Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

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  • Beau Brummel (1924) - Plot Summary - Silent costume drama which relates the story of that real-life clothes horse known as "the greatest dandy of all time", Beau Brummell. Opening title card: "Nowhere in history can be found a more amazing character than George Bryan Brummel, the friend of Princes, the arbiter of fashion ...". The film begins in 1795 - beautiful Maid Margery (Mary Astor) is being forced into marriage to an aging Lord/Colonel by her ambitious mother and must abandon her one true love, George Bryan Brummel (John Barrymore), a "young man of no importance" (as mama says to her "Would you ruin us for this nobody?"). Well, now Brummel wants revenge and sets out with a mission to use his charms and wit against the society that stole his love. He manages to befriend his royal highness, George, Prince of Wales at a dinner party one evening and before you know it Brummel is favored by Prince and Court and leading London society in their hungry pursuit of fashion and gossip. Dubbed the moniker "Beau" by the Prince, he's become a certified dandy and slave to fashion in top hat, cravat, fancy waistcoat, and seriously tight pants. He's got his own fashionable house and gentleman's gentleman to serve him - his trusty snuff box always in easy reach. He seduces married ladies at private "midnight suppers", though doesn't care for any of them (forever loyal to Margery). Poor, poor Lady Hester (Carmel Myers) is totally infatuated with Brummel as she ladles him with kisses and he mugs and grimaces to the camera to show how repulsed he is by her. When Margery, now Lady Alvanley, comes back into his circle at Court, she is pursued by the Prince of Wales leading to a rift in the relationship between Prince and Brummel. Soon in disfavor, Brummel's downfall into debt and obscurity begins!

    Review - I thought Barrymore's acting was quite good in this (okay, yeah there's a bit of over-the-top eyebrow movement earlier on) - his portrayal in the last part of the film as an aged, senile and penniless old wretch is really something to see! Mary Astor is very young, very beautiful in this film - like a true silent star, she shows so much emotion simply with her eyes. I also enjoyed the performance of the plump and oafish Prince of Wales, played by actor Willard Louis. The storyline is a bit muddled through parts, and I do often wonder why the character of Brummel seems so set on ruining his chances for happiness throughout his life simply for revenge (he comes across as rather a bitter jerk, can't he just get over it and move on?!), but the acting is top-notch, the production qualities excellent, regency period setting and costumes well done. The film as screened on TCM channel featured a good-looking print and very nice original music score by James Schafer that accompanies the film well. A good film, well worth seeing - if just to see Barrymore at his best. Rating - * 8/10 stars *

    Director: Harry Beaumont
    Film Genre: Period/Historical Romantic Melodrama
    Film Runtime: 135 minutes

Links / Resources

film review John Barrymore as Beau Brummel


10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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