The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977)

PG | 84 mins | Comedy | 15 July 1977

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HISTORY

At the beginning of the film, a contemporary Universal Pictures logo is followed by a vintage Universal logo, in black-and-white, with Lucite letters circling a globe. Behind it, a door opens revealing the globe in a darkened room. There, writer-director-actor Marty Feldman mounts a ladder behind the globe, sends the Lucite letters crashing to the floor, and deflates the globe as a voiceover states “The place: North Africa. The year: 1906 …” A finger points to North Africa on a map as the film shifts to color. The film also begins with the following written prologue: "This story appears to start here in the Sahara Desert -- but it really started some years earlier -- in England."
       The following statement appears in the end credits: “This production was filmed entirely on location in Ireland and Spain. The producer gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of the National Film Studios of Ireland, Adare Manor, Limerick Ireland and Estudios Roma, Madrid, Spain.”
       The picture intermittently features references to classic films and past productions of Beau Geste, including a black-and-white scene where Digby fantasizes he is in the 1939 version, speaking to Gary Cooper, and a sequence where Rudolph Valentino advises the “Sheikh” to move to Hollywood for a silent film career. The battle sequence is interrupted by a mock commercial for a used-camel lot.
       The Last Remake of Beau Geste is a satire of the Percival Christopher Wren novel Beau Geste and the three earlier films based upon it, released in 1927, 1939, and 1966 (see entries).
       While a sign in the picture identifies the battle location as "Fort Zideneuf," it is called "Fort ... More Less

