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Olivia de Havilland,
Well-to-do Chicagoan, Larry Darrell, breaks off his engagement to Isabel and travels the world seeking enlightenment, eventually finding his guru India. Isabel marries Gray, and following the crash of 1929, is invited to live in Paris with her rich, social climbing, Uncle Elliot. During a sojurn there, Larry, having attained his goal, is reunited with Isabel. While slumming one night Larry, Isabel and company are shocked to discover Sophie, a friend from Chicago. Having lost her husband and child in a tragic accident, Sophie is living the low-life with the help of drugs and an abusive brute. Larry tries to rehabilitate her, but his efforts are sabotaged by Isabel who tries in vain to reignite Larry's interest in herself. Written by
Richard Blinkal <email@example.com>
Tyrone's sideburns don't match and keep changing at the beginning of the film. See more »
[Recounting a series of rejected invitations]
And then when I asked him to dinner, he said he couldn't come because he had no evening clothes. If I live to be a hundred I shall never understand how any young man can come to Paris without evening clothes.
[Referring to the turning down of the invitations]
Maybe he just didn't want to.
That's the most incredible reason for refusing an invitation I've ever heard in my life.
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When the screenplay credits are shown, a curious symbol appears near W. Somerset Maugham's name. It's a symbol meant to ward off the evil eye, and it more often than not appeared on the covers of many of Maugham's novels. See more »
Tosh of a very high-minded kind and magnificently entertaining. W Somerset Maugham's novel was a po-faced tale of unmitigated seriousness filled to the brim with 'grand themes' and a better director than Edmund Goulding might have made an equally serious and po-faced film. Goulding's pedigree was trashy women's pictures and he had the knack of making silk purses out of sow's ears. He may have dumbed down Maugham's novel but at least it's lively and at times wonderfully over-the-top as well as being beautifully photographed and designed. It may be deeply silly but it's never dull.
Unfortunately that handsome clothes-horse Tyrone Power is there in the central, crucial role of Larry Darrell, the existentialist hero traveling the world in search of 'enlightenment'. Power lacks the natural gravitas the part demands. Luckily he's surrounded by players who are so much better than he. The under-rated Gene Tierney is wonderfully willful as the rich girl who marries someone else, Anne Baxter, who won the Oscar for her part, is the dipsomaniac Sophie and best of all there is Clifton Webb, robbed of an Oscar, as the arch snob Elliot Templeton who, naturally, has all the best lines. Herbert Marshall also keeps popping up as Maugham, narrating the story as if it's all real.
I think we were meant to find it all profound and uplifting and I'm sure some people took it all very seriously. But we can no more take this seriously than if the original novel had been written by Harold Robbins or Jacqueline Susann. It's trash and so long as you accept it as such you might just love it. The remake, with Bill Murray, did take itself seriously and failed miserably.
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