7 January 2019 | TheLittleSongbird
Trio of charm
Not everybody may like W Somerset Maugham's writing, have seen criticisms of it not holding up well. For me though, have always appreciated it for its sharp prose, charm and insight. Don't feel his work has been adapted enough on film, but when it is it's interesting to view. Particular examples being the three films in the portmanteau trilogy 'The Aesop's Fables Maugham Concerto Trilogy'.
Of which the second is 1950's 'Trio', sandwiched between 1948's 'Quartet' and 1951's 'Encore'. Said for 'Quartet' that all three films are well worth watching, with that film being my personal favourite due to the sublime "The Colonel's Lady". And that is definitely true for 'Trio', this time comprising of three segments, "The Verger", "Mr Know-All" and "Sanitorium". Like 'Quartet', it's not even all the way through but considering the type of film it is (where there is always going to be at least segment that is not as good as the others), that's not surprising. Again though it is a very good film with little to criticise as an overall whole.
The only big criticism is that from personal opinion the Raymond Huntley and Betty Ann Davies part of "Sanitorium" is somewhat on the melodramatic side. The film felt slightly too short.
However, the good things far outweigh and they are numerous and big. Of the three segments my personal favourite, like others here, is the charmingly ironic and amusing "Mr Know-All" thanks to the comic talents of Nigel Patrick. Have much praise too for the truly poignant Jean Simmons and Michael Rennie portion of "Sanitorium" thanks to the rich character development of those two characters and the truly beautiful way Simmons and Rennie play their roles. One shouldn't overlook "Mr Verger", with James Hayter and Kathleen Harrison on sparkling form. The quality of the performances are a major asset here.
As is the beautifully balanced writing in distinctive Maugham style, the charm, the insight, the ironic humour are all there with the last being especially well done and a major reason as to why "Mr Know-All" so well as a segment. For such short stories, it is hard not to marvel at how well written the characters are, especially Simmons' and Rennie's. Maugham himself introduces and bookends thoughtfully and the Oscar nomination for Best Sound is hardly inexplicable, though actually don't consider it the very best asset of 'Trio'. Like 'Quartet', 'Trio' is beautifully made and directed, with things never becoming dull or directed with too much of a heavy hand, the lightness present in 'Quartet' present here too.
Overall, really enjoyed this too. 8/10 Bethany Cox