence Young teamed up with Zoltan Korda, who directed the original, and used the exact same screenplay by R.C. Sherriff and also used some footage from the 1939 version. What that means is technically we have two identical movies with the only difference being the cast and the improvement in picture quality, which shows itself when the older footage is spliced in. In fact that is not entirely true as where as the 1939 version of "The Four Feathers" had actors who got under the skin of their characters this remake has actors who whilst solid fail to bring their characters to life and as such "Storm Over the Nile" ends up an inferior imitation but still a good movie.

With a long tradition of Faversham men fighting for their country Harry Faversham (Anthony Steel) is expected to follow suit and to keep the peace he heads off for military training. But when Harry's proud father dies he sees it as an opportunity to stop living a lie and resigns his commission. But in resigning he is not only brandished a coward by his friends in the Army but also by his fiancee Mary Burroughs (Mary Ure - Where Eagles Dare), with him receiving a box of four feathers to signal his cowardice. Realising his mistake Harry heads off to Egypt and takes on a disguise as a mute native to not only prove he isn't a coward but in doing so return the feathers.

Ian Carmichael and Laurence Harvey in Storm Over the Nile (1955)

So with "Storm Over the Nile" using the exact same screenplay as the 1939 version of "The Four Feathers" a lot of what I said about the previous movie rings true about this version. And so once again the storyline is impressive, the simplicity of a man who wanted to make amends for being called a coward is still brilliant. And whilst the acting isn't up to the standard of what we witnessed in the older version the emotion of the story, the need for Harry to make amends is just as prevalent as are the deeper romantic conflicts when it comes to Harry's friend John having feelings towards Mary, the young lady that Harry was destined to marry.

One of the ironies of "Storm Over the Nile" is that whilst it re-uses much of Korda's brilliant footage the epic nature of it seems to have gone missing. Maybe it is partly down to the differences in picture quality between the old footage and new. Or maybe it's just because you know that this is re-used footage it feels like cheating, as if someone tried to remake a movie on the cheap. Whatever reason it is the epic beauty which dominated the original just doesn't manifest itself this time around.

This of course has the knock on effect of spoiling the action side of "Storm Over the Nile" as again many of the epic battles are re-used from the 1939 version. There are a few moments of new action, or should that be re-shot action, but again they just don't feel as stunning as the original. Even the scene which sees John trying to carry on fighting despite losing his sight doesn't grab you as much as you expect.

But whilst the use of old footage definitely spoils things the performances don't help either. There is a considerable amount of talent in "Storm Over the Nile" such as James Robertson Justice, Ian Carmichael, Anthony Steel and Laurence Harvey yet it feels like every actor was over acting, almost trying to make more of the subtle humour than needed. It means that they never full become their characters and so the emotional depth, the need for redemption on the part of Harry, and the emotional conflict never really surfaces.

What this all boils down to is that "Storm Over the Nile" ends up an inferior imitation to the original "The Four Feather" and almost feels lazy because it uses the same screenplay and some of the old footage. It's by no means terrible and I am sure those who have never seen the 1939 original will be impressed but for those who have will feel like it is a pointless imitation.