George Bryan Brummel, a British military officer, loves Lady Margery, the betrothed of Lord Alvanley. Despite her own desperate love for Brummel, she submits to family pressure and marries ... See full summary »
George Bryan Brummel, a British military officer, loves Lady Margery, the betrothed of Lord Alvanley. Despite her own desperate love for Brummel, she submits to family pressure and marries Lord Alvanley. Brummel, broken-hearted, embarks upon a life of revelry. He befriends the Prince of Wales and leaves the army, becoming subsequently the best-known rake and decider of fashion in Europe. As his affairs flourish, so does his disdain for his benefactor, the Prince. Eventually Brummel falls into disfavor, and it is only Lady Margery who has any chance of helping him. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In presenting the story of Beau Brummel, Warner Brothers did an infinitely better job than MGM in the Fifties in that film that starred Stewart Granger, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Ustinov. Though this is a silent film and sadly silent because we don't get the benefit of John Barrymore's magnificent speaking voice, still the essence of Brummel as a Regency social climber comes through.
That was the problem with the Granger/Taylor version. It presented a Brummel who tried to interfere in the political issues of the day. The real Beau could have cared less for what was going on in Parliament with Pitt and Fox going at each other. That's the Beau that Barrymore gives us in this version.
Barrymore also succeeds in making Beau a more real person. This is a very hard character to bring to life because Brummel didn't really accomplish anything. He was a soldier who resigned his commission in the army to pal around with the Prince Regent. He didn't stand for anything, create anything, espouse a popular cause. He got involved in a couple of Regency Scandals and eventually the Prince of Wales got bored with him.
We don't like the Brummel that Barrymore creates, but we do get some insights into a man who did let some real chances in life slip by.
Mary Astor and Irene Rich and Carmel Myers play a trio of the women in his life. Willard Louis perfectly recreates my own conception of what the weight challenged Prince of Wales who later become George IV was like. Not easy to do because even in the Granger/Taylor version of the story, Peter Ustinov easily walked off with acting honors. There's also a nice performance by Alec Francis as Barrymore's devoted valet.
The end of the film with the dying Brummel going through dementia is silent screen acting at its finest and some of the best work I've seen John Barrymore do. Try to catch this film when broadcast next.
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