Movie Diary 9/25/2018

Quartet (various, 1948). Four stories by W. Somerset Maugham, introduced by the author himself, who has a wonderfully “he’s never seen the way people talk in movies before, has he?” kind of delivery. Maugham’s ability to find great ideas for stories is much in evidence. The first one, “The Fact of Life” (dir. Ralph Smart), is a comic piece about a young man who goes to Monte Carlo and immediately disregards the three rules his father (Basil Radford) has imparted: stay away from gambling, lending money, and women. The woman in question in Mai Zetterling, who does her best to fulfill the father’s expectations. Second story is “The Alien Corn” (dir. Harold French), with Dirk Bogarde, in his second real movie role, as a young man determined to turn away from family responsibilities and become a great pianist; Honor Blackman tries to reason with him; a tricky bargain is made. “The Kite” (dir. Arthur Crabtree) is an odd number about an awkward kite designer, dominated by his mother (Hermione Baddeley), who forgoes marriage with a non-kite enthusiast (Susan Shaw). In “The Colonel’s Lady” (dir. Ken Annakin), the stuffy colonel (Cecil Parker) is surprised when his wife (Nora Swinburne) writes a best-selling book of poetry, and more surprised when people keep telling him how passionate the book is – a bittersweet situation all the way around. Not a barnburner, but some memorable situations, and an interesting look at an antique form of moviemaking.

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