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Beau Geste (Universal Backlot Series) (1939)

Gary Cooper , Ray Milland , William A. Wellman  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

List Price: $19.98
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Beau Geste (Universal Backlot Series) + Gunga Din + Four Feathers (Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston, Brian Donlevy, Susan Hayward
  • Directors: William A. Wellman
  • Writers: Robert Carson
  • Producers: William A. Wellman
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: July 7, 2009
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0024FADBU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,676 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Beau Geste (Universal Backlot Series)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Academy Award winners Gary Cooper and Ray Milland star along with Robert Preston in the epic adventure Beau Geste. When three brothers join the Foreign Legion to escape a troubled past, they find themselves trapped under the command of a sadistic sergeant deep in the scorching Sahara. Now the brothers must fight for their lives as they plot mutiny against tyranny and defend a desert fortress against a brutal enemy. Nominated for 2 Academy Awards, Beau Geste has been universally acclaimed by generations of critics and audiences alike as a true motion picture classic.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best foreign legion film ever made June 18, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
"Beau Geste" is a magnificent adventure story for any age group and the 1939 version, Mr. Maltin's opinion not withstanding, is probably the best version of this tale I have ever seen. The cast is top-notch and the action never wavers. This is a film that I grew up with and it is one that can withstand the years. Above all, it is so much better than the 1966 version--please see this incredible film!
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Geste (forget the reste!) May 3, 2009
Since 1926, there have been three Beau Geste films, plus one TV miniseries and a Marty Feldman spoof called THE LAST REMAKE OF BEAU GESTE (1977). It's not as amusing as the latter, yet the 1939 PARAMOUNT edition of "Beau" is far and away the finest of the lot.

William Wellman's picture (loosely based on the 1924 P.C. Wren novel) is in part a who-dun-it but primarily an adventure yarn. The story begins with all the men stationed at a desert fort lying dead from combat. A letter confessing to a crime is found on the body of one of them.

Flashback to Michael ("Beau") and his brothers as children (Beau is portrayed by 12-year-old Donald O'Connor). The three orphaned Gestes and Isabel Rivers were adopted when very young by the boys' aunt, Lady Patricia Brandon. They all live at Brandon Abbas with Aunt Pat and her son Augustus.

In raising the four adoptees, Aunt Pat exhausts her estate's finances. To pay debts she determines to sell a family heirloom, the Blue Water sapphire but first Pat shows it to all for the last time. The lights suddenly go out and when they're restored, it's discovered that Lady Brandon's precious gem has vanished. Suspicion falls on the three Gestes, so the young men join the French Foreign Legion to escape accusations or embarrassment.

