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Beau Geste  /  The Light That Failed

June 21, 2015 - 7:00 pm
Frank Thompson, film historian; William Wellman Jr. He will sign copies of his book, "Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel" beginning at 6 p.m.

Beau Geste  (1939)

Director William A. Wellman reunited with Gary Cooper, one of the stars of Wings (1927), for this remake of the Ronald Colman silent adventure classic.  As the eponymous hero, Gary Cooper defends a beleaguered fort against Arab attackers.  The role conforms comfortably to the parameters of Cooper's mid-period star persona: Beau Geste is a paradigm of rugged yet restrained male virtue.  As Cooper's sadistic nemesis, Brian Donlevy fairly steals the scenes they share (and earned himself an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor).

Paramount Pictures, Inc.  (Production): William A. Wellman.  Director: William A. Wellman.  Screenwriter: Robert Carson.  Based on the novel by Percival Christopher Wren.  Cinematography: Theodor Sparkuhl.  Editor: Thomas Scott.  Cast: Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston, Brian Donlevy, Susan Hayward.  35mm, b/w, 120 min.

The Light That Failed  (1940)

Ida Lupino got her start in Hollywood with a series of ingenue parts in films like Search For Beauty (1934) and Smart Girl (1935) before landing her breakthrough role in this period drama based on the classic Kipling novel.  Ronald Colman stars as a newspaper illustrator who becomes an acclaimed artist after he's wounded by natives in a colonial misadventure.  Lupino plays the cockney bar maid who inspires Colman to paint her portrait, and it is here that she established the screen persona for which she would become best known: "the brittle, alone-in-the-world moll, outwardly tough and cynical, but ‘marshmallow’ on the inside" (Annette Kuhn).

Paramount Pictures, Inc.  Director: William A. Wellman.  Screenwriter: Robert Carson.  Based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling.  Cinematography: Theodore Sparkuhl.  Editor: Thomas Scott.  With: Ronald Colman, Walter Huston, Muriel Angelus, Ida Lupino, Dudley Digges.  35mm, b/w, 97 min.