Clash of Loyalties

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]

Al-Mas'ala Al-Kubra
The official poster of the movie
Directed byMohamed Shukri Jameel
Produced byIraqi Film and Theater Foundation
Written byRamadan Gatea Mozan,
Lateif Jorephani and
Mohamed Shukri Jameel.
StarringOliver Reed
John Barron
James Bolam
Helen Ryan
Sami Abdul Hameed
Narrated byMichael Hordern
Music byRon Goodwin
CinematographyJack Hildyard
and Majid Kamel
Edited byBill Blunden
Distributed byIraqi Film Corporation
Release date
Running time
184 minutes
Budget$24 mil

The film was financed by Saddam Hussein, 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 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 famed 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. Armes, Roy (1987). Third World film making and the West. University of California Press. pp. 206–207. ISBN 0-520-05690-6.
  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. Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. 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
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