At the beginning of the film, a contemporary Universal Pictures logo is followed by a vintage Universal logo, in black-and-white, with Lucite letters circling a globe. Behind it, a door opens revealing the globe in a darkened room. There, writer-director-actor Marty Feldman mounts a ladder behind the globe, sends the Lucite letters crashing to the floor, and deflates the globe as a voiceover states “The place: North Africa. The year: 1906 …” A finger points to North Africa on a map as the film shifts to color. The film also begins with the following written prologue: "This story appears to start here in the Sahara Desert -- but it really started some years earlier -- in England."
       The following statement appears in the end credits: “This production was filmed entirely on location in Ireland and Spain. The producer gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of the National Film Studios of Ireland, Adare Manor, Limerick Ireland and Estudios Roma, Madrid, Spain.”
       The picture intermittently features references to classic films and past productions of Beau Geste, including a black-and-white scene where Digby fantasizes he is in the 1939 version, speaking to Gary Cooper, and a sequence where Rudolph Valentino advises the “Sheikh” to move to Hollywood for a silent film career. The battle sequence is interrupted by a mock commercial for a used-camel lot.
       The Last Remake of Beau Geste is a satire of the Percival Christopher Wren novel Beau Geste and the three earlier films based upon it, released in 1927, 1939, and 1966 (see entries).
       While a sign in the picture identifies the battle location as "Fort Zideneuf," it is called "Fort Zinderneuf" in both the Wren novel and in the previous versions of the film.
       On 11 Feb 1976, Var announced that English comedian Marty Feldman was set to make his directorial and writing debut with the picture, which marked the first of Feldman’s five-film contract with Universal Pictures. Although Paramount Pictures produced the first two Beau Geste films, Universal owned the rights to Paramount’s library at the time and had financed the 1966 version. Feldman directed only one other picture for Universal, In God We Trust (1980, see entry) before his death in 1982.
       Although 2 Sep 1976 DV and HR news items reported the casting of John Cleese as “Sherlock Holmes,” neither Cleese nor the character appears in the film and it is possible that the trades were referring to Cleese’s 1977 British Sherlock Holmes spoof, The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It.
       A 5 Jul 1976 LAT article and other sources placed the budget around $4 million.
       While trade sources, including the 15 Jul 1976 HR and the 19 Jul 1976 DV, stated the film was to begin production 23 Aug 1976 and 30 Aug 1976, respectively, a 15 Sep 1976 Var article reported that principal photography began 31 Aug 1976 in Ireland. Locations included Kilmainham Jail in Dublin, two weeks at Adare Manor, Limerick, and the National Film Studios at Ardmore. The production was scheduled to move to Spain 23 Sep 1976 for five weeks of filming around Madrid, followed by ten days in the desert near Huelva, Spain. A 15 Jul 1976 HR article noted that the production was also scheduled to film in Seville and the Matalascanas resort of southern Spain. As stated in a 27 Oct 1976 Var article, the filmmakers selected foreign locations due to the prohibitive British taxation of film productions, as well as in an effort to portray the picture as an international venture. Post-production was planed to take place in Hollywood, CA.
       A 26 Dec 1976 LAHExam article reported that Marty Feldman contracted chicken pox while in Ireland, delaying production two-and-a-half weeks. Later, due to heavy Spanish rain, the production lost “all but five days” between mid-Oct 1976 and mid-Nov 1976, increasing the budget from $4.5 million to over $6 million.
       The film received mostly mixed reviews with the 13 Jul 1977 DV calling it, “an often hilarious, if uneven, spoof.”
       In addition to the four film versions, Beau Geste was produced as a BBC television miniseries in 1982. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Jul 1977.
---
Cue
23 Jul 1977.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1976.
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Daily Variety
2 Sep 1976.
---
Films and Filming
Feb 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1977
p. 3, 7.
LAHExam
26 Dec 1976.
Section E, p.1, 7.
LAHExam
14 Jul 1977
Section B, p. 1, 5.
Los Angeles Free Press
15 Jul-21 Jul 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Jul 1976
Section IV, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
15 Jul 1977
p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Aug 1977.
---
New Republic
30 Jul 1977.
---
New York
8 Aug 1977.
---
New York Times
16 Jul 1977
p. 12.
Newsweek
25 Jul 1977.
---
Time
8 Aug 1977.
---
Variety
11 Feb 1976.
---
Variety
26 May 1976.
---
Variety
15 Sep 1976.
---
Variety
27 Oct 1976.
---
Variety
13 Jul 1977
p. 18.
Village Voice
22 Aug 1977
pp. 43-44.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Marty Feldman Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
Unit prod mgr
Spanish prod mgr
Spanish asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Spanish art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward master
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Spec eff supv
Titles & opt eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Make-up
Hair stylist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
European casting dir
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Beau Geste by Percival Christopher Wren (New York, 1925).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Positively the Last Remake of Beau Geste
Release Date:
15 July 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 15 Julyy 1977
Production Date:
began 31 August 1976 in Dublin, Ireland
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed with Panavision® equipment
Duration(in mins):
84
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24884
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1906 North Africa, a French Foreign Legion regiment marches across the desert. Some years earlier, at Geste Manor in England, Sir Hector Geste awaits the birth of a son whom he plans to name Beau. However, Sir Hector’s wife dies giving birth to a daughter. Later, Sir Hector visits the Wormwood & Call Boys’ Orphanage in search of an heir he can raise to be a military hero. When he spots Obediah Spittle, a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy, punching the other children, Sir Hector finds his Beau. Miss Wormwood, the proprietor, insists Sir Hector also adopt Obediah’s “identical” twin. Sir Hector renames the boys Beau and Digby Geste. Years pass and the boys are raised alongside their sister, Isabel, becoming an inseparable trio. While Beau is handsome and debonair, Digby is less attractive and physically awkward. Sir Hector grooms Beau for greatness, but Digby is there mainly to follow orders. One day, Sir Hector announces that England is at war and his regiment has been called to duty. He shows Beau the “Blue Water” sapphire, the foundation of the Geste fortune, and asks him to guard the jewel until he returns. Years later, Beau, Digby, and Isabel reach adulthood and Sir Hector returns triumphantly from the Sudan with a much younger bride, Lady Flavia Geste. That night, Sir Hector has a heart attack while making love and lies on his deathbed. Flavia wastes no time in making plans to sell Geste Manor and the Blue Water, and sending Isabel and Digby to a nunnery. She has other plans for Beau. However, the Blue Water disappears during a brief blackout and Beau convinces Flavia to wait until morning before calling ... +


