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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Zany collection of misfits led by aging military man (Terry-Thomas) go on a spree of robbing mink coats. An unlikely trio of women (Athene Seyler, Hattie Jacques, and Elspeth Duxbury) find ... See full summary »
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>
Have always appreciated W Somerset Maugham's writing, it has been criticised for not holding up well but really like the sharpness of the prose, the insight, the irony and charm. He is not adapted enough on film, but when he is it makes for interesting results. Something that is evident in the portmanteau trilogy 'The Aesop's Fables Maugham Concerto Trilogy', consisting of 'Quartet' (1948), 'Trio' (1950) and 'Encore' (1951).
Like 'Quartet' the best marginally, due to "The Colonel's Lady" being my favourite of all the segments of the entire trilogy, while equally liking 'Trio'. Of the three, my least favourite is 'Encore', which is still worthwhile and not because it's bad, just that the other two's segments were more consistent and higher individually in quality. It's uneven but as was said with 'Quartet' and 'Trio' that was not unexpected, considering the usual standard of anthologies (am not meaning this in a derogatory manner). Like 'Trio', 'Encore' is made up of three segments, starting with "The Ant and the Grasshopper" and finishing with "Gigolo and Gigolette" with "Winter Cruise" sandwiched in between.
Unlike 'Quartet' and 'Trio', there are moments of pedestrian direction, apparent in some of "The Ant and the Grasshopper" and on occasions, but only fleetingly in, "The Gigolo and the Gigolette". Found myself not the biggest fan of "The Ant and the Grasshopper", which was admittedly amusing and had great comic timing from especially Nigel Patrick in one of the film's standout performances.
The pacing did need more kick though, while the characters are rather too cynical, while not being as interesting as the rich characterisation in particularly the "Sanitorium" segment in 'Trio', and the ending is on the absurd side.
On the other hand, "Winter Cruise" is very entertaining, lifted by the delightful (if not working for everyone) turn of Kay Walsh having a ball, and with a touch of pathos. The longest segment "The Gigolo and the Gigolette" is not loved by all, though it has been considered the best of the three (my favourite actually is "Winter Cruise", but mostly the pace is fine, it is the most unpredictable of the three with an ending that one does not expect and one is treated to a good deal of emotion and especially tension before getting there.
Have no issues with the performances really and Maugham's writing shines just as much as it did in 'Quartet' and 'Trio', the insight, irony and charm frequently present though the lightness was more apparent in those two films. He again introduces and bookends the film and each segment and he delivers it with the same qualities he brought to 'Quartet' and 'Trio'. Like the previous two films, 'Encore' is pleasing visually and appropriately scored.
In conclusion, worthwhile end to a very interesting and well done trilogy of portmanteaus. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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