Beau Brummell (1954)
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The rooms look authentic, and, when Ustinov is jabbering some nonsense as the trivial, vain, empty monarch to be, the film even sounds authentic
As Lady Patricia, Taylor is allowed to move on a sea of romantic indecision She must choose between the impetuous adventurer and a serious court Politician A little bourgeoise at heart, she makes her choice finally for the harbor rather than the tempest
The movie is based on Clyde Fitch's play, but with a pallid Stewart Granger as the widely known sartorial dandy, the focus is wisely shifted to the crazy Regent Ustinov's Regent has more glamor than Granger's soldier of fortune, and the movie becomes the story of the misguided, easily manipulated, finally rather pathetic Prince of Wales rather than a showcase for the skill and panache of Captain Beau Brummell
As a character study of fashion-crazed royalty, Bernhardt's film is pompously entertaining; as romance, or as insight into the historical Beau himself, the movie is impoverished Granger and his leading lady are responsible for the dead weight that surrounds Ustinov's spirited silliness
The rich, willful Taylor contained intimations of the Southern belles to follow, but even at her maturity, in "A Place in the Sun" or "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Liz had not fully awakened to the best that was in her
Peter Ustinov is just marvelous as The Prince of Wales. Again and again, he shows that he was just born to play these majestic spots. Robert Morely is fabulous in the one scene that he appears in the film as the insane king.
The weak link here is Elizabeth Taylor. She seems like she is acting in 1944's "National Velvet."
The picture is a wonderful study of class values, snobbery and redemption in the end.
The film is far from being historically accurate, especially as regards chronology. The events depicted here (the Regency Crisis of 1788, the Prince's marriage to Caroline of Brunswick, Brummell's rise in the Prince's favour, his fall from grace, the death of King George III in 1820 and Brummel's own death in 1840) historically cover a period in excess of fifty years, but here they are presented as occurring over a much shorter timescale. Rather oddly, the villain of the piece is William Pitt the Younger, widely regarded as one of Britain's greatest Prime Ministers but presented here as a cunning, power-hungry schemer who refuses to allow King George III to be certified as mad (although he quite obviously is) in order to protect his own power. (The relationship between Pitt and the King depicted here more closely resembles that between the Austrian Chancellor Prince Metternich and the feeble-minded Emperor Ferdinand I who, for political reasons, was never declared to be insane). In reality Pitt died in 1806, but here he is shown as outliving not only George III but also Brummell.
The film's politics are, in fact, rather inconsistent. Early on, Brummell, whose family although wealthy are of fairly humble stock, is portrayed as something of a radical filled with the spirit of the French Revolution and complaining about the class divisions within British society. Later on, however, he becomes as the Prince's friend an arch-reactionary, encouraging the future George IV to defy Parliament and to rule more as an autocrat than as a constitutional monarch. Brummell's justification for this apparent change of heart is that he feels that the Prince will make an admirably liberal ruler, far more liberal than Pitt, but the character played by Peter Ustinov does not really make us feel that this confidence is well-founded.
Stewart Granger was known for playing dashing heroes in costume dramas, so was well-suited to the lead role, although it contains less in the way of physical action than some of his other parts from this period. Ustinov gives a good comic performance as the petulant, self-pitying Prince, and Robert Morley a more serious one as the mad old King. I was, however, surprised to see Elizabeth Taylor, already a major star in her early twenties, in a comparatively minor role. She plays Brummell's love-interest Lady Patricia Belham, although he eventually loses her to another man. Apparently Lady Patricia, a fictitious character not found in the play on which the screenplay was based, was inserted to allay any suspicions on the part of the ultra-puritanical American censors that the friendship between Brummell and the Prince might be homosexual in nature.
"Beau Brummell" is not the sort of film which is likely to please the historian, but then it was never intended to. It was clearly intended as an enjoyable period romp and, to some extent, still works on that level. 6/10
Such is life. There is a prayer which goes, "Keep me safe from the evil of one, who I have favored". Because, it hurts a whole lot more when you get back-stabbed from them.
