A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Beau Brummel (Harry Beaumont, 1924)

Mary Astor and John Barrymore in Beau Brummel
George Bryan "Beau" Brummel: John Barrymore
Lady Margery Alvanley: Mary Astor
The Prince of Wales: Willard Louis
Lady Hester Stanhope: Carmel Myers
Duchess of York: Irene Rich
Mortimer: Alec B. Francis
Lord Alvanley: William Humphrey
Lord Stanhope: Richard Tucker
Lord Byron: George Beranger

Director: Harry Beaumont
Screenplay: Dorothy Farnum
Based on a play by Clyde Fitch
Cinematography: David Abel
Film editing: Howard Bretherton

The slow, stagy, and occasionally cheesy-looking costume drama was the film that lured John Barrymore away from Broadway to Hollywood. It's about the rise and fall of George Bryan Brummel (usually spelled with two l's) in the court of the Prince of Wales, later Prince Regent and then George IV. Barrymore gets to load on the old age makeup -- which makes him look startlingly like his brother, Lionel -- as the film goes on. The supporting cast plays a gaggle of semihistorical figures who are mostly there for atmosphere; I was surprised, for example, to discover that the rather ordinary fellow limping around in the background was supposed to be Lord Byron. None of the film's history can be trusted, of course, so there's really not much to be said about it other than that Barrymore chews the scenery with aplomb and that the 18-year-old Mary Astor is pleasant to look at.

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