Legion Forts: Beau Ideal

Beau Ideal, released in 1931, was to be a talkie finale to the 1926 movie Beau Geste and the 1928 Beau Sabreur (a lost film that starred Gary Cooper).  However this movie was a stinker (even for back in the 30’s).  According to IMDb the movie was so bad that it lost over 350,000 dollars and nearly scuttled the 1939 Beau Geste remake for fear of another Legion flop.  They spent all that money to construct a North African town square with the Legion’s garrison fort on one end and the town’s built up area on the other.  The set was well done for the garrison scenes but the final battle took place in this town square area and not out in the desert or in the fort that one sees early in the movie.  The garrison walls were short and the the whole base looked too much like a Ramada Inn in Tucson Arizona.  Some scenes lasted for what seemed forever–particularly the opening with several disciplinaires agonizing inside a dark pit they were tossed into as punishment (punishment within punishment since the were already doing hard labor in a penal unit).  Worst of all was the acting.  It was horrible–way over done and melodramatic.  (Maybe I’m too critical, I suppose that actors were still getting used to doing movies with sound).   The plot was weird as well with the Captain striking up an odd relationship with Otis early on and then the old officer somehow gets his men lost on the march to their desert post.   There were a couple of good things.  The uniforms looked great in all scenes.  They even gave the actors the coffee brown colored uniforms to depict them as members of the military penal units. The movie had some well done Turco’s as guards at the prison and the courtroom scenes. I’ve attached some screenshots to get a feel for the movie.

Beau Ideal Screenshots

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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1 Response to Legion Forts: Beau Ideal

  1. eugene olivier says:

    Lockdown boredom. I watched a DVD of BEAU IDEAL, made in 1931 (early days of the not-so-silent screen.) It was a big flop financially and story-wise too. The producer took great liberties. Wren must have ground his teeth, but was probably quite happy walking to the bank to cash his cheque. I wonder what they did to BEAU SABREUR, a silent movie of 1928. I haven’t seen it yet. My copy had subtitles that must have been done when the dubbing process was in its infancy. Sub-titles are great for people like me with bad hearing, but….. Some translations into writing seemed to have been done with sound similarity as the only guideline often with hilarious (but annoying) results. E.g. ‘my colonel’ as ‘my kernel’, ‘Zinderneuf’ as ‘sand enough’ (most appropriate, I would think). Something appeared as ‘to the tingled Italian’ (I have no idea what was actually on the sound-track), ‘fall-in’ as ‘father’, “no water’ as ‘Noah’., When Otis has just found John Geste in the grain silo he cries, “He’s dying visible and I can’t bring him back.” (‘visible’ is meant to be ‘Isobel’. Has anyone else seen it?


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