Four of W. Somerset Maugham's short stories are brought to the screen with each introduced by the author. In the first story, "The Facts of Life", a young man with great potential on the ... See full summary »
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Brenda de Banzie
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The film is made from three short stories by W. Somerset Maugham. The first, "The Ant and the Grasshopper" concerns the trials and tribulations a ne'er-do-well brother, Tom Ramsey, puts his prim-and-proper businessman brother, George Ramsey through. The escapades that drive George to absolute distraction eventually wins the hand of the world's third richest girl, Margaret Vyne, for shiftless Tom; "Winter Cruise" finds the crew of a cargo boat becoming unglued by the endless chatter of a spinster passenger named Miss Reid. In a desperate attempt to silence the prattling busybody, the ship's officers browbeat a French steward, Pierre into making love to her. The results provide some astounding surprises for the officers, Pierre, and, for certain, Miss Reid; In "The Gigolo and the Gigolette" segment, beautiful daredevil Stella Cotman, who entertains the jaded guests of a resort hotel by diving nightly from an eighty-foot platform into a flaming tank, is losing her nerve.Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Overall I rate 'Encore' a 7, but the stories vary greatly. I liked the first one the best, as I thoroughly enjoyed Nigel Patrick's portrayal of a devil-may-care wastrel who sponges off his hard-working brother but always seems to land on his feet. As with all Maugham stories the dialogue is sophisticated and clever, so much so that you listen intently for the next juicy morsel so as not to miss any.
The second story is more subtle, the dialogue more droll and understated than the first, and I thought Kay Walsh was delightful as the gabby-guts spinster. The ship's crew becomes more desperate and exasperated and the circumstances funnier as the voyage drags on until the ambiguous ending. I thought this story captured the essence of Maugham's erudition and sense of humor better than the other two.
I disagree with other reviewers in that I thought the last story about the diving act was the weakest of the three, and it was the longest. It lacks credulity and is a humorless exercise in tedium, and I really couldn't imagine going to a fancy restaurant to watch a 30 second high diving act. The love-story angle is not really compelling but is brought to life by Glynis Johns, who did the best she could.
On the whole, it was well-done and with the added bonus of having Somerset Maugham himself introduce each segment. 'Encore' is well worth your time.
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