Starring John Barrymore and Mary Astor
While "The Thief of Bagdad" is the great achievement of an actor-businessman who has devoted his entire life to the movies, "Beau Brummel" is the brief fling of a remarkable actor; a short rest between two strenuous seasons of "Hamlet." If Barrymore took the movies as seriously as Fairbanks, he would have engaged Ernest Lubitsch as his director, spent several months in careful planning and then stepped before the camera for "Beau Brummel."
Now as pictures go, "Beau Brummel" is excellent, but it seems too bad that a Barrymore - or should I say the Barrymore? - has two standards - one for the stage and one for the movies. Partly because the picture is too long and partly because the scenario was constructed without a full realization of the screen possibilities of Clyde Fitchs' play, the picture seems lacking in deftness and finesse.
I should have wished the Beau to be something of a male Gloria Swanson, an elegant gentleman who fought his duel with society by wit and subtlety. Barrymore's Beau is a little too wry and a little too sour. And as for the vanities of the first gentleman of Europe, I wish Lubitsch had been on hand to give us more details of the sartorial secrets of the "king of fops."
During most of the picture, Barrymore walks through the scenes with the ease of an actor who happens to know more about his profession than any other man in the game. Only in the scenes of Beau's exile and disgrace does he launch forth into magnificent acting. And these scenes are pure gold. The ounce of tragedy compensates you for the ton of comedy that has been somewhat clumsily managed. Except that the picture doesn't measure up in all respects to Barrymore's talents, there is no particular reason to call in the police to protest against the Warner Brothers production. Most of the picture is pleasingly set, except for one background that might have been copied from an ancient Fox drama starring Valeska Surratt. This particular setting shows the wonderful Beau making a gallant fight against the wiles of a vampire, surrounded by sofa cushions as big as flivvers and perfumed by the best brand of incense in Hollywood. Carmel Myers, who plays the naughty lady who pestered poor Beau, also struck me as being an off-note in a good cast. Miss Myers behaved as though she had stepped in the studio from an Oriental drama by mistake.
As Lady Margery, beloved by Beau, Mary Astor is delightful to look at, and one can forgive her for being rather immature. Willard Louis, as Beau's "fat friend," the Prince of Wales, gives a picture of a royal boob that is worthy of Emil Jannings. Louis is going to be starred in "Babbit," and so you may look forward to a treat. Irene Rich, as the Duchess, is her usual sweet self.
starring John Barrymore and Mary Astor
MOTION PICTURE CLASSIC
When the year has run its course -- with its output of pictures, we predict that "Beau Brummel" (Warner Brothers) will be cataloged among the chosen few, excellent enough to receive the high mark of merit. It serves as a personal triumph for John Barrymore -- for in the role of the dandy, he is an ideal choice -- and he paints the character in a colorful, faithful, and absorbing manner. We, who remember him undergoing a metamorphosis in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," discover here that he has moments when a transition of character is equally as great.
The story takes the famous fop from the days of his youthful escapades when he won the friendship of the Prince of Wales up to his death in a French hospital. And Barrymore's study is one of the finest achievements in pantomime.
There is effective drama in nearly every scene -- and the pathos mounts when this dramatic narrative depicts the dandy's life from youthful splendor to raving madness and death in a prison almshouse.
The play originally served as an expression for Richard Mansfield. As a picture, it keeps intact all of its appealing elements. It is richly mounted -- the details being correct. And it exudes a fine, old atmosphere. In passing, we will record the picturesque study of Wales by Willard Louis. Mary Astor is the heroine and quite different in appeal from the Mary Astor we have heretofore known, but no less beautiful and appealing. But it is Barrymore who makes it memorable.
starring John Barrymore and Mary Astor
An absorbingly interesting picture, from the famous play by Clyde Fitch in which Richard Mansfield made such as success. The title role is in the hands of John Barrymore and permits him to give one of the finest performances of his screen career. Brummel, disappointed in love, determines to advance himself by sheer insolence, and does so until he loses the friendship of his patron, the Prince of Wales. He is exiled from England and dies in a French hospital. Mr. Barrymore's performance is masterful always. His expressions, his mannerisms, depict all shades from impertinence to the most studied insolence. The direction is excellent, and some of he photography is wonderful. Second only to the star are the performances given by Willard Louis as the Prince of Wales and Mary Astor as Lady Margery.
For more information, see "Beau Brummel" as our "Feature of the Month"
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