Beau Geste - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Beau Geste Reviews

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September 1, 2009
Beau Geste (1939)

This Willam Wellman, Hollywood classic deserves to be a part of any man's DVD library. I know, those old movies deal with imperialism and this movie was obviously gearing the kids up for World War II, but this is a great action movie all the same.

The movie starts out in the middle with a mysterious deserted French fort, and goes back to the young Geste boys who are staying at Lady Patricia Brandon's (Heather Thatcher) house, along with Isobel Rivers (Susan Hayward). Young Beau (Donald O'Connor) grows up to be a handsome young man (Gary Cooper) and his brothers, John (Ray Milland) and Digby (Robert Preston) are hungry for adventure.

So, when a family gem comes up missing, and Beau has taken off, the other two brothers leave the house too, and join the French foreign legion. By pure luck, they meet at this one fort, defended against the desert hoards by a cruel Sergeant Markoff (Brian Donley). Although Beau hates Markhoff's sadism, he admires his desert warfare savvy. The trick is just trying to live through it.
July 28, 2009
Selfless acts of brotherly love.
July 18, 2009
A reinforcement of French Foreign Legionnaires finally arrive at the besieged Fort Zinderneuf. The day before, it was being attacked by arab tribesmen. The commander halts his troops to access the situation. Although the French tri-color flag proudly waves above the fort - everything is mysteriously quiet. Maybe everyone inside is asleep. "Let's wake 'em up in there..." says the commander and fires his pistol into the air. He is answered by rifle shots from the fort - the bullets narrowly missing the commander's horse. "I'm gonna take a closer look..." says the commander and does -riding his horse right up to the base of the fort. Wha...? Somebody just took a potshot at him and he wants to take a closer look? This is just the first of many illogical moments that just derails any enjoyment I might get out of this flick.

The film boasts a stellar cast. You have Gary Cooper (Beau Geste). You have Ray Milland (Beau's brother John Geste). You have Robert Preston (Beau's other brother Digby Geste) and a young Susan Hayward (Beau's step sister O. Yu Geste). Heh...I jest at that last one!
It's directed by one of my fave classic directors, William Wellman. The film has very good production values with some rousing battle scenes...but as I've mentioned - the twist and turns of the story just seem a bit too implausible to di-Geste. Zing.

The story is mostly done in flashback as the beginning scene above really is near the ending. We get the back story of the Geste Brothers who are part of a wealthy family and live in a lavish english estate. There is a scene here that foreshadows what will happen later - yes, I get it...but it still doesn't excuse the silly twists to come.

The head of the estate, Lady Patricia decides that she must sell a family jewel in order to pay off some debts. Before she sells the beloved jewel, Lady Pat decides to show it to her family one last time. The family gathers around the jewel - when all of a sudden the lights go out. When the light comes back on - the jewel is gone...but no one will admit to taking it. Maybe it was Beau - who decides to join the French Foreign Legion right after the incident. Maybe it was John - who joins the Foreign Legion too. Or, maybe it was Digby - who likewise joins up. Just a bunch of copycats, if ya ask me.

The brothers end up at the aforementioned Fort Zinderneuf under the command of a cruel Sgt. Markoff (Brian Donlevy). He is so cruel that the troops decide to mutiny. Sgt. Markoff gets wind of the mutinous activity and becomes even MORE cruel. Then the drama is interrupted by attacking arab tribesmen. Man, I just hate it when arab tribesmen interrupt the story like that, don't you?

