Beau Brummell (1954 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Beau Brummell
Beau brummell.jpeg
Original French film poster
Directed byCurtis Bernhardt
Written byKarl Tunberg
Based onBeau Brummel
1890 play
by Clyde Fitch
Produced bySam Zimbalist
StarringStewart Granger
Peter Ustinov
Elizabeth Taylor
Robert Morley
CinematographyOswald Morris
Edited byFrank Clarke
Music byRichard Addinsell
Miklós Rózsa
Distributed byLoew's, Inc
Release date
  • 1 October 1954 (1954-10-01)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$1.8 million[1]
Box office$2.7 million[1]

Beau Brummell is a 1954 British historical film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by Curtis Bernhardt and produced by Sam Zimbalist from a screenplay by Karl Tunberg, based on the 1890 play Beau Brummell by Clyde Fitch. The play was previously adapted as a silent film made in 1924 and starring John Barrymore as Beau Brummell, Mary Astor, and Willard Louis as the Prince of Wales.

The music score was by Richard Addinsell with Miklós Rózsa. The film stars Stewart Granger as Beau Brummell, Elizabeth Taylor as Lady Patricia Belham, and Peter Ustinov as the Prince of Wales.


Set in the latter years of the reign of King George III, George Bryan “Beau” Brummell - a captain in the Army, is on a military parade inspected by George, The Prince of Wales - the future King George IV, and they argue about the uniform being impractical for active military life. It is here he meets Lady Patricia Belham, who was accompanying Mrs Maria Anne Fitzherbert, the mistress of the Prince. As it is the Prince who has designed the uniform personally, the Prince instructs Brummell to get off parade and after a further argument at dinner, Brummell is dismissed from the Army in disgrace.

Upon entering life outside of the Army, Brummell makes his criticisms known of the Prince publicly and his comments are published in the newspapers. He is subsequently summonsed to the Prince to be admonished personally, but after some discussion, they in fact become friends. As a friend and close advisor of the Prince of Wales (despite being the son of a valet), Brummell becomes a fashionable man in London society, known for his exquisite taste and setting fashion trends among the elite. However, he is growing increasingly in debt.

Brummell initially sees the friendship as the path to wealth and position, and in due course the Prince promises to make Brummell an earl. Meanwhile, Lady Patricia has fallen secretly in love with Brummell, despite being betrothed to the less exciting Lord Edwin Mercer (another friend and advisor of the Prince), but he has wealth, rank and position - everything Brummell does not have. Brummell convinces the Prince to see his father - King George III, who has been mentally unwell in Windsor Castle to try and break the influence of William Pitt, the Prime Minister. However, Lady Patricia finally decides to marry Lord Edwin and break with Brummell and following Mrs Fitzherbert's decision to leave England, the Prince becomes more and more unhappy.

Parliament offers the Prince the opportunity of a Regency which would give him the power to administer the Royal Marriages Act (meaning as he exercised the powers of the Sovereign, he could legally marry Mrs Fitzherbert), but without the power to grant peerages. Brummell advises the Prince to not accept the Regency, and Lord Edwin (who was aware of Lady Patricia's former love for Brummell) speaks out against Brummell. The Prince and Brummell argue and he accuses Brummell that he has ulterior motives and is only interested in getting a title and has advised him poorly. As news of the Prince and Brummell's disagreement becomes public, so does his spiralling debts. At a society ball (which he has to attend to try and keep his creditors thinking that he still has influence at Court), Brummell publicly insults the Prince, despite Mrs Fitzherbert and Lord Byron trying to broker a reconciliation, and he is forced to flee to France to avoid his creditors.

The Prince subsequently succeeds to the Throne as King George IV and plans a State Visit to France, where Brummell has fled living penniless in very modest lodgings. Deeply in debt, unwell and out of favour, Brummell decides to write his memoirs - but once he realizes that the book will embarrass the new King, Brummell destroys it, acknowledging his friendship with the King was still more important than the £20,000 offered by the publisher. Whilst he lay dying, Brummell is visited by the new King. They both regret their rift and have a heartfelt reconciliation moments before Brummell's death.




Clyde Fitch's play was written in 1890 as a vehicle for Richard Mansfield.

In 1934, there were two Beau Brummel projects announced. One was based on Fitch's play, to be made by Warner Bros., starring Leslie Howard. The other was produced by Edward Small starring Robert Donat.[2] Neither film materialized.

Rights in the play went to MGM. In March 1939, they announced that Robert Donat would star in Beau Brummel to be made in London. Joseph Mankiewicz would produce.[3][4] Filming was postponed due to the war. In March 1941, MGM said Clarence Brown would direct an adaptation of Fitch's play in London, starring Donat.[5] However this film was never made.

