Beau Geste

Thundering drama!

Adventure Drama War
112 min     7     1939     USA


When three brothers join the Foreign Legion to escape a troubled past, they find themselves trapped under the command of a sadistic sergeant deep in the scorching Sahara. Now the brothers must fight for their lives as they plot mutiny against tyranny and defend a desert fortress against a brutal enemy.


John Chard wrote:
Wonderful, just blooming wonderful. Gary Cooper, Ray Milland and Robert Preston play three orphaned brothers who are raised at Brandon Abbas by their aunt Lady Patricia Brandon. When money troubles hit the household, attention focuses on the Blue Water Sapphire, the last remaining wealth in the Brandon estate. The sapphire disappears and is thought to have been stolen, fleeing the scandal, the brothers follow each other into the Foreign Legion, where at Fort Zinderneuf they encounter sadistic Sgt. Markoff and face a test of their respective courage, honour and loyalty. Beau Geste is a truly classic picture, directed by the highly talented William A Wellman, it combines all the elements needed to entertain across the board. Heroes and villains, battles ahoy, potential mutiny and a mystery at its heart, all combine here to flesh out a ripper of an adventure picture. The actors all perform excellently, with a special mention for Brian Donlevy as the nasty Markoff, it's a truly frightening and bully like characterisation, while a nod of approval goes to Susan Hayward appearing in one of her first pictures. The art direction from Hans Dreier & Robert Odell was rightly nominated for an Academy Award and Alfred Newman's score flows seamlessly within the films fluctuating story. So many wonderful scenes to enjoy, watching the boys (and girl) as children playing Admirals is just wonderful, and sets us up a treat for the films emotive last reel - it's a masterstroke of story telling to observe the innocence of youth surrounded by staunch loyalty. Then there are all the sequences at Fort Zinderneuf, where the boys are now men of stature, but still they have that mystery baggage in their past to carry around with them, this makes for an involving viewing experience as the tests are thrown at them. As this is 1939 the film fails to give us any insight as to why the enemy is the enemy, the Tuaregs are merely the aggressors of the piece, but to over analyse and be critical there would be churlish. For Beau Geste is something of an action adventure leading light, it is in fact, a Beautiful Gesture indeed. 9/10