Beau Geste has been produced with vigorous realism and spectacular sweep. Director William Wellman has focused attention on the melodramatic and vividly gruesome aspects of the story, and skimmed lightly over the episodes and motivation which highlighted Percival Christopher Wren’s original novel.
Beau employs the flashback method in unfolding the adventures of three Geste brothers in the Foreign Legion. Audience interest is gained at the start with presentation of the mystery of the desert fort with relief patrol finding the entire garrison dead and dead soldiers propped up for battle in the parapets. Confused by the weirdness of the situation, the head of the patrol pitches camp in the nearby oasis. Suddenly the fort is enveloped in flames and destroyed.
Gary Cooper is okay in the title spot. Ray Milland and Robert Preston work hard and competently to get over their respective characterizations. Trio are overshadowed, however, by the vivid Brian Donlevy as the savagely brutal sergeant of the Legion.
1939: Nominations: Best Supp. Actor (Brian Donlevy), Art Direction