In 1946, there was plans to make a British film about Brummel, which never materialized.[6]


In March 1951, MGM announced they would make a film from Fitch's play as a vehicle for Stewart Granger, who had starred in King Solomon's Mines (1950) for the studio and been signed to a long-term contract. The producer would be Sam Zimbalist, who produced Mines. It was the follow the filming of The Light Touch.[7] In June John Lee Mahin was assigned to write the script.[8]

Filming was pushed back to enable Granger to make other films including Scaramouche, The Prisoner of Zenda (both 1952), All the Brothers Were Valiant, Young Bess (both 1953), and Robinson Crusoe. (The last project was not made).[9]

In January 1953, Hedda Hopper announced the film would star Granger and Eleanor Parker who had just teamed successfully on Scaramouche.[10] In April, Deborah Kerr was announced.[11]

As late as May 1953, Granger was still expected to make Robinson Crusoe before Beau Brummell.[12] The same month, Gottfried Reinhardt was assigned to direct.[13] Robinson Crusoe was postponed due to the release of the Mexican film based on the novel. In July, Parker was still to be the co-star.[14]

In July 1953, Kirk Douglas announced he would star as Brummell in his own Brummell project, to be called The Beau.[15] However, it was not made.

In September 1953, Dore Schary, head of MGM, gave the job of directing to Curtis Bernhardt.[16] By November 1953, Karl Tunberg was working on the script and he would receive sole credit.[17]


Filming began in London on 15 November 1953.[18]



The film was given a Royal Command Film Performance in London in November 1954 where it was shown to an audience of 10,000 including Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.[19] Some criticized this as being in bad taste as the film featured scenes depicting George III, an ancestor of the Queen, being insane.[20] Granger did not like the film.[21]


According to MGM records the film earned $1,049,000 in the US and $1,652,000 elsewhere. In France, it recorded admissions of 634,778.[22]

The film recorded a loss of $383,000.[1]

Historical accuracy[edit]

The film ends with a deathbed reconciliation between a dying Brummell and the Prince, who as George IV is passing through Le Havre between his British and Hanoverian kingdoms. There is no record the king met Brummell again after the latter fled, in debt, to France in 1816 and in any case the scene is an anachronism; Brummell died at Caen in 1840 having survived George by almost ten years.

Elizabeth Taylor's character was a combination of several women in Brummell's life.[18]


  1. ^ a b c "The Eddie Mannix Ledger", Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study, Los Angeles
  2. ^ Winfield Sheehan, Columbus of Film Talent, Announces New "Find Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 17 Oct 1934: 11.
  3. ^ "M-G-M Schedules 52 New Pictures". New York Times. 21 March 1939. p. 31.
  4. ^ "Robert Donat's Work And Plans". The Herald. No. 19, 338. Victoria, Australia. 11 May 1939. p. 42. Retrieved 24 April 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "Screen News Here and in Hollywood". New York Times. 24 July 1941. p. 15.
  6. ^ "1947: Busiest Year In British Films". The Newcastle Sun. No. 9047. New South Wales, Australia. 28 December 1946. p. 10. Retrieved 24 April 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ Brady, Thomas F. (2 March 1951). "Paramount Buys Odets' New Play: Studio Acquires 'Country Girl' for Reported $150,000 Film to Follow Run on Stage Of Local Origin". New York Times. p. 22.
  8. ^ Brady, Thomas F. (2 June 1951). "Kirk Douglas Set for 'Big Sky' Lead: Hawks and Lasker to Produce Film of A.B. Guthrie Jr. Fur Trading Novel at R.K.O. Of Local Origin". New York Times. p. 13.
  9. ^ Schallert, Edwin (19 April 1952). "'Young Bess' Gets Green Light for July Start; Veterans Set for Roles". Los Angeles Times. p. 7.
  10. ^ Hopper, Hedda (14 January 1953). "Looking at Hollywood: Granger and Eleanor Parker Will Co-Star in 'Beau Brummel'". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A4.
  11. ^ Hopper, Hedda (15 April 1953). "Looking at Hollywood: Signing Up of Fresh Talent Shows Studios' Optimism". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. B2.
  12. ^ Hopper, Hedda (5 May 1953). "Looking at Hollywood: Stewart Granger Will Star in 'Robinson Crusoe' Film". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A2.
  13. ^ Schallert, Edwin (8 May 1953). "Marie Wilson, Robert Cummings Costar; Ladd Named for 'Last Train'". Los Angeles Times. p. B11.
  14. ^ 'Mail Order Bride' New Taylor-Parker Project; Roman on Carousel Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 11 July 1953: A7.
  15. ^ "Douglas to act Beau Brummell". The Sun. No. 2622. New South Wales, Australia. 26 July 1953. p. 53. Retrieved 24 April 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  16. ^ 'Dark Watch' Proposed for Crain, Andrews; Ford and Grahame to Reunite Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 4 Sep 1953: B7.
  17. ^ Schallert, Edwin (23 November 1953). "Drama: Tracy in Big Loanout; Jaeckel Winning Break; Burnett Story Bought". Los Angeles Times. p. A13.
  18. ^ a b A. H. W. (4 October 1953). "By Way of Report". New York Times. ProQuest 112552485.
  19. ^ "Queen at Film Show: Attends Royal Performance in London of 'Beau Brummell'". New York Times. 16 November 1954. p. 31.
  20. ^ Hobson, Harold (8 December 1954). "The Arts and Other Things: Playing to Royal Command ...". The Christian Science Monitor. p. 13.
  21. ^ Smith, Cecil (8 June 1958). "Grangers Staking All on Life as Ranchers: Ranching Suits the Grangers". Los Angeles Times. p. E1.
  22. ^ Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France at Box Office Story

External links[edit]