THE LAST REMAKE OF BEAU GESTE
(1977). Directed by Marty Feldman. Starring Marty Feldman, Michael York, and Ann-Margret.
If you're a fan of Mel Brooks' spoofs, then the directorial debut of Brooks' sometime collaborator Marty Feldman should be right up your alley. Taking a twisted look at the classic adventure yarn Beau Geste, Feldman tells the tale of two brothers: Beau (Michael York), whose good looks and dashing bearing have cast him in the role of hero his whole life, and Digby (Marty Feldman), who is...well, Marty Feldman. (Digby explains the discrepancy: "We were identical twins, but somehow, Beau was much more identical than I was.") When the family's most prized possession, the legendary Blue Water sapphire, is in danger of falling into the hands of the brothers' gold-digging stepmother (Ann-Margret), Beau absconds with the gem and runs away to join the French Foreign Legion. Faithful Digby soon follows, and they soon find themselves under the thumb of the sadistic Sergeant Markov (Peter Ustinov). Much silliness ensues.
Feldman provides a steady stream of memorable gags, both verbal and visual. The movie falters towards the end with a "mirage" sequence in which Digby interacts with footage of Gary Cooper from the1939 version of Beau Geste...a scene which is skillfully edited and technically impressive, but stops the story in its tracks. Fortunately, the movie soon regains its footing and returns to a brisk pace.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Once again, my usual headline doesn't apply: The cast is filled with an impressive roster of performers, in roles both big and small. In addition to the major players mentioned earlier in this review, Feldman has assembled a veritable who's who of comedic talent (and some surprising work from well-known dramatic actors): Trevor Howard, James Earl Jones, Henry Gibson, Roy Kinnear, Spike Milligan, Terry-Thomas, Sinead Cusack, Hugh Griffith, Irene Handl, Avery Schrieber, Ted Cassidy...and even Ed McMahon.
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