Beau Brummel (1924)

Article 4129 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-10-2013
Directed by Harry Beaumont
Featuring John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Willard Louis
Country: USA
What it is: Biopic

A military officer loses the woman he loves because he has no rank or fortune. He decides to take revenge by winnowing his way into the court, becoming a dandy and an avatar of fashion, and living a life of scandal. But things take a turn for the worse for him when he falls afoul of the Prince of Wales…

The last movie I saw from 1924 was HOT WATER, and like that one, this one saves all of its fantastic content for the last few minutes. But then, I didn’t really expect it to have much; after all, this is mostly a love story/biopic about George Bryan “Beau” Brummel, and with very few exceptions (movies about Rasputin, for example), these don’t really fall into genre territory. It’s an entertaining movie, though it gets a bit confusing and dull in the middle, but this may be partially due to the fact that my print isn’t complete; it runs only 80 minutes, whereas the full film ran two hours and fifteen minutes. It’s anchored by a solid performance by John Barrymore, and one thing I do admire about him as that even though he was considered one of the most handsome men in Hollywood, he wasn’t afraid to have himself made up to look decrepit; the final scenes where Brummel has become senile are played with real gusto and feeling by Barrymore. The last scene is also the most touching in the movie, especially when he is visited by his former manservant, who manages to break through the man’s senility at least for a few minutes. The fantastic content is that ghosts of several of the important characters appear in the last few moments; they may be part of someone’s imagination, but they are there in the movie nonetheless.


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