Ann Williams, secretary to eccentric drama critic Frederick Skeates, is persuaded to alter a ruinous review of Shakespearean actor Edmund Davey by Davey's wife Barbara. Davey's 'Othello' ...
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Ann Williams, secretary to eccentric drama critic Frederick Skeates, is persuaded to alter a ruinous review of Shakespearean actor Edmund Davey by Davey's wife Barbara. Davey's 'Othello' becomes a hit and Ann, even though fired by Skeates, becomes a fan of Davey and starts to fall for him, much to the jealousy of her boyfriend Tommy. At the prospect of involvement in an adulterous triangle, Ann recoils; but despite her resolution, the characters' love lives become ever more tangled and a real-life tragedy of Othello looms... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
This film was included in the first syndicated television presentation of a package of major studio feature films on USA television; it premiered on WPIX, New York City, Friday, December 3, 1948. The package consisted of 24 Alexander Korda productions originally released theatrically between 1933 and 1942. See more »
...and sometimes neither are directors! Still a fine film.
MEN ARE NOT GODS, a fascinating precursor to the justly lauded Ronald Coleman film A DOUBLE LIFE which in some ways surpasses its better known remake, is a rare film where a first class performance in one style clashes with a film exceedingly well made in another.
Alexander Korda gives us a well told tale of a drama critic's secretary who becomes entangled in the lives of a rising actor and his actress wife only to have the actor fall in lust with her and endanger his marriage, his very life and that of his wife when the lust becomes a consuming passion. A superbly chosen cast and settings build the story
from the final use of London's famed Alhambra theatre in Leicester
Square for the production of OTHELLO which is at the core of the film (we get wonderful stretches of the play in a fine pre-Paul Robeson interpretation) to tiny touches like the Actor waiting in the wings snuffing out his cigarette presaging his "Put out the light...and then put out the light" speech.
Character actor A.E. Matthews is excellent as the drama critic, Rex Harrison shines in one of his best early supporting performances as the young obituary writer in love with the girl, Sebastian Shaw a fine British actor little known on this side of the Atlantic soars as the Actor breaking through as Othello and Gertrude Lawrence, the great stage star whose film career rarely showed her to best advantage gives one of her best performances as the Actor's wife and Desdemona (we even get to hear her singing Shakespeare's "Willow Song" beautifully! - although it is unclear if this from from the Othello Suite of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor used in the film's on-stage Othello or a setting by the film's composer, Geoffrey Toye?).
The only jarring note - and not all will find it jarring - is the over the top performance from top billed Miriam Hopkins, then near the peak of a successful Hollywood career, as the Critic's secretary persuaded by the Actor's wife to alter a crucial review of her husband's performance. Hopkins (17 Broadway credits of her own from 1921 to 1959, so one cannot blame the failure of her performance to blend with the others on her lack of the stage experience of her co-stars), has her character go essentially mad torn between loyalty to the Actor's wife and the two men who want her. In 1936 the idea of greater attraction between Hopkins and Lawrence than between her and either Harrison or Shaw was unthinkable (and beside the point in the story), but in 2011, one may see an unintended subtext.
Producer Korda and director Walter Reich turned out a marvelously detailed and satisfying film despite the clash of styles, but I do wonder at the IMDb listed running time of 90 minutes. The Greek-issued promotional DVD I screened comes in at a smoothly edited 79:20. I'd love to find a "more complete" print, but it's hard to imagine what might have been left out of this one!
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