December 4, 2011 Subject:
RKO's 1931 sound remake of the epic 1926 silent, "Beau Geste." However this version takes so many liberties with the plot of P.C. Wren's adventure novel, it turns out to be a sequel rather than a remake. Typical of many early sound films, the dialog is florid and the acting primitive, including the performance of Loretta Young. There are some fine desert visuals, and while the production values are good, they do not compare with those of the 1926 version. My favorite scene is the appearance of a femme fatale (Leni Stengel) whose dance was supposed to drive men mad with passion. (Men's madness threshold must have been a lot lower back then.)
Hokey is the word that describes most aspects of this production, and for me it's the secret of its charm. However audiences didn’t agree. "Beau Ideal" was a huge box office flop, reportedly loosing $350,000 dollars, which wasn't chump change in 1931, when a new, six-room house could be had for less than three grand.
FOOTNOTE: This print is the censored Canadian version, which is three minutes shorter than the US release.
May 14, 2011 Subject:
Good Flick and Somber Reminder
Sure, the dialogue is stilted and overly dramatic by today's "standards," but the action is eye-opening. This is as good a movie as you'll see that portrays the harsh reality of the French Foreign Legion and the hardships that it endured, as well as inflicted.
The muslim enmity, often veiled and two-faced, toward the "Christian pigs" is displayed here in all of it's maniacal fanaticism. The film might be 70+ years old, but the sentiments are as fresh as they are today, and society should take heed.