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Three Films By Somerset Maugham - Trio / Encore / Quartet [DVD]
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A collection of films based on the short stories of W. Somerset Maugham. 'Trio' (1950) is a collection of three vignettes adapted from short stories written by W. Somerset Maugham and introduced on screen by the writer himself. 'The Verger' follows the fortunes of Albert Foreman (James Hayter) a man of the cloth at St Neville's whose position is terminated when it emerges that he is illiterate. Forced to change his life, he rejects reading and writing lessons and instead opens a tobacconist shop. He then becomes something of an unlikely business tycoon. In 'Mister Know All' we are introduced to Max Kelada (Nigel Patrick) - the type of big-mouth everyone loves to hate. A jeweller by trade, he goes on a cruise - where his inability to keep quiet leads him into an awkward situation. When he identifies the necklace of a fellow passenger's wife as authentic, he almost reveals a secret affair. His ability to finally keep his mouth shut earns him a newfound respect. 'Sanitorium' is set in a TB ward in the Scottish countryside. New patient Ashenden (Roland Culver) checks in and begins immediately to observe the lives of the other patients. A touching romance between resident patients Major Templeton (Michael Rennie) captivates his imagination while the incessant bickering between elderly residents McLeod (Finlay Currie) and Campbell (John Laurie) provides comic relief. 'Encore' (1951) is an adaptation of three more of Maugham's short stories. 'The Ant and the Grasshopper' concerns the trials and tribulations through which a ne'er-do-well brother, Tom Ramsey (Nigel Patrick), puts his prim-and-proper businessman brother, George Ramsey (Roland Culver). The escapades that drive George to absolute distraction eventually win the hand of the world's third richest girl (Margaret Withers) for the shiftless Tom. 'Winter Cruise' finds the crew of a cargo boat becoming unglued by the endless chatter of a spinster passenger named Miss Reid (Kay Walsh.) In a desperate attempt to silence the prattling busybody, the ship's officers browbeat a French steward, Pierre (Jacques Francois) into making love to her. The results provide some astounding surprises for the officers, Pierre, and certainly for Miss Reid. In 'The Gigolo and the Gigolette', beautiful daredevil Stella Cotman (Glynis Johns) - whose job it is to entertain the jaded guests of a resort hotel by diving nightly from an eighty-foot platform into a flaming tank - is losing her nerve. Finally, in 'Quartet' (1948), four more film versions of Maugham's stories are brought together and introduced by the man himself. 'The Facts of Life' features a young tennis player who escapes from his domineering partner and absconds to Monaco. 'The Alien Corn' features Dirk Bogarde playing a man with the ambition to be a top pianist, but he is rejected by music scholars. 'The Kite' stars George Cole as a man with an obsession for kites and little time for his wife. 'The Colonel's Lady' revolves around a stuffy colonel's search for the man his wife has been writing passionate poems about.
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Top Customer Reviews
Each film of the three (Trio, Quartet, Encore) is introduced by Somerset Maugham from his beautiful home and garden on the Riviera. How glamorous that must have seemed, looked at from the dingy squalor of much of 1940's Britain!
Superb entertainment and truly enjoyable. Recommended.
The pity here is that the most celebrated Quartet is pretty well outshone by it's sequels.
In Quartet the first three-"Facts of Life" with Jack Watling as an impressionable young tennis player abroad;"The Alien Corn" with Dirk Bogarde as an aspiring pianist and "The Kite" with George Cole are all fairly trite and dull but the last entry "The Colonel's Lady about a country lady of means(Nora Swinburne)whose small book of poetry is a publishing sensation much to the consternation of her unloving husband(Cecil Parker)who finds his well ordered life coming apart at the seams as he struggles to keep a lid on his jealousy.Both Swinburne and Parker are quite brilliant.
In the far more consistent Trio,James Hayter and the wonderous Kathleen Harrison are lovely in "The Verger"-a story of exquisite charm about the late blossoming of ambition and tolerance;"Mr Knowall"features Nigel Patrick as the "very british"Max Kelada which has a very nice payoff and "The Sanitorium"which has a very rich cast and passes the time pleasantly enough but doesn't really go anywhere.
In Encore we find Nigel Patrick at the top of his form in"The Ant And The Grasshopper"about two brothers with very differing views on responsibility;"Winter Cruise"has Kay Walsh as a chatterbox whose constant talking drives the crew to arrange a romance for her(the ending is nicely bittersweet)and "Gigolo and Gigolette"a misfire about a high diver saved only by Glynis Johns who looks very nice.
Overall this three disc set is a bargain but be wary of those rose tinted spectacles reviews,when it is good(The Verger,Mr Knowall)it is very good,when it is bad(Facts of life,Gigolo...)it is pretty bad.
Having already read all of the short stories featured in this collection, I was impressed at how well they match up with the printed versions. Disc 1, entitled Quartet, features four short stories: The Facts of Life, The Alien Corn, The Kite and The Colonel's Lady. Disc 2, entitled Trio, features three stories entitled The Verger, Mr Knowall and Sanatorium. Disc three, entitled Encore also features three stories, The Ant and the Grasshopper, Winter Cruise and Gigolo and Gigolette.
Well told stories have a timeless quality about them that will also show in well made and well acted stage and film versions of them. Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare and Beethoven are all 'dated', even 'out of date' and 'old fashioned'. Like them, Somerset Maugham withstands the passing of time simply because he is a timeless, top class story teller, facts that are brilliantly brought out in these productions. The story entitled 'The Verger' (Disc 1) has always been one of my all time favourite short stories.
Somerset Maugham was one of the greatest story tellers of all time and, let us never forget, story telling pre-dates the ability to read and write. Happily, Maugham was able to write down in readily readable style the creations his imaginative genius had already devised. It's so very encouraging to be able to see one's favourite stories so well acted out as they are in these timeless productions.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There should be no star at all, because the discs don't play, apparently UK discs do not work in the USA.!Published 1 month ago by jane e. burhop
fantastic value for money . My husband and l enjoyed every moment of this dvd. for those who like British actors buy thisPublished 7 months ago by Crafter Cornwall
Brilliant !! Each story is fascinating, and Maugham is a superlative writer.Published 7 months ago by artdealer