Most people on this board have no kind word for Brummell. Maybe, because they have been on the receiving end from somebody like that. A man with flair, elan, a quick wit and bold to boot. Such men do ruffle the feathers of the rest of us, make us look bad in comparison. But to not recognize their qualities is unfair. Some may also not appreciate the theme of a 'commoner' trying to mix with royalty. That's just a sad shame.
Brummell could have easily remained in the good graces of the prince, got his earlship, minted money and remain an insider, as long as plumpy was on the throne. But he threw it all away for pride 'n principle and even at death's door, he receives plumpy in a dignified manner and is overly kind and courteous to him.
You have to have character, to recognize it and cherish it, in this movie I guess. I would urge everyone with upright principle to watch this movie for an affirmation. :)
Hollywood was determined that he was at the center of the films. At his best (KING SOLOMON'S MINES, YOUNG BESS, SCARAMOUCHE) he was given good material, and good direction, and some humor (in SCARAMOUCHE anyway). But he was soon straight jacketed into costume films no matter how weak they were. Granger did occasionally break away from sword and leotard flicks, like ALL THE BROTHERS WERE VALLIANT and THE LAST HUNT and (a little later) NORTH TO ALASKA - a welcome comic part. But most of his Hollywood films were like BEAU BRUMMEL and FOOTSTEPS IN THE FOG: Weak stories with Granger pushed into British historical costumes.
BEAU BRUMMEL had been a play written at the turn of the century by America's leading dramatist of the day, Clyde Fitch. Forgotten (somewhat unjustly today), Fitch was usually a social comedy writer. His best known comic play (not revived for many decades) was a vehicle for a young actress named Ethel Barrymore called CAPTAIN JINKS OF THE HORSE MARINES. After watching Barrymore pursue the actor portraying Captain Adolphus Jinks (yes, that's his name) for two and a half hours, the play was so successful that Ethel added a line at the end to still the demands for encores: "That's all there is, there isn't anymore." Ironically, due to savage critics like Brooks Atkinson, Fitch's plays are rarely staged, so that final line is better remembered than it's play.
A number of years back (about 1986 or so) a group of female actors put together a review, called "The Club" (I believe that was the name). They were dressed in turn of the century clothing as male members of a club. Part of the review was a one act play of Fitch's. The critics felt it was quite well acted and even entertaining.
Fitch was known for historical dramas as well. He wrote one on NATHAN HALE. He also wrote this play, BEAU BRUMMEL, for Richard Mansfield. It is actually a study in a dandy's fall from "greatness" or social fame into tragedy. The real Brummell was to lose his social position, his fortune, his friendship with George, Prince of Wales ("Prinny" or "Florizel" - later George IV), and finally his sanity. The original play was grim. For an actor like Mansfield, who reveled in roles that emphasized opposites (the original "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde") he must have enjoyed going from plushy costumes to rags. The 1924 film version with John Barrymore as Brummel is closer to the original.
Brummel was a leader of social fashion. One of the Regency figures (including his "fat friend" the Prince) who created the style known as "Regency" that is for the period of 1795 to 1837. He influenced the Prince about wardrobe and social behavior - so much that George was called "The First Gentleman of Europe". But he had no political influence. He probably had no political ideas of importance at all.
The film tries to make him more important historically than he was. He was a fop who briefly influenced culture - but he did not confront William Pitt the Younger as this film suggests. In fact Prince George was not the best person to try to influence politically at all. Although in his youth he was frequently seen with Whig figures like Charles Fox (Peter Bull in the film) or Richard Sheridan, this was to spite his Tory father George III (Robert Morley in this film). If you saw that better historical film, THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE III, the poisonous relationship of the King and his heir was shown quite well. As Prince George grew older, his basic conservatism grew. By the time he was acting Prince Regent and then King (1811 - 1820; 1820 - 1830) he was firmly in the Tory ranks. But Pitt the Younger was dead by then.