In 1906 North Africa, a French Foreign Legion regiment marches across the desert. Some years earlier, at Geste Manor in England, Sir Hector Geste awaits the birth of a son whom he plans to name Beau. However, Sir Hector’s wife dies giving birth to a daughter. Later, Sir Hector visits the Wormwood & Call Boys’ Orphanage in search of an heir he can raise to be a military hero. When he spots Obediah Spittle, a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy, punching the other children, Sir Hector finds his Beau. Miss Wormwood, the proprietor, insists Sir Hector also adopt Obediah’s “identical” twin. Sir Hector renames the boys Beau and Digby Geste. Years pass and the boys are raised alongside their sister, Isabel, becoming an inseparable trio. While Beau is handsome and debonair, Digby is less attractive and physically awkward. Sir Hector grooms Beau for greatness, but Digby is there mainly to follow orders. One day, Sir Hector announces that England is at war and his regiment has been called to duty. He shows Beau the “Blue Water” sapphire, the foundation of the Geste fortune, and asks him to guard the jewel until he returns. Years later, Beau, Digby, and Isabel reach adulthood and Sir Hector returns triumphantly from the Sudan with a much younger bride, Lady Flavia Geste. That night, Sir Hector has a heart attack while making love and lies on his deathbed. Flavia wastes no time in making plans to sell Geste Manor and the Blue Water, and sending Isabel and Digby to a nunnery. She has other plans for Beau. However, the Blue Water disappears during a brief blackout and Beau convinces Flavia to wait until morning before calling the police. Early the next day, Beau disappears and Digby and Isabel discover a note from their brother admitting that he stole the Blue Water for safekeeping. He warns them not to look for him, especially in North Africa. Digby destroys the note, confesses to the crime, and is sentenced to 956 years of hard labor. Meanwhile, somewhere in Morocco, Sgt. Markov and Corp. Boldini greet Beau and a new group of recruits. Beau writes to Digby updating him on his experiences and Digby vows to escape from prison and join him. Later, Flavia visits Digby and tells him that she knows Beau has the Blue Water. Digby refuses to reveal his brother’s whereabouts, but Flavia has sex with the prison Governor so that he will covertly help her stepson escape. Back in Morocco, the new legionnaires learn they will be departing the following day to defend Fort Zindeneuf, where they will likely die. Meanwhile, Digby escapes, makes his way to North Africa, reports for duty and reunite with Beau. Flavia follows Digby, seduces the Legion’s commandant, General Pecheur, and bribes Sgt. Markov to retrieve the Blue Water from Beau. The regiment departs the next morning for the march to Fort Zindeneuf. In the desert, they are attacked by a Sheikh’s Arab army and lose their flag, but Beau and Digby recapture the flag to rally the spirits of their comrades. The next day, the march to the fort continues and Digby experiences a mirage. As he later rejoins the march, General Pecheur and Flavia visit the Sheikh. Pecheur is financing the Sheikh’s army to profit from munitions sales and is not happy that the war is losing money; he orders the Sheikh to attack Fort Zindeneuf and leave no survivors. Later, Markov and his men reach the fort, and to boost morale, the Sgt. throws a regimental dinner. When Flavia and Beau share a dance, she informs him that she plans to return to England with both him and the Blue Water sapphire. Flavia and Beau make love in the desert and she tells him she does not want him to be at the fort when the Arabs attack. Meanwhile, Pecheur and his second in command, Captain Merdmanger, anticipate the carnage and sneak away from the fort before dawn. Beau returns to warn the legionnaires of the impending assault, causing them to desert en masse. As Markov fights Beau for the Blue Water, Beau gives him a fake sapphire that he had hidden in Markhov’s artificial leg. When Markov and Boldini depart thinking themselves rich men, Beau confides to Digby and Flavia that the real sapphire is in a safe deposit box in Paris, France. At that exact moment, in England, Sir Hector finally dies. Back at the fort, Beau stages his own death by burning his uniform and leaving his identification tags in the ashes. He and Flavia flee after he knocks Digby unconscious, leaving his brother behind to be the heroic last survivor. Pecheur and Merdmanger return to discover Beau’s “remains” and give him his desired burial at sea by flushing the ashes down the toilet. Digby refuses to divulge what happened, but when facing a firing squad, he elects to tell the truth. Three months later, Digby returns to Geste Manor and is reunited with Isabel. Meanwhile, Beau and Flavia relax on a beach and enjoy their fortune. +

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

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