Beau Geste (1966)
|Year Of Production||1966|
|Running Time||100:07 (Case: 83)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Douglas Heyes|
|RPI||?||Music||Hans J. Salter|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Sahara, 1906; A French Foreign Legion relief column arrives at a burning Fort Zinderneuf in the desert to find all the Legionnaire defenders dead at their posts, save one badly wounded man, and the bodies of Tuaregs spread around. The survivor is Beau Graves, called Beau Geste by his officer, in whose mind we flash back to the story of what happened.
Fleeing America after confessing to a crime he did not commit, Beau (Guy Stockwell) enlists in the French Foreign Legion in the battalion commanded by the jaded and weak Lieutenant De Ruse (Leslie Nielsen) where he comes to the notice of the sadistic Sergeant Major Dagineau (Telly Savalas), who soon has it in for Beau. Beau takes the punishments stoically and gains the admiration of the other recruits including Fouchet (Robert Wolders), Krauss (Leo Gordon), Rostov (Michael Constance) and even Boldini (David Mauro), who becomes Dagineau’s informer. Beau’s position becomes more complicated when his younger brother John (Doug McClure) follows Beau from America and also enlists, giving Dagineau something he can exploit against Beau.
The battalion is ordered to march into the desert to relieve the garrison at Fort Zinderneuf. On the way they are ambushed by Tuaregs and Lieutenant De Ruse badly wounded, so that when they arrive at the fort and relieve the garrison Sergeant Major Dagineau takes command. His savagery soon drives the soldiers to mutiny but when the Tuaregs launch heavy attacks on the fort all men are required to fight. As the attacks continue and legionnaires die the tension between Beau and Dagineau comes to a head.
Beau Geste is based on the 1924 novel of the same name by P.C. Wren. The novel was popular right from the beginning and Hollywood came calling; there was a silent version in 1926 starring Ronald Coleman which was Paramount’s biggest hit of the year, a version with Garry Cooper in 1939, this 1966 film, a satirical version in 1977 The Last Remake of Beau Geste with Marty Feldman, Ann-Margaret and Peter Ustinov and a mini-series in 1982. Universal had originally intended this 1966 version of Beau Geste to be an A list production; at one time Tony Curtis, Dean Martin and Charlton Heston were on the cast list, another time Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole and Albert Finney were linked until finally Universal decided it was going to be too expensive, settled on the cast we have and filmed in a back lot and Arizona.
The result is a B picture, but a colourful and entertaining one which, despite the fact that it was filmed in Technicolor and widescreen Techniscope, feels like a TV movie. Indeed, the screenwriter / director Douglas Heyes was better known as a screenwriter, with credits including Ice Station Zebra (1968) and TV miniseries such as North and South; his credits as director, other than Beau Geste, were mainly in TV. The cinematographer was Bud Thackery, who also worked almost exclusively in TV on series such as Tales of Wells Fargo (1957-62) or Ironside (1968-75), although he did win an Oscar, in the Special Effects category, back in 1941 for Women at War (1940). The score for Beau Geste was by Hans J. Salter; he had been nominated six times for Oscars without winning between 1943 and 1946, the first for It Started with Eve (1941), but had not been nominated since.
One gets the feeling that Beau Geste was a cut-price effort; even the screenplay dispenses with the third brother Digby, making do with only two brothers. The cast were familiar faces but not A list; Telly Savalas was best known later for Kojak and had a nice turn as Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) but it is hard to take Leslie Nielsen, better known later for his comedic performances such as in The Naked Gun films, seriously as the weak commanding officer.
If expectations for Beau Geste may not have been high, as a B picture there is a lot to enjoy. It is an old fashioned, heroic boy’s own adventure about honour, sacrifice and comradery, with good action sequences and doomed soldiers trapped inside a fort with Tuaregs, rather than Indians, circling outside.
Beau Geste is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.
This is a good print of this fifty year old Technicolor widescreen film. Colours are deep and natural, with vivid blue skies and yellow desert sands. Detail is firm with the dirt, whiskers and lines on the actors’ faces clearly seen. Blacks and shadow detail are fine, skin tones natural, brightness and contrast consistent.
I noticed no marks or artefacts.
No subtitles are provided.
Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps.
The film was originally shown with a mono audio track and the audio here gets the job done. Dialogue is clear and the effects, such as shots and battle cries, are sharp enough and quite effective. The original score by Hans J. Salter is what one would expect in a rousing adventure tale.
I only noticed a slight lip synchronisation issue at one place; otherwise it was fine. Pops and hisses were absent.
|Surround Channel Use|
No extras. The static menu offers only Play Movie / Scene Selection.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There are currently no US or UK DVD versions of Beau Geste listed on Amazon. Our Region All PAL version seems to be the only one available, other than a Spanish release.
This may not be the best version of Beau Geste going around but the widescreen photography of blue skies, yellow sands and an isolated fort looks impressive and there is a sadistic sergeant, honour, sacrifice, comradery and plentiful action. Beau Geste may be a B film but it is a very colourful, entertaining one and an enjoyable 100 minutes that will not disappoint fans.
The film is over 50 years old but looks very good, the audio is only mono but acceptable and there are no extras. Our version is, however, the only one available other than one from Spain.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|