4 / 10
Super Reviewer
July 17, 2009
The year 1939 was a pennicle point in cinema. 1939 brought out a lot of great films and the action-adventure spectacle "Beau Geste" is one of them.
In the best-known version of novelist Percival Christopher Wren perennial,
Gary Cooper, Ray Milliand, and Robert Preston play Beau,John,and Digby Geste,three inseparable adventurous brothers in search of adventure which one of them steals their benefactress's family jewel,it's off to the French Foreign Legion for all. A fairly deadly early flashback introduces the brothers as children-though it's the only time you'll ever see Donald O'Connor playing a younger version of Cooper. The movie really kicks into gear when the brothers enlist into the brutal stages of unjustly war. Directed by the great William A. Wellman,the supporting cast features future Oscar winners Broderick Crawford and Susan Hayward. Oscar nominee Brian Donlevy is excellent and so damn good as Sgt. Markloff that some think he should have taken the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor award for his riveting performance. Worth seeing.
Super Reviewer
July 16, 2009
one of those films i can't resist like gunga din and lives of a bengal lancer. yes i know colonialism is bad. also i had this added to flixster 2 years ago :D
July 16, 2009
I wasn't expecting much surprise from this film, but I was counting on some solid entertainment. Unfortunately it doesn't even provide the basic qualities you're entitled to expect from a Hollywood flix of the Golden Age.
The story is badly constructed, we could not care less about what happens to the characters and the blatant racism makes it painful to watch.
If you want to see Gary Cooper in a good soldering colonial film, watch The Life of a Bengal Lancer.
½ May 8, 2009
Beau Geste (1939) -- [7.0] -- Three orphans grow up together as brothers under the care of a kindly benefactor. When they're old enough, they join the Foreign Legion, but their dreams of adventure are dashed when a sinister sergeant turns their first outpost into a last stand. There are shades of "Gunga Din" here, but it's not nearly as carefree or uplifting as that movie. The final act is surprisingly dark and poignant, especially when childhood promises are fulfilled. Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, and Robert Preston give nicely restrained performances which lend authenticity to director William Wellman's depiction of war and brotherly love. As a war veteran with steel in his skull to show for it, it's great to see Wellman "keeping it real" when so many other Hollywood war stories of the time played more like recruitment films. There's also a mysterious sub-plot (what Hitchcock would call 'the McGuffin') involving a precious jewel and which brother might be in possession of it. It's a great plot device that pays off well and keeps the story moving forward. Look for "Singin' in the Rain's" Donald O'Connor as younger version of Gary Cooper's character.
½ February 9, 2009
GREAT flick! One of the all time best! Cooper, Milland, Preston and Susan Hayward are sadly ignored on facebook..which is amusing. I first saw this at around age 10-12 too. Taught me a lot about love and loyalty.
Super Reviewer
½ January 1, 2009
This one is hard to find on DVD but well worth the effort to search it out. Gary Cooper is absolutely fantastic but it's the ensemble of Albert Dekker, Brian Donlevey, Broderick Crawford and Ray Milland that makes the whole thing work. Oh, and don't forget to check out a very young and very beautiful Susan Hayward in a supporting role.
December 29, 2008
The best brotherhood book ever written and the movie was great!!
September 3, 2008
still the best version of this story
Super Reviewer
July 22, 2008
Excellent Foreign Legion adventure with a great twist at the end (copied many times since).
July 19, 2008
This version of Beau Geste is a well-done action movie (even better, thanks to Coop and Milland!) that is makes a wonderful pairing with films like Gunga Din or, another Gary Cooper film, Lives of a Bengal Lancer. Errol Flynn's not the only "classic swashbuckler" out there! I love the feeling of "fantasy" that seems to hover over the film--almost a childish quality, the tone of which is set in place with the opening scenes of the Geste children. There are some beautiful and touching moments, brilliantly acted, strung throughout the story.
July 12, 2008
Excellent old school adventure, even if the subplot involving the jewel is somewhat unclear.
June 30, 2008
It does not get much better than this.
June 14, 2008
Great film, saw it thousand times as a child, and thaks to internet now I have it.
½ May 7, 2008
Totally depressing ending.
May 5, 2008
If only you could get it in the UK
½ April 29, 2008
This is another one of my favorite films that I came across by accident, just like The Breakfast Club. I described the plot to my father and he recognized it immediately as one of his old favorites, told me the title, and we owned a copy of it within a few days. It is excellent.
April 5, 2008
My favorite film of all time. I saw it when I saw 7 years old and cried for a week about how much I missed the characters and their plight.
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