George Sanders stars in "The Moon and Sixpence," a 1942 film also starring Herbert Marshall, Doris Dudley, Eric Blore, Steven Geray, and Albert Basserman. Loosely based on the life of Gauguin, the screenplay by Albert Lewin is based on the book by Somerset Maugham.
As in the later "The Razor's Edge," Maugham, here also played by Herbert Marshall, serves as narrator for most of the film. Sanders is the unpleasant, self-involved Charles Strickland, a stock broker who deserts his family and leaves London to go to Paris and become a painter. There he meets Dirk Stroeve (Geray), who becomes a friend. When Strickland becomes ill, Stroeve over the strong objections of his wife Blanche (Dudley) moves Strickland to their home to nurse him back to health. Stroeve then gets the impression that his wife is in love with Srrickland, and that Strickland has no intention of leaving. So he throws him out. His wife says that she's leaving with him. Stroeve leaves instead.
Strickland eventually tires of Blanche and then leaves for Tahiti. There he continues to paint and even falls in love with a native girl, Ata (Elena Verdugo). There Dr. Coutras (Bassermann) picks up the narration.
As the unapologetic user obsessed with his work, George Sanders is excellent. Like many in the studio system, he was typecast into playing one type of role, but he was capable of so much more. Another revelation in this film is Eric Blore, who was always typecast as a butler. Here he is a different kind of character and is absolutely wonderful. Herbert Marshall does not register much in what is basically a thankless role - he had more to do in The Razor's Edge.
Good movie. If this and Lust for Life are any indication, Gauguin, even if this character just hints at him, was a most unpleasant character.
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