As mentioned in another comment on this thread, Morley as the mad King, and Ustinov as the Prince (later King) were the best performers in this film. Poor Granger tries, but he has a terrible script to work with. They should have kept to the original - it might have been worth while as a film. For the sake of Ustinov and Morley I am giving this film a 6 out of 10.
That was the real Brummell and he only survives today as an expression to signify someone with good fashion sense. He had that and little else. He didn't invent anything, he wasn't a great military leader, he never went into politics and nor was he the champion of a great cause.
It's not much to work with and poor Stewart Granger tries his best, but the part defeats him. Elizabeth Taylor in one of the last films she was given a part to look pretty and little else, she does that. Peter Ustinov comes off far the best as the Prince of Wales.
I understood the Brummell character perfectly. We've all experienced someone like that in our midst. In my former work life we had such an individual who had no discernible talent, but a great knack for kissing up to the powers that be. One of them took him along when she moved to head another agency and basically tried to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Like Brummell he overreached himself and had a big fall. When last heard of he was working in a florist's shop. Like Brummell he thought he was on the fast track to something way beyond his talents and abilities.
In that sense the film is universally identifiable. But today I can see the part being played by a Rob Lowe and not so heroically. Beau was no hero.
Beau Brummell is a biopic, about the love-hate friendship between the title character and the Prince of Wales, played by Stewart Granger and Peter Ustinov, respectively. It gets a little wordy, since it was based off a play, but those who like lots of beautiful sets and costumes to look at will be sufficiently distracted. The distraction for everyone will be Elizabeth Taylor, and she sparkles in the few romantic scenes she's given.
It's not a fantastic movie, but it won't hurt you to watch it, if you like historical movies, or the 1800s in particular. If you're not fully invested though, it might get a little boring.
Stewart Granger was a good actor, always solid and attractive, with a powerful voice, but he had a tendency to be unexciting. Also, and this is just an opinion, he did better in macho action films. One of the posters pointed out that Elizabeth Taylor was thrown in to show that Beau was heterosexual, but the poster wasn't sure. He is a bit of a fop and not suited to the talents of Granger, who is on the boring side here. The acting honors go to Peter Ustinov and Robert Morley, as the Prince of Wales and his father. These performances could be considered over the top, but they're only over the top because no one else is doing anything.
The actual story is treated in a superficial manner, with not much of a look into Beau's politics or much else.
Just okay. I think if you have a large flat-screen TV it would be fun to watch.
Granger and Elizabeth Taylor fall for each other but Taylor opts for marriage to the stolid James Donald rather than the dashing but erratic Granger who is making a living by gambling and has piled up a mountain of debts. Eventually, Granger not being willing or able to come to the mountain, the mountain comes to Granger -- at about the same time Granger's pip-pip advice to the Prince becomes too frank. Granger flees to France where he dies in poverty.
It's not what you think of when you think of a Stewart Granger movie. He was the Errol Flynn of the 1950s. His best-known films involved swashbuckling, pursuits on horseback, that sort of thing. This movie is not like that. It's duller and, in a way, more adult.
Granger here is a complex man and although the audience is invariably going to root for him -- he IS, after all, Stewart Granger -- he has quite a few flaws. It could even be argued that he is made up of nothing BUT flaws. Despite the fact that the movie does its best to paper over them, the artifice shows and the cracks are visible.
My God, what a narcissist. He's self indulgent, full of rude Wildeian quips, snooty and insolent, manipulative, and reckless with the feelings of others. The Elizabeth Taylor character was invented to assure us that Beau Brummel was heterosexual but I don't know.
I don't know that Granger himself is any more manipulative than the movie. Okay, he's an adviser to the Prince on politics. What are his politics like? The film introduces them by having Granger make a few indignant remarks about the high-flown ways of the aristocracy. Why, take the flour that those aristos put into their wigs! Enough to feed fifty million families on bread for ten million years! Very populist.
