Beau Geste has been produced with vigorous realism and spectacular sweep. Director William Wellman has focused attention on the melodramatic and vividly gruesome aspects of the story, and skimmed lightly over the episodes and motivation which highlighted Percival Christopher Wren's original novel.
The finest of three screen versions of PC Wren's tale of heroism in the French Foreign Legion (the others were made in 1926 and 1966, the latter a travesty). Pictorially ravishing, it features a memorable opening with a fort garrisoned by corpses, and the high adventure tone carries on from there.
Spirited performances don’t / quite redeem the melodramatic contrivances of this often-filmed piece of romantic nonsense. But the Moroccan desert (actually Arizona) looks great, and at the very least, this Geste is leagues better than the 1966 remake with Telly Savalas.
The picture, rousingly directed by William Wellman, was indeed a success, but Cooper, horribly miscast as a dashing young British gallant...was embarrassingly callow, almost simpering, and he looked too old for the part.