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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD Region 2. Second Sight.

Last Remake of Beau GesteMarty Feldman appeared to have outstripped his 1960's TV contemporaries in the early 1970's when he graduated from forgettable British films like Every Home Should Have One to appearing in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein and Silent Movie. But by the end of the decade, he was no longer a critical darling, and had been surpassed by Monty Python in the cinema. Certainly, his last few films have a fairly poor reputation (In God We Trust, his last film as director, was a disaster), and so I found myself approaching his 1977 comedy The Last Remake of Beau Geste - a film that I'd missed on initial release and which then fell into relative obscurity -with some trepidation.

Certainly, the omens are bad. Although it had been filmed a few times, Beau Geste was hardly such a ubiquitous tale in 1977 that it warranted spoofing, and Feldman was a comedian with a tendency to self-indulgence. Yet to my surprise, this turned out to be a wonderful little movie.

Feldman - who co-wrote and directed as well as starring - plays Digby Geste, twin brother of Beau (Michael York), a dashing type who has been raised by his adoptive father (Trevor Howard, warming up for Sir Henry at Rawlinson End) to be a heroic soldier. When their father returns from a war with a new wife (Ann-Margaret), Beau steals the priceless family heirloom the Blue Water Sapphire and escapes to join the French Foreign Legion. Imprisoned for the crime, Digby finally escapes and joins his brother, followed by their voracious mother-in-law, who seduces everyone and anyone in order to get her hands on the jewel.

Last Remake of Beau GesteThe film has a wonderful cast of recognisable British faces - Terry-Thomas, Roy Kinnear, Spike Milligan, Irene Handl, Henry Gobson, Hugh Griffith - as well as Peter Ustinov and James Earl Jones (sporting a ridiculous British accent), and Feldman keeps the gags flowing, often breaking the fourth wall. Scenes where he interacts with clips from earlier black and white versions of the story are impressively done and amusing, and the main cast handle the comedy well - Ann-Margaret, in the sort of role normally filled by Madeline Kahn in 1970's comedies, is suitably lusty, and has the most eye-popping cleavage I've ever seen! Bizarrely, York and Feldman do look as though they could be brothers - though possibly not twins...

This previously hard to see film is certainly of its time - but that's no bad thing, given how many great comedy films emerged in the Seventies. Certainly, if you enjoy Brook's work of the period - or other Feldman efforts like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Bother - then this is always enjoyable and often hilarious film is well worth snapping up.





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