Friday, February 10, 2012

Beau Revel - 1921

Country: USA
Director: John Griffith Wray
Writers: Luther Reed, Louis Joseph Vance (story)
Stars: Lewis Stone, Florence Vidor and Lloyd Hughes
Release Date: 20 March 1921 (USA)
Production Co: Thomas H. Ince Corporation
Runtime: 69 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Society | Character Name In Title
Genres: Drama
Among the producer Thomas Ince's series of specials for Paramount, source was as important as star; several were from Louis Joseph Vance novels: False Faces, The Bronze Bell, The Dark Mirror, and "Beau" Revel, as I outline in my Ince biography. All prominently acknowledged the popular author best known for the "Lone Wolf" mysteries. Vance had been signed to a four-picture deal with Ince, and was particularly involved with dramatizing The Dark Mirror and "Beau" Revel. A year earlier, Ralph Ince Film Attractions, a combine including not only Thomas's brother, but also Arthur Sawyer and Herbert Lubin, had secured Vance to compose originals and also analyze the story construction of each script prior to production.
"Beau" Revel, "An Ince-Vance Special Paramount Picture," was introduced with the subtitle, "This is the story of a man who played at love, forgetting in his vain selfishness, the rules of Duty, even Decency—conceitedly 'wasting his manhood in a game unworthy of man.'" That is a precise definition of Lewis Stone as the title character, first shown having his nails trimmed, his shoes shined, and receiving a shave. His latest fancy is Alice (Kathleen Kirkham), a woman whose husband's drunkenness has given Beau an opening. However, she refuses to believe his protestations that despite his reputation for breaking the hearts of many women, if she marries him he will henceforth only love her.
Beau arranges his evening with Alice to meet the woman his son cares for at the Club de Dance. Betty Lee (Florence Vidor) is a dancer, truly in love with Dick Revel (Lloyd Hughes), but his father cynically judges her by his own standards. Alice, for her part, perceives that Beau has a new interest, and she turns out to be correct, for Beau tricks his son into agreeing to not see Betty for two weeks, convinced he can get Betty in his room alone. Dick tries to warn her, but when Betty expresses dismay over such an opinion of his father, Dick believes she is already under his sway.
By the end of the two weeks, Beau has forgotten his promises in the new thrill to fulfill his vanity, and is now avoiding Alice, even though she is ready for the divorce from her husband. Beau's soul, through double-exposures, becomes a literal battleground of temptation, the shadows of women and his wicked self. His reputation is already tarnishing that of Betty, and when father and son both express their desire to marry her, she declares herself through with both. "You have never loved anybody—Not even Dick," Betty tells Beau, "The only thing you've ever loved is the idea of being in love." Dick wins her back, but meanwhile his father has realized that his life has been one of failure and mistakes. He doesn't want to die old, so he jumps to his death. In the last shot, as a metaphor, a moth is drawn too close to the flame of a dying candle.
"Beau" Revel is unusual for its exposure of the empty life, particularly that of a father, as a type of man usually accepted if not celebrated in cinematic narratives—a man who knows how to seize the psychological advantage with women, regardless of consequences. Stone is ideally cast, with Vidor and Hughes complimenting him in creating the sense of tragedy. Variety gave high praise to the realism of the acting and the restraint of novice director John Griffith Wray, suggesting he would have the significant Hollywood career that was shortly to occur with Ince. "Beau" Revel cost $134,380, and grossed $209,469. 

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