Beau Geste (1939 film)

1939 film by William A. Wellman

Beau Geste is a 1939 film about Michael "Beau" Geste who leaves England in disgrace and joins the infamous French Foreign Legion. He is reunited with his two brothers in North Africa, where they face greater danger from their own sadistic commander than from the rebellious Arabs. The film is a virtual scene-for-scene remake of the 1926 silent version of the same title starring Ronald Colman.

Directed by William A. Wellman. Written by Robert Carson, based on the novel by P. C. Wren.
Three against the world...brothers and soldiers all! (taglines)

Beau Geste

  • [about the Blue Water gem] It looks like a piece of sky that has become solid, with sunlight imprisoned in it. Cold sunlight, cold as the unhappiness it has brought so many people.
  • [in a letter] Dear Dig:
    The Blue Water and my blue eyes go so well together that I couldn't resist taking it. I have no intention of sharing the loot, so don't follow me.

Sergeant Markoff

  • Discipline makes the strength of armies. It is necessary that superiors obtain from their subordinates immediate obedience without murmuring. Discipline will be firm but it will also be fatherly. Officers must use psychology when dealing with men. Any questions about the regulations? I am Sgt. Markoff. I make soldiers out of scum like you, and I don't do it gently. You're the sloppiest looking lot I've ever seen. It's up to me to prevent you from becoming a disgrace to the regiment. And I will prevent that if I have to kill half of you with work. But the half that lives will be soldiers - I promise you.
  • The punishment for desertion is death by the firing squad. But I'm going to be merciful. You can escape again...I insist that you escape!...[To the scouts] Drive them out where you found them. And keep them away from the oasis. [Turning back with a scowl toward the legionnaires] Any more of you want to desert? If you do, you can go now. I won't stop you. Later, you may wish you'd taken my offer, I promise you.
  • The attempt at mutiny is over, my children. You bungled it so much it wasn't really a mutiny. But you'll be punished as though it were. And now, you scum! It's my turn. I'm going to give you a lesson in putting down an attempted mutiny that'll be the last thing you'll ever see. Maybe this will make you die happy. Markoff thanks you. When he's an officer and has the Legion of Honor, he'll think often of the stupid, blundering pigs that put him where he is.
  • Keep shooting, you scum! You'll get a chance yet to die with your boots on!
  • [propping up dead bodies] Everybody does his duty - and soon enough. Dead or alive. We'll make those Arabs think we got a thousand men. The rest of the bullets you stop won't hurt as much as that first one.
  • [as the Arabs flee] Look at them. They come when I want them, and they go when I don't need them anymore. They're beaten, but they've put down a mutiny for me. They've given me the Legion of Honor, and they've made me an officer!

Lady Patricia

  • Beau Geste? Gallant gesture. We didn't name him wrongly, did we?


Young Beau: That's what I want when my turn comes. I'd give anything to have a Viking's funeral... with a dog at my feet and 'last post' blown for me. If it weren't too much trouble.
Young Digby: Beau, it isn't too much trouble. I'll give you one whenever you like.

Lady Patricia: [after the Blue Water is stolen] I'm very much afraid someone is lying...Whatever the humor or the joke, it's rather bad taste to put on it. I think we're agreed on that. Perhaps our humorist wouldn't mind returning the Blue Water the way he got it - in the darkness. Turn off the lights, Isobel...Whoever took the Blue Water has had his chance. I don't want a scandal at Brandon Abbas. I will leave the box on the table until morning. If the Blue Water is not back by then, of course I shall have to call the police. Good night.
John: Have we a magician here?
Digby: Or is Brandon Abbas haunted?

Lt. Martin: I just witnessed that little exhibition of yours, Markoff. I don't like it!
Markoff: You have to be strict with scum like that, sir.
Lt. Martin: They're men. They have their rights, guaranteed within the regulations.
Markoff: I'll keep within the regulations, sir.
Lt. Martin: You're a good soldier, Markoff, but I doubt if you're a good sergeant. If you're not, you won't last long in the Legion. Watch your step, or I'll break you!

John: Well, isn't anybody going to say a word?
Beau: You young pup, we're both so disgusted with you we're speechless.
John: I'm no worse than either of you.
Digby: There's something in what he says.
Beau: I insist I'm worse than he is. He didn't steal the Blue Water.
John: Neither did you.
Digby: No. As a matter of fact, I've got it.
Beau: I'll be frank with you, gentlemen. I've got it. I intend to sell it for 30,000 pounds sometime in the future, and live a life of ease in Paris surrounded by whiskey, ladies, and laughter.
Digby: Well that's funny. I'm going to sell it and go to Paris, too. Only I don't want any laughter.
Beau: One thing I counted on was my younger brother leading an upright life while I spent my ill-gotten gains.
Digby: Yes, I was counting on him, too.
John: If you don't mind my saying so, the great sapphire is in my possession. And as soon as I can arrange to sell it, I'm going to the South Seas, buy a plantation, and start trading in copra.
Digby: He puts us both to shame, doesn't he, Beau?
Beau: Let's put him to death and keep his share.

