John Barrymore's Introspective Performance in Beau Brummel

Shingler, Martin (2018) John Barrymore's Introspective Performance in Beau Brummel. In: John Barrymore's Introspective Performance in Beau Brummel. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 47-58. ISBN 9781474411400

Full text not available from this repository.

Search Google Scholar


In her essay “The Great Profile: How Do We Know the Actor from the Acting?” Marian Keane analyzes a scene in Harry Beaumont's Beau Brummel (1924) in which John Barrymore performs before a full-length mirror, employing a set of gestures to announce “his thought and the fact of his thinking” (187). This is the moment that Barrymore's character George Brummel practices his poses and gestures in order to acquire a more charming and elegant persona which, in turn, marks the beginnings of his public persona: that is, his “Beau” identity.

Gazing at his reflection, Barrymore realizes he can make anything of his appearance. Part of him is always on display, while part of him, his inner self, remains concealed. He gazes here upon his reflection with eyes of an author or a creator, or an actor, who examines the unmolded stuff of a character. (Keane 193)

Here Keane describes not Brummel's realization that he can make anything of his appearance but rather Barrymore's. This (perhaps unintentional) slippage between character and actor/star suggests that the image of Barrymore and the character of Brummel are fused here (that is, Brummel is Barrymore and Barrymore is Brummel). It suggests further that, in this instance, Barrymore was able to disclose to his audience the processes of image-making central to stardom: namely, the revelation of some parts of his self and the concealment of others, as well as the transformation of a personality into a persona capable of circulating publicly to enhance the value of the actor. It is the way in whichBeau Brummel provided John Barrymore with an opportunity both to reflect upon and disclose to his audience some key aspects of image-making and star construction that I shall pursue here, building chiefly upon Marian Keane's work as well as Gaylyn Studlar's chapter on Barrymore in her book This Mad Masquerade: Stardom and Masculinity in the Jazz Age. I shall also consider how Beau Brummel functioned as the perfect star vehicle for Barrymore in 1924, capitalizing on his fame and achievements at that time. Furthermore, taking my cue from Keane, I shall explore more precisely what John Barrymore appears to be thinking during a critical moment of introspection.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Media
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries
Depositing User: Martin Finlayson
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2019 12:35
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2019 12:35

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item