Beau Brummell (1954)

111 mins | Biography, Drama | 29 October 1954

Director:

Curtis Bernhardt

Writer:

Karl Tunberg

Producer:

Sam Zimbalist

Cinematographer:

Oswald Morris

Editor:

Frank Clarke

Production Designer:

Alfred Junge

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Life and Times of Beau Brummell . The onscreen credits include the following written prologue: "In the day of Napoleon, Nelson, and Wellington, of Pitt, Burke, and Fox there lived a man called Beau Brummell. Lord Byron said he was the greatest man in Europe. Brummell agreed--and he very nearly proved it." The opening credits also state that the film was "based on the play written for Richard Mansfield by Clyde Fitch." Mansfield, one of the leading American actor-producers of the late 19th century, commissioned Beau Brummell from Fitch, a highly prolific playwright, in 1889 as a starring vehicle for himself. The play was a great success for both Mansfield and Fitch. Although Fitch's play is credited onscreen, a note attached to the SAB from studio executive Rudi Monta states: "The Clyde Fitch play was used by Karl Tunberg only as a mere springboard...as a matter of fact, the similarities between the Tunberg screenplay and the Fitch play stem from common historical sources."
       George Bryan "Beau" Brummell (1778--1840) was educated at Eton and Oxford, and became a close friend of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) while he was a teenager. Gifted with an impeccable sense of style, Brummell achieved renown in high society both as a wit and as an arbiter of fashion. In 1816 he fled to France to escape his creditors, and served time in debtor's prison before dying in a lunatic asylum in Caen. George IV (1762--1830) was appointed prince regent in 1811 after his father, King George III, was found mentally incompetent to rule, and reigned as king of Great ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Life and Times of Beau Brummell . The onscreen credits include the following written prologue: "In the day of Napoleon, Nelson, and Wellington, of Pitt, Burke, and Fox there lived a man called Beau Brummell. Lord Byron said he was the greatest man in Europe. Brummell agreed--and he very nearly proved it." The opening credits also state that the film was "based on the play written for Richard Mansfield by Clyde Fitch." Mansfield, one of the leading American actor-producers of the late 19th century, commissioned Beau Brummell from Fitch, a highly prolific playwright, in 1889 as a starring vehicle for himself. The play was a great success for both Mansfield and Fitch. Although Fitch's play is credited onscreen, a note attached to the SAB from studio executive Rudi Monta states: "The Clyde Fitch play was used by Karl Tunberg only as a mere springboard...as a matter of fact, the similarities between the Tunberg screenplay and the Fitch play stem from common historical sources."
       George Bryan "Beau" Brummell (1778--1840) was educated at Eton and Oxford, and became a close friend of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) while he was a teenager. Gifted with an impeccable sense of style, Brummell achieved renown in high society both as a wit and as an arbiter of fashion. In 1816 he fled to France to escape his creditors, and served time in debtor's prison before dying in a lunatic asylum in Caen. George IV (1762--1830) was appointed prince regent in 1811 after his father, King George III, was found mentally incompetent to rule, and reigned as king of Great Britain from 1820--1830. In 1785, George secretly married Mrs. Maria Anne Fitzherbert, a widow and Roman Catholic; however, the marriage was later declared illegal by Parliament.
       According to HR , M-G-M was planning to make a version of the film, with Robert Donat in the title role, as early as 1938. According to May 1953 studio publicity material contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, Eleanor Parker was originally cast opposite Stewart Granger. Beau Brummell was filmed entirely in England. On 15 Nov 1954, the film was given a Royal Command performance in London that was attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Margaret. According to a 17 Nov 1954 article in Var , the screening was preceded by a stage show directed by Peter Ustinov, and the event raised money for the Cinematograph Trades Benevolent Fund. Critical reaction to the special screening was quite negative. According to a 24 Nov 1954 Var news item, Sir Alexander Korda promptly published a letter in the Daily Telegraph recommending that the selection process for Royal Command performances be revised. A Jan 1986 HR news item reported that recently declassified government papers revealed that Queen Elizabeth was offended by the film's portrayal of her ancestors. According to a memo from Winston Churchill included in the papers, the queen told him "what a bad film it was."
       Fitch's play was first adapted for the screen by Warner Bros. in 1924. The silent film was directed by Harry Beaumont and starred John Barrymore and Mary Astor (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ). The life of George IV was the subject of the 1978 British television mini-series Prince Regent , which starred Peter Egan as the prince and Nigel Davenport as the king. George III's decline into mental illness was depicted in the 1994 British film The Madness of King George , which was directed by Nicholas Hytner and starred Nigel Hawthorne as the king and Rupert Everett as Prince George. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Oct 1954.
---
Daily Variety
6 Oct 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Oct 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 1938.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 53
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 53
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 54
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 54
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 54
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 1954.
---
Motion Picture Daily
6 Oct 1954.
---
Motion Picture Herald
9 Oct 1954.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Oct 54
p. 179.
New Statesman
27 Nov 1954.
---
New York Times
21 Oct 54
p. 31.
New Yorker
30 Oct 1954.
---
Variety
6 Oct 54
p. 6.
Variety
17 Nov 1954.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
MAKEUP
Hairdressing
SOURCES
LITERARY
Inspired by the play Beau Brummell by Clyde Fitch (New York, 17 May 1890).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Life and Times of Beau Brummell
Release Date:
29 October 1954
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Philadelphia, PA: 6 October 1954
Los Angeles opening: 15 October 1954
New York opening: 20 October 1954
Production Date:
late November 1953--early February 1954 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Boreham Wood, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 October 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4099
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Eastman Color
Lenses/Prints
print by Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
111
Length(in feet):
10,016
Length(in reels):
13
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16960
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In early 19th century England, while watching military exercises, George IV, Prince of Wales, is impressed by the swordsmanship of the dashing Capt. George Bryan Brummell. When the prince pays his compliments, Brummell responds with suggestions for improving the design of the regiment's uniforms, and George, who designed the uniforms himself, is offended. Brummell, a man of exacting sartorial and Epicurean tastes, is unfazed by the prince's disapproval, and makes an appearance that evening, wearing daring stove pipe pants, at a regimental dinner. There he meets the beautiful Lady Patricia Belham, the intended of George's political advisor, Lord Edwin Mercer. When Brummell refuses to retract his criticism of the uniforms, the prince discharges him from the service. Late that night, as Brummell watches his regiment embark on an overseas assignment, Patricia approaches him and asks why he is willing to sacrifice his military career. The proud Brummell explains that he is unwilling to compromise his dignity and self-respect, and impulsively kisses her. Brummell is left with no clear course for the future, however, as he has neither family name nor fortune. While strolling through town one day with his loyal valet Mortimer, Brummell sees politician Sir Ralph Sidley addressing a crowd. Brummell interrupts Sidley's speech with some sharply worded comments about the prince, and a newspaper reporter invites him to repeat his opinions the following evening at a civic meeting. Brummell accepts, and quickly makes a name for himself with his stinging indictment of the prince's excesses. Later, George is urged by Mercer and his prime minister, William Pitt, to end his relationship with his widowed, Catholic lover, Mrs. Maria Anne Fitzherbert, and make an advantageous marriage. Brummell is ... +


