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Last Remake of Beau Geste, The

Kino // PG // March 16, 2021
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted March 3, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:
Even though Marty Feldman didn't become the household name for absurdist and boundary-pushing spoofs the way Mel Brooks has, partly due to his untimely passing at age 48, his throw the kitchen sink and let's see what sticks approach to comedy certainly deserves a second look. Feldman's of course known primarily for his iconic role as "Eye-gore" in Brooks' classic Young Frankenstein, which helped propel his unique blend of old fashioned slapstick and modern biting satire forward with projects like The Last Remake of Beau Geste, a wild cornucopia of self-aware comedy stylings packaged into a spoof of foreign legionnaire melodramas. Feldman's style can be described as a mix of Brooks and Monty Python, blended with the aura of Buster Keaton. It doesn't always work, but it's a worthy effort.
The plot follows the beats of Percival Christopher Wren's novel, Beau Geste, which has been adapted many times in Hollywood past, hence the tongue in cheek title here. The most famous of these adaptations is of course the 1939 one starring Gary Cooper, who "makes an appearance" with Feldman's Digby Geste via footage from that film, years before postmodern works like Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and Forrest Gump made it popular to integrate actors with old footage of famous people.


Feldman takes the overwrought melodrama of the source material, as well as the various old Hollywood adaptations, and raises the intensity level to a full-blown live-action cartoon, the manic pace of which might turn off some fans of Mel Brooks' more subdued approach to parody. Yet therein lies his film's most successful moments, which find a fine line between absolute chaos and meticulous joke building.


The Blu-ray:


Video:


Kino's 1080 transfer is the cleanest I've ever seen The Last Remake of Beau Geste, where the various earlier transfers full of scratches and muted colors deserved some attention. This isn't a restoration of sorts, so we still get some scratches and blemishes here and there. However, the bright yellow colors of the desert locations contrast clearly and crisply with the more colorful approach of the film's playful cinematography.


Audio:


The DTS-HD mono track doesn't really showcase a lot of range, and there's a bit too much of a discrepancy between the score/sfx and dialogue levels, so have your fingers handy on the volume buttons. This being said, the overall presentation is as clean as it gets without a remix.


Extras:


Commentary by Alan Spencer: Feldman's friend Spencer goes into great detail on the struggles Feldman had making the film and the differences between the studio demands and his vision.


Commentary by Bryan Reesman: The entertainment journalist gives a more broad commentary that covers the cast and crew.


Audio interview with Michael York: York digs into his fun memories making the film in this brief audio-only interview.


Trailers From Hell: Alan Spencer provides commentary on the film while the trailer plays.


We also get the Trailer without commentary, as well as four Radio Spots and three Image Galleries.


Final Thoughts:


Like the greatest hits of comedy, Feldman switches wildly between farce, parody, satire, spoof, and even a legitimately impressive throwback to Keaton's daredevil acts/supreme slapstick from the silent era. The tonal discrepancies don't always gel together, and the studio's famous interjections in the film's final cut showcase this lack of focus. Yet there are enough jokes and gags that land to have it work as at least a single watch for fans of the genre.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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