Many film adaptations have been made of the book of the same name, but this is the classic 1939 version.
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To protect a loved one, Englishman "Beau" Geste (Cooper) takes the blame for the theft of a jewel and runs away to enlist in the French Foreign Legion. He is joined by his brothers Digby (Preston) and John (Milland). In North Africa, they are trained by the sadistic Sergeant Markoff (Donlevy).
Their unit (with Beau and John) is assigned to Fort Zinderneuf, way out in the desert. When the lieutenant becomes ill, Markoff takes command, seeing an opportunity for advancement. The men become mutinous due to his harsh treatment of them, but before things get totally out of hand, they are attacked by Arabs. One by one, the legionnaires are killed. Markoff props their corpses up on the battlements to make it look like they have more men than they really do. To complicate matters further, Markoff believes that Beau has the jewel, and he wants it. Finally, only Markoff, Beau and John are left alive. When Beau is shot, Markoff searches his body for the jewel. John kills Markoff, and listens to Beau's final words.
Just then, a relief column appears. Digby volunteers to scout the fort. Digby volunteers to enter the fort to find out why there has been no response to their signals. He and John desert, but on their way, Digby is shot by an Arab, leaving only John to return home to England to his love, Isobel (Susan Hayward), and his aunt. He reads Beau's letter, in which it is revealed that the aunt had been forced to secretly sell the jewel and replace it with a fake. When the spendthrift uncle had decided to sell it, John stole the imitation to protect her.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's one of the grandest of all adventure films.
Best scene in story:
Perhaps the Viking funeral at the end. Beau had always wanted one, and after his death, John obliged, complete with a dog (Markoff) at his feet.
Opinion about the main character:
Gary Cooper is good at playing down-to-earth, noble characters, and he doesn't disappoint here.