And that's the end of his interest in people blessed with less opportunity than himself. Thereafter he urges the Prince to exert his power and, at the final confrontation, not to accept any compromise with parliament regarding the bestowing of earldoms. (Ustinov had promised to make Granger an earl.) Is Granger as Brummel simply using Ustinov as the Prince to advance his own interests? Granger muses to himself -- and to Mortimer, the servant who polishes his boots with champagne -- that it may have started off that way but now Granger realizes that the Prince needs his friendship as much as he, Granger, needs the Prince's. Right-o, Beau. That kind of reasoning is known as an ego defense mechanism.
Granger is extremely handsome, dressed to the nines, and strides around with pomp and character. But Peter Ustinov is equally good in a secondary role -- a pouting, blushing, pink little porker. Ustinov convinces us that he's filled with self doubt and hesitancy, as much as Granger so skillfully plays the role of the self-confident sociopath.
We all wind up rooting for Granger, yes, but we probably won't cheer so loudly if we pay attention to the goings on. Kids may miss the action of Stewart's other films of the period. Adults may be able to get into the intrigue and the intricacies of personal motives. They may also appreciate Elizabeth Taylor at her most gaspingly stunning.
As we are told in " the man who shot Liberty Valance" ,when history is less beautiful than the legend,let's print the legend.
The cast is very good: Stewart Granger portrays a committed dandy -we are not told he used to spend five hours a day to dress himself- who is a friend of the prince of Wales but who is influenced by the New World and the French Revolution.He looks like a cross between Lafayette (who refused to be at the beck and call of Louis 16th even before the Revolution) and Beaumarchais' s "Figaro ("what did you do to deserve so many goods?You were born (a noble) and that's it").Granger displays panache,dignity and loyalty;Peter Ustinov,gives a performance which reminds me of his effeminate Nero in "Quo Vadis" ;Robert Morley briefly appears as the lunatic king but he makes his scenes count;Elizabeth Taylor's part of a lady who cannot make up her mind- adventure or security- is not one of the actress's best though ;it was her heyday and "Brummel" does not compare favorably to "suddenly last Summer" "giant" or even "the raintree county" or "Ivanhoe".
"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".
Well that sets the mood doesn't it? Time to sit back and enjoy a romping good costumer with dandy dashers dealing in politico shenanigans and romancing buxom beauties. Only that isn't quite the case, for what follows is more a staid picture about a supposed interesting man during what was undoubtedly a very interesting time in 19th century England (this is the time when King George III was losing his marbles and the Pitt family flourished in politics as Whig Independents). But not all historical periods make for a great movie, so perhaps Brummell's tale just isn't that interesting to begin with? He was known for his love of clothes and gambling, and true enough he wasn't afraid to speak his mind, but on the screen it never ignites into anything blood stirring. It's an over talky piece that is low on action and skirts around the chances to keep the narrative spicey.
Perhaps the presence of Granger lends false an expectation of a swashbuckler? But even armed with prior knowledge that this is not that type of Granger movie doesn't prepare for how laborious the picture is at times. Thank god, then, for Ustinov, who practically makes sitting thru the movie worth it on his own. He plays the Prince of Wales as a self-involved neurotic, thriving on decadence as he becomes the King in waiting and shares a passion with Brummell for the finer things in life. But away from Ustinov the acting is hit and miss, with Granger only asked to be handsome and deliver lines with style, and Taylor looking radiant yet hardly able to put any heat into the simmering romance with Brummell. It would have been nice to have had more of Robert Morley as George III, while both Paul Rogers as William Pitt & James Donald as Lord Edwin Mercer hold their respective ends up well enough. While away from the actors there's some good production value with Morris' photography, as the English countryside comes to life and the interiors of Ockwells Manor in Berkshire fit snuggly for the period setting.
The core issues such as fashion, elegance and society standings may indeed be camera friendly, but the story around those things is sadly rather bland. 5/10
However, this is not the right stuff for a movie. It's directed and acted like a stage drama and that's what it should be. Being a film, the old-fashioned plot isn't able to thrill. I was tired anyway and it was hard not to fall asleep.
Of course Stewart Granger as Mr Brummel is a farce. Peter Ustinov as the Prince of Wales is doing a rather well show.