7.8/10
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51 user 19 critic

Beau Geste (1939)

Three adopted English brothers join the French Foreign Legion in North Africa, after one of them steals their adoptive family's famous heirloom sapphire.

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writers:

Robert Carson (screen play), Percival Christopher Wren (based on the novel by)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Cooper ... Beau Geste
Ray Milland ... John Geste
Robert Preston ... Digby Geste
Brian Donlevy ... Sergeant Markoff
Susan Hayward ... Isobel Rivers
J. Carrol Naish ... Rasinoff
Albert Dekker ... Schwartz
Broderick Crawford ... Hank Miller
Charles Barton ... Buddy McMonigal
James Stephenson ... Major Henri de Beaujolais
Heather Thatcher ... Lady Patricia Brandon
James Burke ... Lieutenant Dufour
G.P. Huntley G.P. Huntley ... Augustus Brandon (as George P. Huntley)
Harold Huber ... Voisin
Donald O'Connor ... Beau Geste (as a child)
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Storyline

Beau, John, and Digby Geste are three inseparable, adventurous brothers who haven been adopted into the wealthy household of Lady Brandon. When money in the uppercrust household grows tight, Lady Brandon is forced to sell her most treasured jewel the mighty "Blue Water" sapphire. The household gets it out for one final look, the lights go out and it vanishes stolen by one of the brothers, no doubt. That night, Beau, Digby, and John each "confess" and slip out, John leaving behind Isabel, whom he loves. They all join the Foreign Legion, and Beau and Digby are split from John and put under the command of the ruthless and sadistic Sergeant Markoff. Things begin to get hairy as the rest of the Legionaires plot a mutiny against Markoff, in the midst of an attack by Arab hordes. Written by Sam Hayes <gshayes@mail.gwi.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Three against the world...brothers and soldiers all! See more »

Genres:

Action | Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Arabic

Release Date:

24 July 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Drei Fremdenlegionäre See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Features Brian Donlevy's only Oscar nominated performance. See more »

Goofs

After Markoff puts the first corpse back on the wall to give the illusion that there are many legionnaires on the wall, it is clear that the "corpse" is still breathing. See more »

Quotes

Foreword: "The love of a man for a woman waxes and wanes like the moon, but the love of brother for brother is steadfast as the stars and endures like the word of the prophet." Arabian proverb
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: "The love of a man for a woman wanes and waxes like the moon . . . but the love of brother for brother is steadfast as the stars, and endures like the word of the prophet."

. . . Arabian Proverb. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

The Legionnaire's Song
(uncredited)
Music by Troy Sanders
Lyrics by Frank Loesser
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Gallantly they lived and died
2 March 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The three Geste brothers, wards of their Aunt Patricia, go off to the Foreign Legion because they are suspected of stealing a family jewel, the Blue Water sapphire. It's a question of family honor and pride back in the day when this was thought to be a real virtue.

Beau Geste continues as a story about the Geste brothers in the Foreign Legion. Since they are all adopted wards with no clue as their real origins, that might account for the distinctly non-British speech of Gary Cooper as Beau and Robert Preston as Digby. Ray Milland as the youngest brother John was presumably influenced by British speech at a young enough age.

Though the three brother leads perform more than adequately, Beau Geste is truly a film where the character actors take over. Brian Donlevy was given his one and only Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor as the sadistic Sergeant Markov. You won't forget him, I promise you.

Three others that also stand out are Albert Dekker who leads a mutiny against Markov at the distant outpost of Fort Zinderneuf and Stanley Andrews as Maris who tries to prevent the mutiny. And last but certainly not least is J. Carrol Naish who is Rassinov the eyes and ears of Markov among the men. Naish was an amazingly versatile character actor who played just about every ethnic type you could name. He blended into his characters so well he almost has no identity of his own on screen. And that hyenish high-pitched cackle that he uses for Rassinov will linger with you forever.

Susan Hayward is in this also as the love interest for Ray Milland. She's young and pretty wasted in a thankless role in a male dominated film. No hint at all here of the characters she later portrayed like Lillian Roth or Barbara Graham.

Beau Geste is the kind of adventure story for those who like their heroes gallant and romantic as so many of us do.


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