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Khartoum Details


After declaring a holy war to rid the Sudan of Anglo-Egyptian rule in the 1880s, the fanatical Sudanese leader Muhammad Ahmad (Laurence Olivier) massacres a British-led force of 8,000 and marches on the strategic city of Khartoum at the confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile. The British government of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone (Ralph Richardson) then sends one of its greatest generals, Charles George Gordon (Charlton Heston), to Khartoum to make peace and save the city. Gordon had previously served with distinction in the Crimea, China, India and South Africa. Most important, he had also served as governor of the Sudan in the late 1870s at the request of the khedive of Egypt, instituting administrative reforms, reducing the slave trade and bolstering the economy. However, before Gordon reaches Khartoum with his aide, many of his former Sudanese friends defect to the Mahdi. Nevertheless, Gordon receives a rousing reception when he arrives in the city in February 1884. Heartened, he meets in the desert with the Mahdi to try to forge a peace agreement, but the Arab leader tells Gordon he is bent on taking Khartoum. What's more, he means to conquer other cities -- Cairo, Mecca, Baghdad and Constantinople -- to establish a vast empire under his leadership. Convinced that more war is inevitable, Gordon and the loyal Egyptian troops under his command prepare for battle. Meanwhile, in London, the Gladstone government is reluctant to dispatch troops to support the outnumbered Khartoum forces because colonial meddling has become bad politics. To forestall disaster, Gordon diverts the Nile to create a moat around Khartoum and leads a foray in which he steals cattle from the Mahdi's herd to supply the besieged city with food. But when the Nile recedes, the stage is set for the final battle that will decide the fate of Khartoum. ~ Mike Cummings, Rovi

  • Release date:May 15, 1966


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Robert Ardrey Best Original Screenplay 1966 Nominee


Charlton Heston
as Gen. Charles Gordon
Laurence Olivier
as The Mahdi
Richard Johnson
as Col. J.D.H. Stewart
Ralph Richardson
as Mr. Gladstone
Alexander Knox
as Sir Evelyn Baring
Johnny Sekka
as Khaleel
Michael Hordern
as Lord Granville
Zia Mohyeddin
as Zobeir Pasha
Marne Maitland
as Sheikh Osman
Nigel Green
as Gen. Wolseley
Douglas Wilmer
as Khalifa Abdullah
Edward Underdown
as Col. Hicks
Alec Mango
as Bordeini Bey
George Pastell
as Giriagis Bey
Alan Tilvern
as Awaan
Jerome Willis
as Frank Power
Ralph Michael
as Sir Charles Dilke
Leo Genn
as Narrator
Richard Jordan
Ronald Leigh-Hunt
as Lord Northbrook
Hugh Williams
as Lord Hartington
Ronald Leigh-Hunt
as Lord Northbrook
Leo Genn
as Narrator


Basil Dearden
Julian Blaustein
Robert Ardrey
Edward Scaife
Harry Waxman
Frank Cordell
Musical Direction/Supervision
Frank Cordell
Composer (Music Score)
Fergus McDonell
John Bodimeade
Set Designer
Pamela Cornell
Set Designer
John McCorry
Costume Designer
Richard Parker
Special Effects