East of Sudan

East of Sudan is a 1964 British adventure film directed by Nathan Juran and featuring Anthony Quayle, Sylvia Syms and Derek Fowlds.

East of Sudan
Original cinema poster
Directed byNathan H. Juran
Written byJud Kinberg
Produced byNathan Juran
Charles H. Schneer (uncredited)
StarringAnthony Quayle
Jenny Agutter
Sylvia Syms
CinematographyWilkie Cooper
Edited byErnest Hosler
Music byLaurie Johnson
Ameran Films
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 16 August 1964 (1964-08-16) (United Kingdom)
  • July 1965 (1965-07) (United States)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The storyline is spliced with various sections of African wildlife. Much of this stock footage makes no sense as it shows species and cultural activities linked to central Africa rather than the Sudan. Tribal sections also have natives speaking Swahili rather than any native Sudanese language.


In late 1884, during the height of the Mahdist insurrection in the Sudan, Mahdist forces led by several hundred Dervishes armed with broad curved swords, attack Barash, a British outpost, located 200 miles (320 km) upriver from Khartoum.

Three soldiers and a woman with a young child escape to the river and steal a small riverboat. One soldier, Major Harris, is shot as they leave and dies soon after. They debate throwing him overboard. The boat has bullet holes under the water line and they have to bail water to stay afloat. They draw ashore to bury the major.

The survivors introduce themselves: Private Richard Baker, a hardened British soldier; Murchison, a young officer; Asua, the daughter of the local Emir; and Asua's British governess, Margaret Woodville. The latter hope to reach Khartoum. Private Baker explains why they should not. They leave the boat and Baker creates a shelter for the coming storm. Margaret refuses to share it and the men need to shelter under the sail of the boat.

Over the course of the journey, the group face danger on the Nile and its banks. Facing off against nature, Arab slavers and a beleaguered African tribe the slavers prey on, they are saved by King Gondoko's son Kimrasi, who then joins them as they head for Khartoum.

Soldiers Murchison and Baker frequently clash, while Baker and Margaret fall in love.

Once past Khartoum, they find a battle between the Mahdists and the British in progress, and the men join the fight. Murchison's knowledge of the nearby Mahdist held fort enables them to blow up the arsenal and save the day. Murchison is commended for bravery by a British major, whereas Baker is arrested for desertion, but Margaret confirms her love for him.



Producer Charles Schneer made it after a series of fantasies with Ray Harryhausen. This and Siege of the Saxons were made over 15 days using stock footage. "Columbia had a lot of unused footage in their library", said the producer. "If 10 percent or less of a film made in the United Kingdom was comprised of stock footage, you received a government subsidy. I decided that would be a good commercial opportunity, so I made both pictures that way. I took the big action sequences out of Columbia's library." The action sequences of East of Sudan used stock footage from Beyond Mombassa,[1] Odongo and Safari (all 1956), and The Four Feathers (1939).[2][3]

Anthony Quayle and Sylvia Syms were signed in February 1964. It was Quayle's first film since Lawrence of Arabia,[4] and the film debut of Jenny Agutter,[3] then aged eleven. Syms and Quayle had appeared in a number of films together.[5]


The film was released in the US on a double bill with First Men in the Moon (1964), also directed by Juran.[6]

The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "shamelessly unoriginal hokum with Anthony Quayle as a poor man's Stewart Granger and Sylvia Syms as a ditto Deborah Kerr, some laboured tongue-in-cheek humour and an inordinate amount of stockpile animal footage. Nathan Juran could direct this sort of thing blindfolded and for once would appear to have done so."[7]


  1. ^ Swires, Steve (March 1990). "Merchant of the Magicks Part Three". Starlog. p. 65.
  2. ^ Crosby Day of The Sentinel Staff (26 August 1990). "High Adventure In The Sudan". Orlando Sentinel (3 STAR ed.). Orlando, Florida. p. 4.
  3. ^ a b Swires, Steve (May 1989). "Nathan Juran: The Fantasy Voyages of Jerry the Giant Killer Part Two". Starlog Magazine. No. 142. p. 58.
  4. ^ "East of Sudan". The Christian Science Monitor. 13 February 1964. p. 4.
  5. ^ Vagg, Stephen (22 February 2023). "The Surprisingly Saucy Cinema of Sylvia Syms". Filmink. Retrieved 23 February 2023.
  6. ^ "Moon Shot Successful in Feature". Los Angeles Times. 19 November 1964. p. D13.
  7. ^ "East Of Sudan". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 31, no. 360. London. 1 January 1964. p. 134.

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