Heston, who was then a virtual one-man genre, is perfectly at home atop a dromedary, but despite being costumed in a spiffy new uniform for every scene, he is upstaged by Olivier. Apparently still in the makeup — if not affecting the accent — used in his recent portrayal of Othello, he delivers a borderline camp portrayal of a religious fanatic that would scarcely have been the least comic turn in Kramer’s “Mad World.”
Khartoum is... decked out in Ultra Panavision vistas that would make David Lean weep. Indeed, Deardan is clearly working in the Lean mode here, and he rises to the occasion in this respect. A thrilling set piece toward the end, involving a riverboat full of essential personnel defending itself against the Mahdi's followers, is enlivened by the crack and chug of artillery, but is just as remarkable for the fullness of the conflict Deardan captures in his framing and Fergus McDonell's editing.