In early 19th century England, while watching military exercises, George IV, Prince of Wales, is impressed by the swordsmanship of the dashing Capt. George Bryan Brummell. When the prince pays his compliments, Brummell responds with suggestions for improving the design of the regiment's uniforms, and George, who designed the uniforms himself, is offended. Brummell, a man of exacting sartorial and Epicurean tastes, is unfazed by the prince's disapproval, and makes an appearance that evening, wearing daring stove pipe pants, at a regimental dinner. There he meets the beautiful Lady Patricia Belham, the intended of George's political advisor, Lord Edwin Mercer. When Brummell refuses to retract his criticism of the uniforms, the prince discharges him from the service. Late that night, as Brummell watches his regiment embark on an overseas assignment, Patricia approaches him and asks why he is willing to sacrifice his military career. The proud Brummell explains that he is unwilling to compromise his dignity and self-respect, and impulsively kisses her. Brummell is left with no clear course for the future, however, as he has neither family name nor fortune. While strolling through town one day with his loyal valet Mortimer, Brummell sees politician Sir Ralph Sidley addressing a crowd. Brummell interrupts Sidley's speech with some sharply worded comments about the prince, and a newspaper reporter invites him to repeat his opinions the following evening at a civic meeting. Brummell accepts, and quickly makes a name for himself with his stinging indictment of the prince's excesses. Later, George is urged by Mercer and his prime minister, William Pitt, to end his relationship with his widowed, Catholic lover, Mrs. Maria Anne Fitzherbert, and make an advantageous marriage. Brummell is summoned by the prince, and as he urges George to stand up to Pitt, a bond begins to grow between the two men. One evening, when Brummell returns from the prince's birthday party, Mortimer warns him that his numerous creditors are growing impatient and suggests they go abroad. Brummell, who has become George's close friend and confidant, refuses, insisting that the prince needs him. Patricia drops by, and after Brummell shows her his exquisitely furnished house, they admit their strong feelings for each other. Patricia considers him too unstable to be a good candidate for marriage, however, and Brummell soon learns that her engagement to Mercer will be announced at an upcoming hunting party. Brummell is present at the gathering, and the prince publicly praises him for his devotion, promising to make Brummell an earl when he becomes king. While the other guests are fox hunting, Brummell and Patricia find themselves alone in the woods, and they fall into a passionate embrace. After the hunt, Mercer brusquely tells Patricia they should cancel their engagement, but she promises never to see Brummell again. The following morning, the distraught prince tells Brummell that Mrs. Fitzherbert is planning to leave for Italy. Brummell tells the prince that Pitt has been concealing the fact that King George III has gone mad. He urges the prince to have his father certified insane and declare himself regent, which would empower him to marry whomever he pleases. With Brummell and several doctors at his side, the prince goes to court and calls on George III, who is declared mad after he fails to recognize his son and tries to strangle him. Parliament limits the prince's power as acting regent, although it does grant him authority to change the marriage act, which forbids marriage to a Catholic, and make it possible for George to wed Mrs. Fitzherbert. Brummell advises the prince to reject Parliament's conditions, however, or lose power to Pitt. Emotionally overwrought, the prince turns on Brummell, accusing him of acting out of self-interest. Brummell insults the prince, and their close friendship ends. When his break with the prince becomes known, Brummell's creditors close in, and Brummell and Mortimer flee to Calais, France. Time passes, and the prince ascends to the throne after the death of George III. One day, George tells Mercer, who is now married to Patricia, that he has heard Brummell is sick and impoverished. George requests Mercer to discreetly provide assistance to his former friend. Meanwhile, in a freezing garret in Calais, the ailing Brummell declines a lucrative offer to publish his memoirs lest they prove embarrassing to the king. Brummell's health declines, and he is visited on his deathbed by George, who is in Calais on state business. Brummell is greatly moved by the king's visit, and the two men have an emotional reunion. After the king leaves, Brummell dies, his heart finally at peace. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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