Although unknown to most today, George “Beau” Brummel was a real-life iconic figure in Regency England due to his friendship with future King George IV along with some innovative fashion choices. Playwright Clyde Fitch adapted his life into a play in 1890, which was subsequently adapted into a silent film in 1924 starring John Barrymore. Many studios attempted to adapt this work into a sound-era film over the next couple of decades, but it was MGM that scored the rights and finally released Beau Brummell in 1954. The film stars a debonair Stewart Granger (Scaramouche) as the titular character, Elizabeth Taylor (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) as Lady Patricia, Peter Ustinov (Spartacus) as the Prince of Wales, and Robert Morley (The African Queen) as King George III.
In nineteenth century England, Captain George “Beau” Brummell is a sophisticated dandy that is forced to leave the army after his straightforward outspokenness leads him to offend the Prince of Wales. At the same time, he catches the eye of the enchanting Lady Patricia, who is torn between a potential budding romance and the security of the path that has been laid out in front of her. Beau starts a smear campaign against the Prince, but, in an unlikely turn of events, eventually befriends the Prince and becomes a close, personal advisor. Although the romantic possibilities with Lady Patricia are given their due spotlight, it is the burgeoning friendship between Beau and the Prince that is the heart of this movie. Peter Ustinov brings a sweet sympathy to the role of the Prince, and seeing the affect Beau has on him and the society at large is quite compelling. Dialogue, rather than action, is the driving force of this movie, with witty back-and-forth exchanges serving as the main course for this story.
The film focuses on the life of a real individual, but it does not concern itself with being wholly accurate to the events as they actually transpired. Elizabeth Taylor uses her glamour and endless charisma to bring life to Lady Patricia, but this character is an amalgamation of several different women that were central to Brummel’s life. The climax of the film delves heavily into fiction, but it provides an emotional conclusion that pays respect to the true friendship that developed between Beau and the Prince of Wales. With its beautiful cinematography, stellar cast and smart, lively script, Beau Brummell proves to be an entertaining gem from the 1950s.
This Blu-Ray of Beau Brummell is sourced from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative that proves to be truly stunning. There are some establishing and long shots that do not look to be in the greatest shape, presumably due to the source material, but these are brief moments in an otherwise beautiful presentation. The colors really pop off the screen and the contrast seems to be evenly balanced with no noticeable blooming or black crush. There is a healthy amount of natural film grain and no major instances of print damage. Warner Archive once again provides a beautiful restoration that fans of the movie will applaud.
This Blu-Ray provides a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track that does a great job of balancing all of the dialogue with the original score and background effects. Even lively crowd scenes hold up well with dialogue remaining crisp and clear throughout. There are thankfully no sync issues or high-end clipping that we observed. As with the video, the audio is a great presentation that accurately represents how the film was intended to sound.
- Theatrical Trailer: The original unrestored and nearly four-minute trailer is presented here and showcases how much the 4K restoration improved the film presentation.
Beau Brummell is a film that has largely been lost to history as a film only known to the most avid of cinephiles, but Warner Archive has rescued it and given it a top-notch technical presentation on Blu-Ray. The film produces some very memorable performances from its cast and is presented in beautiful Technicolor. Those looking for an entertaining costume drama should definitely check this out sooner rather than later. Recommended
Beau Brummell can be purchased directly through Warner Archive or various other online retailers.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.