Beau Brummell (1954 film)

Beau Brummell is a 1954 American-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 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.

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

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




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]

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 materialised.[6]


In March 1951, MGM announced they would make a film from Fitch's play as a vehicle for Stewart Granger, who had just made King Solomon's Mines 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 assigner to write the script.[8]

Filming was pushed back to enable Granger to make other films including The Prisoner of Zenda, Young Bess, Scaramouche, All the Brothers Were Valiant, and Robinson Crusoe. (The last one wound up not being 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 existence of a Mexican film 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]

Box office

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.[21]

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

Critical reception and legacy

Granger did not like the film.[22]

However, in recent years the film has attained a considerable cult status and popularity, largely because of the story of British high society in the colorful Napoleonic and Regency Eras and because of memorable performances by Granger, Taylor, Ustinov, and Morley as "Mad King George III". It is frequently shown on classic movie channels.

Historical accuracy

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. "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 (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 (9047). New South Wales, Australia. 28 December 1946. p. 10. Retrieved 24 April 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  7. Brady, Thomas F. (2 Mar 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 Apr 1952). "'Young Bess' Gets Green Light for July Start; Veterans Set for Roles". Los Angeles Times. p. 7.
  10. Hopper, Hedda (14 Jan 1953). "Looking at Hollywood: Granger and Eleanor Parker Will Co-Star in 'Beau Brummel'". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A4.
  11. Hopper, Hedda (15 Apr 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 Bruinmell". The Sun (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 Nov 1953). "Drama: Tracy in Big Loanout; Jaeckel Winning Break; Burnett Story Bought". Los Angeles Times. p. A13.
  18. 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 Brummel'". New York Times. 16 Nov 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. Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France at Box Office Story
  22. Smith, Cecil (8 June 1958). "Grangers Staking All on Life as Ranchers: Ranching Suits the Grangers". Los Angeles Times. p. E1.
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