Mainwaring and Wilson are having their lunch at the British Restaurant, where the menu is fairly limited. While their have a small portion of toad in the hole, Walker has a steak. Jones comes in to say he’s off to London, it’s the 42nd annual reunion for the veterans of the Battle of Omdurman.
On parade, Frazer brings along a new recruit, George Clarke, whom he met in The Anchor pub the other night. Clarke was in the Warwickshire regiment, the same as Jones. When Jones and Clarke meet the following evening, Clarke show instant dislike for the local butcher.
After having a few drinks with Frazer, Clarke starts spreading rumours about Jones, who, meanwhile, receives two and a half feathers with letters saying he’s a coward, and shouldn’t have left his friend in the desert.
Mainwaring is determined to get to the bottom of the matter. Clarke believes it was a native who rescued him after Jones left him in the desert to die. Jones then tells his version of the story. He volunteered to go out and get help when his party were in trouble, Clarke with him, but they were captured by two dervishes. After scaring the dervishes off, Jones rescued unconscious Clarke and joined up with the relief column. When Mainwaring decides to confront Clarke, they find he’s skipped town.
Also appearing: Bill Pertwee (ARP Warden), John Cater (Private Clarke), Wendy Richards (Edith), Queenie Watts (Edna), Gilda Perry (Doreen), Linda James (Betty), Parnell McGarry (Elizabeth) and John Ash (Raymond).
Agreed - an absolutely sublime episode! I was quite surprised they got away with the 'old fakir' line - I read somewhere that the Carry On films tried similar 'close to the bone' lines but weren't aloud to use some of them.
Post by Dave Homewood on Nov 4, 2010 9:37:45 GMT 12
I had a letter from John Cater in the late 1990's, and he said he wished he could re-shoot his part then, as he really did look old by now, and thought with a bit of make up could look young again. He reckoned the show was great to work on.
Bill Pertwee revealed in his book that John Laurie was thrown from his horse and injured, but being the consumate actor he carried on and told Bill not to let on to the crew it had happened. He was a tough old boy.
It was years after I had first seen this episode and had watched it many times before I actually got to see The Four Feathers and see what it was taking off. What a great film (the 1939 version at least). The battle scenes in the episode are lifted from the film of course, as is the music from memory. But there's a lot of detail from the film in the episode, such as when Jones demonstrates the battle lines with what is on the dining table - that happens in the film too. Of course, John Laurie appeared as a mad native in both! In the film he's the Mad Mahdi, and a terrific if all but brief performance it was.
I see from 'The Complete A-Z' that several small scenes were cut from filming & from the final broadcast which involved Jones being branded a coward, these would have been just after Jones opens his mail of white feathers, also a scene at the end which reveals who sent the letter saying ' there is no place in Walmington for a coward' was cut - I presume they didn't want to dwell on Jones disappearance too much - it is a great episode & the scene in the desert reminded me a bit of Carry on Follow that Camel, they got away with Fakir....off by leaving a 2 sec gap between the words in the film which Peter Rogers said kept the censor happy, anyhow this episode is a classic....
The short scene was between Fraser & Jones where Jones reveals it was Mrs Prosser, he says 'I'd recognise her lavender scented notepaper anywhere', Fraser says 'I thought she was a friend' & Jones says 'So did I, but shes had it for kidney', they then follow the others running after Clarke & the episode ends.
Perhaps the sentiment towards those who were perceived as cowards in war situations was so strongly negative in those days that ordinary people like Mrs Prosser would have sent the letter. But I agree Katie, it makes no sense because how would Mrs Prosser have found about it?
Post by Dave Homewood on Nov 6, 2010 18:54:41 GMT 12
In the Four Feathers film and book it was of course the fellow officers/friends and his fiance' who provided the four feathers. Perhaps as Mrs Prosser was one of Jones's bits on the side, this is why she was considered?
I think Jones went missing for several days, I don't think that comes over very well, some of the other scenes cut were members of the platoon talking with friends & family about Jones disapperance, perhaps Mrs Prosser was in the pub when Clarke was talking to Fraser ?, its not made very clear, perhaps thats why the scene was cut..
Actually now that you mention that Jonboy, I can remember thinking that it wasn't entirely clear about Jones disappearing either. Gosh, it must be hard to decide which bits to edit. I'd loved to have seen the other characters talking about his disappearance though. Don't suppose those cut scenes survive?
Post by Dave Homewood on Nov 8, 2010 20:50:48 GMT 12
Molly, they very seldom ever filmed scenes that were cut form the script. They were cut in rehearsal, mainly due only to running time so the episode fitted into the slot. It would be very rare to have something filmed and then cut in editing afterwards. However that did happen in Battle of the Giants as the scenes were filmed on location in Norfolk (which were filmed long before the studio rehearsals began). When the time came to put it all together it was too long and they cut two bits form memory. There was a search on a few years ago for those filmed cut scenes but I don't think they were found.
I have to admit I have never been confused by the situation of Jones going away a few days. The epsiode clearly shows him making the decision to leave when he's in his shop, and then the next scene is later when people are wondering whyu he hasn't been on parade and then he returns and people ask where he's been. He says he had to go to London for a few days to check the archives. To me that has always fitted together fine with no confusion. But we all see things differently I guess.
A terrific episode. I loved the scenes in the British restaurant, everyone passing up the Snook pie in favour of the Toad in the Hole and Walker getting his steak from the admiring waitresses. Poor old Captain Mainwaring munching on one of Jone's mothballs thinking it's a pickle. Best of all though is Queenie Watt's beligerent show steward styled restaurant supervisor berating all and sundry: 'Ere don't you know theres a war on'! The second half with Jones & Clarke's Omdamun campain isn't quite as good but I love Arthur's bolshy Sergeant whose frequent cursing is turned into raspberries! Might have been worth a ten save for the plot confusion over who sent the letters and John Cater being rather underused.
Bizarrely, I remember watching this one when I was very young and then not seeing it again for years. I thought that they set Hodges on fire at the end of it!!! Of course, I know that's not the case now, but I must've been 7 or 8 when I first saw it. I always remember hodges face sinking behind the flames and being scared of it!