Location of Beau Geste Fort

Have you ever wondered if the fortress used for filming Beau Geste is still standing–out somewhere in the California desert?  Maybe not, but you still might enjoy reading a really interesting set of articles associated with the Fort Zinderneuf movie set.  I direct you to this story first…

The Forbidden Film

Mr. Thompson eventually took several trips out to the desert to look for the actual location of the fort and eventually found the exact location.  He was able to determine exactly where the gates and corners were positioned.  He teamed up recently with the SDSU’s anthropology department and together they officially registered this location “for all posterity” complete with documentation of found artifacts, GPS coordinate fixes and comprehensive mapping of the excavation site.

Mapping Fort Zinderneuf

I add my own humble basement-analysis with a simple Google Map analysis for this location that I had begun before stumbling on the Forbidden Film article.  In my snooping around on the internet I found several references to the fort being located in the Imperial Dunes near Yuma and at the end of the “old plank road”.  Mr. Thompson was kind enough to let me know that my big yellow circle is pretty close to where he actually found the fort.  (I must also note that Mr. Thompson is working on a documentary project about the French Foreign Legion in popular culture.  I can’t wait!)  Some references to this location were found in old news accounts of the filming of the first Beau Geste Movie (last two slides).  Also, according to Mr. Thompson, the 1926 movie set was burned down in the final scenes of the movie but 10 years later the same location was used again and a new fort was built for the 1937 version.  As noted in the Forbidden Film article the last time this location saw a movie camera was when the pranksters from SDSU made their Beau Geste parody.  Mr. Thompson estimates that it was torn torn down in 1940.  I can’t wait to see if the SDSU Archeology Department will publish anything from their little expedition to the Saharan desert–far, far north of Zinder.

Fort Zinderneuf Location

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About Jack Wagner

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

2 Responses to Location of Beau Geste Fort

  1. 36elalamo says:

    One correction: the 1926 Fort Zinderneuf was actually burned during production of the film. The 1939 fort was built on precisely the same spot but it was a totally different structure.

    By the way, I’m in the final stages of production on my documentary about the SDSU parody, “The Lost Remake of Beau Geste.” You can see the trailer here. Also, you can contribute to the production, if you’re so inclined.

    Frank Thompson

    Like

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