Beau Geste

Rated 4.0

One of the unacknowledged side effects of the CGI-ification of the American filmscape is the death of adventure films. Nowadays, even Indiana Jones hangs out with ridiculous sci-fi concoctions like aliens, man-eating ants and Shia LeBeouf. William A. Wellman’s 1939 Beau Geste is the epitome of old Hollywood adventure: a silly, fast-paced, irresistibly entertaining lark about three honor-bound brothers who chase a stolen diamond into the French Foreign Legion. The Montana-born Gary Cooper, New Englander Robert Preston and Welshman Ray Milland play the Geste brothers, and if you think that strains credibility, wait until you see Brian Donlevy as the sadistic Russian Sergeant. Beau Geste is stiff at times and can’t help being compared unfavorably to Gunga Din (another desert-set 1939 adventure about three military comrades), but I loved how the brothers’ combat heroism was inseparable from their childhood fantasies.