Legion Forts: Beau Geste (1966)

The download below has several dozen screen shots of the Foreign Legion Fort seen in the 1966 Beau Geste movie that starred Telly Savalas as Sergeant Major Dagineau and Leslie Nielsen as Captain Ruse.  Beau Graves was played by Guy Stockwell and his brother John is depicted by Doug McClure.  Wikipedia gives a very good summary of the plot and movie particulars so I’m not going to try to reinvent the wheel.  I actually enjoyed this movie.  I’m not sure why it is so hard to come by.  I remember seeing this version on TV when I was a kid many more times than the other Beau Geste films (the 1926 version I don’t think I saw until last year and I vaguely remember watching the 1938 version).   This version has little similarity to the classic Beau Geste plots–either the book or the movies.  No diamond–just a thin-as-P.O.W. soup plot involving John taking the rap for his bosses embezzlement.  It does have a cannon of “frag” which blasts away a wave of desert raiders tricked into storming the gate (like the first movie) but that’s about it.  It also has a machine gun which I thought was interesting but of course it runs out of ammo fairly quickly.  Telly Savalas did a fine job as the villainous NCO driven over the edge by an anonymous letter threatening his life.  He takes it out on his men of course–especially the new Americans.

Now the fort I found a bit odd.  It appears as a large adobe structure with very high and thick walls with several buttresses supporting the walls and corners.  Once again, like many Legion movies we don’t get many good shots that really show the entire fort’s layout.  We also get too many shots taken from the same angles.  The crenelation on the walls is very large–the legionnaires often were seen standing on top of ammo boxes placed on top of the firing ledge just to get good firing positions.  The interior structures are built into the walls and the parapets are spacious enough for the legionnaires to practice bayonet combatives with the Tuareg warriors who are able scale their ladder over the wall.  The structure has some aspects that are interesting but I’m not entirely convinced about the set directors attempt at authenticity.  The gate is surely solid.  Also, there are two high towers on this fort as well as the corner firing points.  One is the lookout tower (the tower of death) and the other is a brick/adobe tower set toward the backside of the fort that has a very Moorish finish.  Anyway, the link is below.   Sorry about the fuzzy quality.  I bought the movie from an online Video retailer (specializing in hard to find movies) and was surprised to see the “History Channel” logo on the bottom and then quite indignant about the poor quality of the video).  I hope it is of use to someone.

Beau Geste 1966 (Fort)

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About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
This entry was posted in Legion Forts, Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Legion Forts: Beau Geste (1966)

  1. Only part of this fort was built on the location. It stood at the entrance of Buttercup Valley, just where Camp Wellman was located during the making of the 1939 “Beau Geste.” The 1926 and 1939 forts stood high on a dune, just to the southeast of and above the 1966 fort. By the way, the wreck of the airplane in the 1965 “The Flight of the Phoenix” lay almost exactly where the 1966 fort was built months later.

    On location, only the front and sides of the fort were built and only the top half of the lookout tower was finished. The fort’s interior and the bottom half of the tower were built on a soundstage at Universal Studios.

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