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Beau Ideal


An American (Ralph Forbes) joins the French Foreign Legion in order to rescue a boyhood friend.

| writer = Paul Schofield (screenwriter) (screenplay)<br>Elizabeth Meehan (adaptation) <br>Marie Halvey (dialogue)< name=TCM></>
| based on =
| narrator =
| starring = Ralph Forbes<br>Loretta Young<br>Irene Rich<br>Lester Vail
| music = Max Steiner< name=TFD122230></>
| cinematography = J. Roy Hunt< name=AFI />
| editing = Herbert Brenon< name=TFD113030></>
| studio = RKO Radio Pictures
| distributor = RKO Radio Pictures
| released = </>|2=< name=AFI />}}
| runtime = 82 minutes<br>79 minutes (Canada, Ontario)< name=Theiapolis></>
| country = USA
| language = English
| budget = $707,000
| gross = $575,000< name="rko"/>
| preceded_by =
| followed_by =
| website =
Beau Ideal is a 1931 American adventure film directed by Herbert Brenon and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film was based on the adventure novel, Beau Ideal, by P C Wren, the third novel in a series of five novels based around the same characters. Brenon had directed the first in the series, Beau Geste (1926 film), which was a very successful silent film in 1926. The screenplay was adapted from Wren's novel by Paul Schofield (screenwriter), who had also written the screenplay for the 1926 Beau Geste, with contributions from Elizabeth Meehan and Marie Halvey.
The film starred Ralph Forbes (reprising his role as John Geste from the 1926 film, Beau Geste), Loretta Young, Irene Rich, and Lester Vail, however it was neither a critical nor financial success. Although the film was not a success, it did introduce two technological advancements to film: the concentrator microphone and the Dunning process.

Plot summary

File:Lester Vail-Paul McAllister in Beau Ideal.jpg
The last two surviving members of a French Foreign Legion detachment consigned to a grain pit in the desert await death. The two soldiers who know each other as Smith and Brown recognize each other as the childhood friends, John Geste (Ralph Forbes) and Lester Vail (Otis Madison), respectively.
The two flashback to their boyhood friendship in England, followed by Otis' return to England and discovery that John has joined the French Foreign Legion. Otis also learns that Isobel Landon (Loretta Young), who is enamored with, is betrothed to John. Despite this betrothal, he vows to follow John to Africa and return him to England. Upon his arrival in Africa, Otis, through a series of coincidences, ends up in the same penal detail as John, which puts them both in the pit where the film begins.
Back in the present, as they are about to die, they are miraculously rescued by a passing band of Arabs. Unknown to the two friends is that the Arabs intend to use them as bait to draw their fellow legionnaires into a death trap. Fortunately for the friends, the girlfriend of the Emir, Zuleika (Leni Stengel), also known as "the Angel of Death", is attracted to Otis. After Otis agrees to marry her, Zuleika informs him of the impending attack by the Arabs, and then helps Otis and John to escape. The two legionnaires race to the fort, and help to repel the Arab attack, which earns both of them their freedom.
After Otis is relieved of his matrimonial duties to the exotic Zuleika, whose romantic attention has moved on from him to Major LeBaudy (Hale Hamilton), Otis and John return to England, where John relinquishes his claim on Isobel, clearing the way for Otis to marry her.


File:Leni Stengel as Zuleika, in Beau Ideal (1931).jpg as Zuleika, in Beau Ideal (1931)}}}
  • Frank McCormack as Carl Neyer
  • Ralph Forbes as John Geste
  • Lester Vail as Otis Madison
  • Otto Matieson as Jacob Levine
  • Don Alvarado as Ramon Gonzales
  • Bernard Siegel (actor) as Ivan Badineff
  • Irene Rich as Lady Brandon
  • Myrtle Stedman as Mrs. Frank Madison
  • Loretta Young as Isobel Brandon
  • John St. Polis as Judge Advocate
  • Joseph De Stefani as Prosecuting Attorney
  • Paul McAllister as Sergeant Frederic
  • Hale Hamilton as Major Laboudy
  • George Regas as The Emir
  • Leni Stengel as Zuleika - the "Angel of Death"
(Cast list as per AFI database)</> RKO purchased the rights to the novel in July 1930,<></> and Herbert Brenon, who had directed Beau Geste, became the first person attached to the project.<></>
In August it was announced that Ralph Forbes would reprise his role of John Geste, which he had originated in the original film.<></>
In the beginning of September it was announced that Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. would have a leading role in the film, on loan from Warner Brothers; also announced to the cast were Ralph Forbes and Leni Stengel.<></> In September 1930, RKO hired an Arab chieftain, Abdeslam ben Mohammed, as a technical consultant for the film. Initial reports also indicated that he would appear in the film, but no sources credit him with appearing.<></><></> By mid-September, however, Fairbanks, originally scheduled to play the role of Otis Madison, was recalled by Warner Brothers prior to the start of filming, so that he could star in a scheduled sequel to The Dawn Patrol (1930 film) (which was never made).<></> He was replaced by Lester Vail, who was making his screen debut.<></><></><></> Vail had a very short-lived career, making a total of only eight films in 1931 and 1932.<></>
Also in September, it was decided that the film would use the same location as the earlier Geste film, in Yuma, Arizona.<></> Besides the Yuma location, some location filming was done in the Sonora Desert in Mexico,< name=TFD102230></> as well as studio work on the RKO lot in Hollywood. Later in September, Otto Matieson, Paul McAllister, Hale Hamilton, and Don Alvarado were announced as joining the cast.<></><></> Ray Lissner, who was the assistant director on this picture, also wrote the only song in the film, the marching song of the French Foreign Legion,<></> however it appears the song did not appear in the final version of the film.</>
Production on the film began in late September 1930,<></> and would finish in late October.<></> In addition to Brenon directing and Schofield writing both films, J. Roy Hunt was the cinematographer on both the 1926 Beau Geste and this film.</> Max Steiner would finish the score for the film by December 22, 1930.< name=TFD122230 />


The film recorded a loss of $330,000.< name="rko"/>
Mordaunt Hall, film critic for the New York Times, gave the film a poor review, calling it "...scarcely a tribute to the audible screen".< name=nyt></> According to some sources, the film was considered "...the most wretched picture turned out by the studio in what was, generally, to be a very poor year."< name=RKO></> Variety (magazine) also gave it a less than favorable review, calling it "ordinary program stuff."<></> However other reviews were much more favorable, with The Film Daily calling it a "Stupendous Foreign Legion production with stout direction and excellent photography". They criticized the story as weak, but also praised the acting of the mostly male cast, and singled out Loretta Young's strong performance.<></> And Photoplay magazine called the a "spectacular sequel to Beau Geste, and complimented the acting.<></>


The second novel in Wren's series, Beau Sabreur, had been produced by Paramount Pictures in 1928. The film starred Gary Cooper, Evelyn Brent, Noah Beery and William Powell, and was directed by John Waters.< name=AFI2></>
Two new technological improvements were inaugurated in this film. The "Dunning Process" was used to adapt the film for foreign-language versions.<></> The concentrator microphone was developed by RKO to be used in productions to filter noise in exterior shots, was first used during this film's production. See Note #60, pg. 143</>

See also

  • List of films in the public domain in the United States

  • Category:1931 films
    Category:American films
    Category:1930s romance films
    Category:1930s adventure films
    Category:War films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:Films based on military novels
    Category:French Foreign Legion in popular culture
    Category:RKO Pictures films
    William LeBaron

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