Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day Seventy-two - The Last Remake of Beau Geste, or "Those Beef Jerky Scars Mess With Me"

Marty Feldman's directorial feature The Last Remake of Beau Geste, itself a meta joke on the thrice-made film about British gentry in the French Foreign Legion (though we're going on how many reboots of movies and series of late?), is another one of those movies that I saw as a kid but never understood until I rewatched it again as an adult.

There's plenty of innuendo that went right over my head, and I didn't quite understand how awesome it was to have brief inserts of the old Gary Cooper version with Marty playing it off so naturally.

Seeing it now, though, I'm of mixed feelings.

I want to love it intensely for those brief moments of genius, such as the Gary Cooper mirage scene and the silent movie prison escape, but there are so many other moments that are just plain dumb... like the first Legion roll call which sort of limps along unironically with Peter Ustinov's peg leg. One or two decent jokes are overshadowed by the terrible sight gags and odd inferences by both the COs and NCOs.

Even as a kid, I knew it wasn't quite to the level of Blazing Saddles and its kin, but it was certainly better than Smokey and the Bandit and its ilk of "just one step above television" films. Still, going back to check it out of Netflix, I have to wonder about the rumored director's cut.

The majority of the film is just location progression. Nothing ever really delves into the meat of the relationships. We know Digby (Feldman) is a willing sacrifice for Beau's (Michael York) Hero Journey, but there's never really any arc. The closest we get is Beau's pseudo-incestuous attraction for the nominal villainess of the film, Flavia (Ann-Margret).

There's also a lack of balance concerning the side characters. What promised to be an amazingly interesting character, James Earl Jones' Anglicized Sheik, is shuffled off with paltry few gags, even if the final bit is a great bit of film humor. Pretty much the same can be said for Henry Gibson and Avery Schreiber. They're given gimmicks in the vein of a Brooks film, but aren't really given the support or continuity they should. When folks should be coming back, they're sent off into the sunset, and if they do happen to return, they're basically forgotten until the moment they reappear.

Now, it should be said that The Last Remake is occasionally funny, but I was never laughing out loud... and it has some genius moments that are broken up by the rest of the film's mediocrity.

It's something to see to get out of your system for another twenty years or so. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to pass over and dismiss.

And I really do need to track down that director's cut. Ah well.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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