Markoff: Make sure you're telling me the truth.
Rasinoff: I am. I am!
Markoff: You know, I think I can help you get that jewel.
Rasinoff: Well, that's what I hoped.
Markoff: [sarcastically] I'm sure you did. In a week, we go to relieve the garrison at Fort Zinderneuf. It can be arranged there.
Rasinoff: But there are three of them and two friends.
Markoff: Some of the company go to Fort Tokotu for mounted infantry training. It can be arranged. And if there's no jewel, you'll get a wooden jewel box. I promise you.
Rasinoff: But he has it, I'm sure of it.

Markoff: How do you feel tonight, Lieutenant?
Lt. Martin: I'm dying.
Markoff: I hope not, sir.
Lt. Martin: I'm going to die. I'll be buried under the sand and forgotten. When I was a little boy, I thought soldiers always died in battles. I didn't know there were so many soldiers... and so few battles... and so many fevers. Get word to Beaujolais at Tokotu. Have him send another officer. You'll be in command until then...The men must be led, not driven. Remember, you'll answer to the man who takes my place...

Schwartz: Don't tell me he took your appetites away. He'll take more than that away before long. Glock, go to the door, warn us if anyone comes. Markoff has been asking for it, and now he's going to get it.
Maris: Can't you see a mutiny is what Markoff wants? If he puts it down, he'll be a hero.
Schwartz: And you're the one who would help him put it down, Maris.
Maris: Let him hang himself. Lt. Martin's death gives him enough rope. When his superior officers learn what he's already done, he'll go to prison for life!
Schwartz: Listen to our little Sergeant-lover. Our troubles are all over if we bring Markoff a bunch of posies every morning. You don't want to stay here and die like rats in a trap, do you?
The men: No!
Schwartz: And let that madman squeeze every drop of blood out of you and drive you out on the desert like he did Renouf and Renault, do you?
The men: No!
Schwartz: We're 50 against one. How long are you going to keep on licking the boots that kick you? Those stripes on his sleeve won't stop a rifle bullet. Let's get him now!
Legionnaire: I'm with you!
Maris: You fools! Don't listen to him! He'll never get away with it!
Schwartz: Shut up, you yellow liver!
Beau: Wait a minute. I don't know much about mutinies, but I do know it isn't good form to plan them at the top of your voice.
Schwartz: Where do you stand?
Beau: Well, I don't like Markoff, but also I don't like you.
John: Make it 4.
Schwartz: Who else? These 3 won't bother us.
Legionnaire: Rasinoff?
Schwartz: He's with Markoff, and he goes with Markoff.
Maris: After you kill Markoff, what?
Schwartz: We'll get out of this hole, and we go to Morocco.
Maris: Markoff has two Arab scouts outside. The minute they see anything's wrong, they'll ride to Tokotu for help.
Schwartz: We'll have too much of a start.
Maris: Not for the camel corps.
Legionnaire: Talk, talk, talk! Let's decide!
Schwartz: You're right. All those with me, on your feet! [to Beau] I give you one more chance to change your mind.
Beau: Schwartz, there'll be a flag flying out there in the morning that I swore to uphold. Armies of good men have died for it, gladly. It's a battle flag and it's a flag of victory. I'm rather proud to be under it. And I wouldn't want to go out in the morning like you and know that I was going to be a traitor to it.

John: Charming fellow, our Sergeant.
Beau: A trifle uncouth. But the best soldier we'll ever see.

Beau: I remember ghastly Gussie said one time, 'The Gestes always stick together.'
John: Digby's probably on his way here now.
Beau: He'd better be. John, somebody always gets out of these things. It might be you.
John: 'The Gestes always stick together.'
Beau: Well, if they shouldn't, would you do me a favor?
John: Of course.
Beau: Thanks. In my coat, I have two letters in a packet. One letter in the packet goes to my Aunt Pat. The other letter stays here with me.
John: All right.
Beau: Could I do you a favor if, uh, things happen to be the other way around?
John: Just tell Isobel that, just tell her something.
Beau: Older brother takes care of everything, I promise you.

Markoff: The jewel you stole. I want it.
Beau: I have no jewel.
Markoff: I know you have.
Beau: I haven't.
Markoff: Are you sure?
Beau: Quite sure.
Markoff: I advise you to change your mind. Otherwise, when this is over, I may have to shoot you to make sure.
Beau: I understand, Sergeant.
Markoff: You mean you'd rather not hand it over now and save your life?
Beau: No, Sergeant.
Markoff: That's very unfortunate... for you.


  • Three against the world...brothers and soldiers all!
  • AGAIN...the three Gestes face a thousand dangers of the Sahara for each other...and love!


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