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Thursday, May 29, 2008


After a precipitous decline that bottomed when Ted Morgan’s bio came out, Somerset Maugham has made a modest critical recovery. And who hasn’t fallen for this book, one of the all-time great reads. If the film remains studio bound & largely irredeemable, Maugham’s churning story of misdirected love (in Chicago), personal treachery (in Paris), & spiritual awakening (in the Himalayas!!) makes for irresistible entertainment on some level even under Edmund Goulding 's seriously square megging. Tyrone Power gets dramatic mileage out his fading bloom (not yet prematurely dire) & Anne Baxter keeps her teary role relatively sec. But only Clifton Webb, working with all flags flying, lives up to your dreams in parts that beg for role-of-a-life-time casting. How 'bout, Leonardo Di Caprio, Drew Barrymore & Bill Murray as casting for just those three leads? Hard to believe that Murray played the lead in the vanity production he co-wrote in '84.

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Generally, RAAI tries to draw attention to a publication not directly connected with the film. Not this time. Do yourself a favor, read Maugham's final masterpiece. You'll be clamoring for a decent film version, too.

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