Clash of Loyalties

Al-Mas'ala Al-Kubra

The official poster of the movie
Directed by Mohamed Shukri Jameel
Produced by Iraqi Film and Theater Foundation
Written by Ramadan Gatea Mozan,
Lateif Jorephani and
Mohamed Shukri Jameel.
Starring Oliver Reed
John Barron
James Bolam
Helen Ryan
Sami Abdul Hameed
Music by Ron Goodwin
Cinematography Jack Hildyard
and Majid Kamel
Edited by Bill Blunden
Distributed by Iraqi Film Corporation
Release dates
Running time
184 minutes
Country Iraq
Language Arabic
Budget $24 mil

Clash of Loyalties (Arabic: Al-Mas'ala Al-Kubra, aka The Great Question) is a 1983 Iraqi film focusing on the formation of Iraq out of Mesopotamia in the aftermath of the First World War.[1]

The film was financed by Saddam Hussain, filmed in Iraq (mainly at the Baghdad Film Studios in Baghdad's Mansour neighbourhood and on location at the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands, Babylon and Kut) at the height of the Iran–Iraq War and starred Oliver Reed as Gerard Leachman, Marc Sinden as Captain Dawson[2] and Helen Ryan as Gertrude Bell, with a stirring score by Ron Goodwin.[3]

Investigative journalist James Montague, writing in the July 2014 issue of Esquire magazine, claimed that Marc Sinden spied for the British Government's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) during the filming of Clash of Loyalties in Iraq, after being made "an offer he couldn’t refuse, appealing to his duty and his pride in Queen and Country." In the article Sinden admitted that it was true.[4][5]

It is known for being the last film made to use the now banned "Running W" technique, invented by the only Oscar-winning stuntman Yakima (Yak) Canutt, which was a method of bringing down a horse at the gallop by attaching a wire, anchored to the ground, to its fetlocks and so launching the rider forwards spectacularly at a designated point. It invariably killed the horse, or at best it was unrideable afterwards.[6] The British stuntman Ken Buckle (who had been trained by Yak) performed the highly-dangerous stunt three times during the huge cavalry charge sequence.[2][7]

Both Arab and English versions of the film were produced.[1][8]

Release and Reception

The film was nominated for the Golden Prize at the 13th Moscow International Film Festival in 1983.[9] It was screened at the 1984 London Film Festival, but was not otherwise shown theatrically in the United Kingdom.[10]



  1. 1 2 Armes, Roy (1987). Third World film making and the West. University of California Press. pp. 206–207. ISBN 0-520-05690-6.
  2. 1 2 "The Film Programme interview". BBC Radio 4. 2011-08-05. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
  3. "IMDB - cast credits". Retrieved 2009-02-14.
  4. "When Saddam Met Oliver Reed by James Montague". Esquire Magazine. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  6. Baxter, John O. (1974). Stunt: the story of the great movie stunt men. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-06520-5.
  7. Kent Messenger 12/10/84
  8. "The Greatest Movie Story Never Told". Esquire (July 2012, pages 126-133). 2012-07-01.
  9. "13th Moscow International Film Festival (1983)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  10. Secret History: Saddam Goes to Hollywood, Channel 4, 24 July 2016

External links

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