Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Three movie versions released in 1926, 1939, and 1966, as well as a television mini-series in 1982 and a 1977 parody, the aptly named The Last Remake of Beau Geste starring Marty Feldman and Michael York. The best known version was made in 1939 with Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston, Susan Hayward, Broderick Crawford, and Brian Donlevy. Donlevy was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Although minor plot points separate the versions, all of the versions share a common element of a stolen gem, which one of the Geste brothers, Beau Geste, is thought to have stolen from his adoptive family.
In the 1939 version, the gem has to be sold to raise money for a project of the never-seen household head, Lord Brandon, who has been spending money unwisely for some period of time. The three Geste brothers, now adults, have lived with the family since their childhood, and their patroness, Lady Brandon, brings out the gem for one last look before it is sold. Suddenly, the lights go out and the gem disappears. All the participants claim innocence, but all the brothers later confess to the crime to each other.
As the brothers are under suspicion for the theft, all three leave England and join the French Foreign Legion. While on duty in a fort in a remote part of the Sahara Desert, their evil Sergeant finds out about the theft and is convinced that Beau must have the gem with him. However, the fort is surrounded by hostile forces and most of the defenders are killed by the invaders, although the Sergeant and Beau manage to scare them off and survive. However, they later die at each other's hands. A relief force arrives with the other two brothers to find the fort intact, but all the defenders dead, and attempt to solve the mystery.
It is revealed that although Beau did steal the gem at the final unveiling, it was a fake. The real gem had been sold years before by Lady Brandon and Beau wanted to conceal this fact from Lord Brandon. Beau knew of the sale because as a child, he was hiding in a suit of armor when the buyer arrived to take the gem away.
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