Beau Brummell (1954): Curtis Bernhardt’s Historical Melodrama, Starring Stewart Granger, Elizabeth Taylor, and Peter Ustinov

Curtis Bernhardt directed this historical drama, produced by Sam Zimbalist from a script by Karl Tunberg, based on Clyde Fitch’s 1890 play, “Beau Brummell.”

In 1924, the material was adapted as a silent film, starring John Barrymore as Beau Brummell, Mary Astor, and Willard Louis as the Prince of Wales.

The 1954 film stars Stewart Granger as George Bryan “Beau” Brummell, Elizabeth Taylor as Lady Patricia Belham, and Peter Ustinov as the Prince of Wales.

This version ends with a deathbed reconciliation between a dying Brummell and the Prince, now as George IV.  The conclusion and other aspects were criticized for their lack of accuracy.  Brummell died at Caen in 1840, a decade after George.  Moreover, Taylor’s character was a composite of several women in Brummell’s life (and there is no chemistry between the two stars).

Production values are good, especially the music score was by Richard Addinsell with Miklós Rózsa.

The secondary cast includes Robert Morley as King George III, James Donald as Lord Edwin Mercer, James Hayter as Mortimer, and Rosemary Harris as Mrs. Maria Anne Fitzherbert.

The film was a commercial failure at the time, but repeated screenings on TV (I caught it on TCM) has gained it some following. There have not been many features about British high society in the Napoleonic and Regency eras.