Sunday, March 19, 2006

Geste Mission Completed

In my seemingly never-ending quest to work my way through my list of unwatched DVDs, I've finally finished Geste. Two of the Geste brothers (played by Gary Cooper and Ray Milland) end up in some God-forsaken desert fort (Robert Preston, as the third Geste, is sent to Hell and back with another regiment, or something). Unfortunately for Cooper and Milland, they're forced to stand by helplessly for the rest of the picture as Brian Donlevy comes on the scene to steal the film portraying Markoff, the meanest, toughest sergeant this side of a domesticated Joan Crawford. At first Markoff's behavior causes dissension among the boys, who can almost be heard to whisper, "That was no gentleman, that was my officer." However, the sergeant earns the respect of his men because, similar to Crawford at home facing a dilemma involving unnecessary wire hangers, when the chips are down and the fort is under siege, he knows how to spring into action and get things done.

Entertaining, often exciting picture (and the tempo really picks up in the film's final forty-five minutes) directed by the peerless William Wellman. My only reservations are the film could've used a little more humor, along the lines of the same year's Gunga Din, and, although the brothers are a fairly glamourous trio, the movie plays the butch card a little too often. I mean, in this bunch, Halston or Calvin Klein would've died for lack of a fashion statement- maybe Preston's little-seen troop was more stylish. Donlevy is terrific and won an Oscar nomination for his work; a very young and beautiful Susan Hayward and a very, very young Donald O'Connor can also be seen briefly.

Now I'm biting the Bullitt with Steve McQueen. Although I've only seen a few McQueen films I love his work, as he knows when to play it "cool" and keep his mouth shut. This adds immensely to my home-viewing experience, as I own a regular T.V. with so-so sound, and therefore I often find myself re-playing scenes in an effort to find out what the hell I missed, dialogue-wise (I'm convinced I may have missed a line on which the entire plot revolves, although I'm usually-no, always- wrong on this point and yes, I have dealt with Obsessive-Compulsive behavior in my life). With the action-oriented McQueen involved, the dialogue usually takes a back seat to the star's heroics, rendering this "play back" situation unnecessary. Also, Robert Vaughn, who does have a wealth of dialogue, is an excellent enunciator, a guy just made for my T.V.'s sound. As for the picture, I've enjoyed it so far and I haven't even got to the famous car chase. I think Vaughn's probably the bad guy, as he's the only actor who comes close to matching McQueen's "cool" quota, fearlessly staring down the superstar's Baby Blues in their scenes together.


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