At a time when many cineasts are beginning to respond to the beauties of Powell and Pressburger's "Gone to Earth", Wyler's "Carrie", that other most underrated masterpiece, continues to attract too little appreciative attention. It is not difficult to see why insofar that its depressing subject material is incompatible with audience expectations of its genre, Hollywood studio romanticism. It has a hero who slides into despair and degradation whilst the heroine succeeds in her chosen profession as an aspiring actress. Women who take their handkerchiefs to the cinema have always seemed indifferent to the film: indeed the only admirers I have personally found have been male, possibly identifying with the debonaire restaurateur, Hurstwood (magnificently played by Laurence Olivier), sowing the seeds of his downfall through human weakness which destroys everything except his innate dignity. Had the film been set in its own period (mid 20th century) and directed by, say, a De Sica or Kurosawa, we might still be talking about it. Instead it is set shortly after the beginning of the century, a transitional period when the romantic past was rapidly being overcome by the grainy realism of a new mechanised age. However, far from being weakened by the genre conventions of a highly romantic approach,the superbly crafted direction by William Wyler, photography perfectly composed by Victor Milner and a wonderfully lyrical score by David Raksin are elements that serve to enhance the material. They never sentimentalise it, somehow proving that when as here the Hollywood romantic cinema was given a really mature theme and text, it could, in the hands of some of its greatest craftsmen, be responsible for producing a work of the highest cinematic art.