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Quartet (1948)

 |  Drama  |  22 November 1948 (UK)
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Four of Somerset Maugham's short stories are brought to the screen with each introduced by the author himself. In the first story, The Facts of Life, a young man with great potential on the... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
W. Somerset Maugham ...
Himself - Host
Basil Radford ...
Naunton Wayne ...
Leslie (segment "The Facts of Life")
Ian Fleming ...
Ralph (segment "The Facts of Life")
Jack Raine ...
Thomas (segment "The Facts of Life")
Mrs. Garnet (segment "The Facts of Life")
Branksome (segment "The Facts of Life")
Jack Watling ...
Nicky (segment "The Facts of Life")
Nigel Buchanan ...
John (segment "The Facts of Life") (as Nigal Buchanan)
Jeanne (segment "The Facts of Life")
Jean Cavall ...
Cabaret Artist (segment "The Facts of Life")
George Bland (segment "The Alien Corn")
Raymond Lovell ...
Sir Frederick Bland (segment "The Alien Corn")
Irene Browne ...
Lady Bland (segment "The Alien Corn")
Paula (segment "The Alien Corn")


Four of Somerset Maugham's short stories are brought to the screen with each introduced by the author himself. In the first story, The Facts of Life, a young man with great potential on the tennis courts goes to Monte Carlo and soon finds himself doing the exact opposite of what his father recommended. In 'The Alien Corn', an aspiring pianist devotes himself to perfecting his artistic skills but finds he likely hasn't the talents to reach the heights he so desperately craves. In 'The Kite', a young man who lives at home and loves kite flying goes against his overbearing mother's wishes and marries the girl he's been dating. He's soon back home, much to his mother's delight, but re-considers when his wife takes up a new hobby. In the final chapter 'The Colonel's Lady', a middle-aged man is shocked to learn that his somewhat dowdy wife has written a collection of racy poems and is now a best-selling author. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

22 November 1948 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Arte de Viver  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


In an unusual coincidence, Quartet has two actors who would both have eternal associations with the James Bond series. Bernard Lee, who would later play M, and Honor Blackman, who would play one of the most famous Bond girls in Goldfinger (1964), Pussy Galore. Despite the name Ian Fleming on the credits, he is not the same man who wrote the Bond novels. See more »


Himself, Host: In my twenties, the critics said I was brutal. In my thirties, they said I was flippant; in my forties, they said I was cynical; in my fifties they said I was competent - and then, in my sixties, they said I was superficial.
See more »


Followed by Encore (1951) See more »


by Franz Schubert
Played by Eileen Joyce
See more »

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User Reviews

Subtle and insightful--and delightful
31 August 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Quartet (1948)

A set of four half-hour movies built on stories by Somerset Maugham, who also introduces the movie. They all have a witty naturalism that's totally likable, and the slice of life insights are sometimes even moving. You can only get so far into complexity in a short time, but these do well at packing their narrative efficiently. Really enjoyable. And, especially for those of us who aren't British, they are a total insight into British life (mostly upper class British life, for sure, and mostly post-war era).

It's hard to go into them all in detail but I'll point out the key thing to each that makes them watchable. I'm not talking plot, but some other quality. As follows.

The Facts of Life: The most fun might be the first, logically placed. A man is given advice by his father before going to Monte Carlo (that rich person's den of temptation). And things go exactly backwards, without the son really having a thing to do with it. You mostly smile and enjoy the ride.

The Alien Corn: More straightforward (except the title), and reveals a common Maugham theme of getting the practical British old folks to appreciate an artist's sensibility. In this case it's music. And it runs into a shocking final chord. Idealism up against the wall.

The Kite: Really a tale of a marriage that comes unhinged on one basic misunderstanding. Both main characters (man and wife) are stubborn about certain principles, and it comes to a rather simple kind of violence between them. And a resolution. Touching.

The Colonel's Lady: Certainly more touching, a funny and brilliant and sad bit of writing and stunning acting. This is probably the most involved of the group, and it's just tightly made, a short story in feel, and yet with enough layers to make it really lasting.

All of these are about real life and real people, and small things that end up mattering quite a lot. It's a different experience than a single feature movie, yes, but a refreshing one, with built in refreshment breaks. If you like this approach (sort movies in group), check out the Maugham inspired sequel of sorts called "Encore."

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