This richly photographed historical epic is saved from utter boredom and vacuity by its massive all-star cast and a generous budget. Heston is more impressive than usual in this colorful pageant with his authoritative portrayal of that mystical British general, Sir Charles "Chinese" Gordon,
who was killed on January 26, 1885, by fanatical Sudanese tribesmen under the leadership of a religious zealot after they overran Khartoum following a 317-day siege. Gordon, a paradoxical creature, was both realist and idealist, and Heston somehow captures his elusive enigmatic qualities.
Colonel Hicks (Edward Underdown) and the 8,000 untrained Egyptian troops under his comma...