Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
USA/United Kingdom, 1954. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Karl Tunberg, based on the play by Clyde Fitch. Cinematography by Oswald Morris. Produced by Sam Zimbalist. Music by Richard Addinsell. Production Design by Alfred Junge. Costume Design by Elizabeth Haffenden. Film Editing by Frank Clarke.
The famed Englishman whose name is still often used to denote sartorial prowess began as a soldier whose criticism of the Prince of Wales (Peter Ustinov, capitalizing on the sniveling voluptuary type that Quo Vadis had him stuck playing for years) gets him pushed out of the army. The prince turns out to be tired of all the sycophants surrounding him, admiring Brummell’s frankness and hiring him as an advisor. The plan goes well and the two become good friends, with Brummell (Stewart Granger) developing his fame as a leader in taste and style for the nation while supporting his royal friend’s bid to be made ruling monarch in light of George III’s apparent madness.
It’s only a matter of time, however, before the two of them disagree and our handsome hero becomes an inconvenience to his much more powerful companion, and it has an effect that leads to a very unhappy conclusion. Elizabeth Taylor is woefully underused as little more than feminine distraction for Granger’s caddish side in a film that is a full-on jumble of confused bids for ticket sales. With a tragic plot for a drama, it’s filmed like a swashbuckler but has no action scenes, and is devoid of romance but acts like it is sagging with it, the whole thing amounting to a forgettable dud that is only worth watching for the incredible skill that Granger has for not embarrassing himself despite the material.