The Saharan portion of this film is the lion's share. We meet several members of the Gestes' outpost. Later attacks by Arabs make it clear that their fort is doomed-- the only question is when all will die. The Legionnaires' valiant struggle against daunting odds is one you won't soon forget. A great cast, story and cinematography make this Beau Geste a genuine classic, and one of the best films of that superlative year of 1939.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic melodrama January 28, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Beau Geste, a melodramatic 1939 period piece depicts the comradery of three brothers during Victorian times. It falls short of a 5 star rating as it lacks the high degree of drama seen in similar type classics such as Gunga Din and Four Feathers.
The wholesome Gary Cooper along with Robert Preston and Ray Milland play three brothers, Beau, Digby and John Geste, adopted into the affluent baronial lifestyle of English Lord and Lady Brandon. When the lord threatens to sell the family's most precious possession, the Blue Water, a huge cerulean sapphire, to finance his gambling, one of the brothers absconds with it. In a chivalrous gesture the three brothers flee and enlist in the French Foreign Legion and get shipped to North Africa.
While in the foreign legion they are cruelly commanded by star of the movie Brian Donlevy, who plays the facially scarred, sadistic heavy Sergeant Markoff. The brothers strive to survive the elements, the Arabs and Markoff while they protect the secret of the prized sapphire.
The flick is hopelessly dated but still remains hugely entertaining to a classic movie buff. A youthful and ravishing Susan Hayward plays Milland's love interest, Isobel Rivers, a ward of Lady Brandon in one of her earliest starring roles.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Absolutely the definitive film version of the book by the same name. When their parents die the 3 Geste boys (Beau, Digby, & John) are adopted by a wealthy family. When a valuable diamond disappears the boys join the Foreign Legion and fight the Arabs in North Africa. Part mystery, part action adventure/war movie this movie is well worth viewing. Very good performances by Gary Cooper (Beau), Robert Preston (Digby), Ray Milland (John), and Brian Donlevy (Markoff the Sgt.). Good supporting cast....LOTS of action and suspense.....5 STAR CLASSIC...!!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Foreign Legion/Sadistic Sergeant flic ever! May 26, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I first saw this movie as a child in the early 60's, on a Saturday matinee TV show while my kid brother and I were chowing down on my mom's home made donuts. It ranks right up there with every Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, and Bogie movie ever. If you love classic war movies, or even classic movies in general, it can't get any better than this. Four thumbs up! (I'm voting for my brother too.)
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! September 19, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the best adventure movies I've ever seen. The characters are interesting and the story is terrific, with some surprising twists. Recent-day movies are pathetic in comparison with this one.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wren Classic on Film October 11, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This classic movie holds up pretty well to the basic storyline of Wren's novel. A few subtle changes have been made because no movie can ever reproduce a book perfectly, but everything has been done faithfully to the spirit of the original story. Readers of the book will find that the evil sarjeant is named Markov in the movie as opposed to Lajeaune in the book. The name sounds more evil perhaps! A few minor quibbles I have with the movie is that it has that 1930s Hollywood feel to it, in terms of the acting and characterizations. It would have been nice to have heard French commands in the Legion as opposed to flat American voices. Later Foreign Legion movies like "March or Die" provide this kind of detail which this classic lacks. Also, in the attacks on the fort the Arabs look foolish charging with cavalry against walls that are too high. In the book the fort's walls are described as being lower so that someone climbing up from a camel's back could almost succeed with an escalade. In the book John, Digby and their two American friends wander in the desert in Arab guise for several years. This is rather condensed in the film. The impossible shot that kills Digby from horse-back is more realistically described in the book where John relays that the Arab fired from his horse at 30 feet striking Digby as he played his bugle. A more realistic scenerio I find. Of course these are minor quibbles, none of which detract from the beauty and haunting nature of the movie. The music is also striking, in particular the opening scene when we see the dead Legioners manning the fort's walls. That scene is probably one of the most haunting in all movies, and conveys so much without being overly graphic. This is probably the best Foreign Legion movie that will ever be made. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars THE definitive French Foreign Legion film!
Great adventure classic! They don't make them like this anymore. Brian Donlevy is outstanding as the sadistic Foreign Legion Sargeant Markov. Good Viking funeral scene.
Published 1 month ago by Stephen Thompson
3.0 out of 5 stars Its ok
For a vintage classic film its more than can be expected in plot and acting. The action portion lacks todays expectations
Published 1 month ago by John E. Futch
5.0 out of 5 stars Gary Cooper at his best
This is a great story about tright and wrong, nobility, good and evil. It is one of the great films and while Gunga Din may be more fun, the message in this movie and the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jerry
5.0 out of 5 stars This 1939 Beau Geste Legionnaire Film Is A Classic And The Best Of All...
I love this movie because it beautifully illustrates the "feast or famine" character of the lives lived by many who want adventure so intense and glorious, they risk... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ben J Korgen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
Because I remember this as a quality movie. And it still is. Even in black and white. Gary Cooper at his prime.
Published 4 months ago by Poppa
5.0 out of 5 stars A true blast from the past
When I was a boy, I fantasized about joining the Foreign Legion myself. Based on the 1924 novel by P.C. Read more
Published 5 months ago by magellan
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Gary Cooper
Classic movie by Gary Cooper! A must for any serious collection or movie buff. A classic on the French Foreign Legion.
Published 5 months ago by Lord Alexander Windsor
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Adventure
Combat in the desert, survival, cruelty--three brothers in the movie Beau Geste endure all this and forge bonds through loyalty and sacrifice. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Roger Weston
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie is a classic!
On of the best adventure movie ever made. You've got Gary Cooper, Ray Milan, & Robert Preston as the Geste brothers saving the honor or their adoptive mother and each other, plus a... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Phill Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars beau geste
sweet memories for us old geezers. younger folks wii get a glimps of history and the quality of older holywood
Published 10 months ago by David W. Viergever
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