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Monday, November 10, 2008


The steadily rising critical tides for writer Noël Coward, helmer David Lean & especially composer Sergei Rachmaninoff in the last decade have largely eliminated the old knee-jerk apologies or pleadings of guilty pleasure once used by defenders of this classic romance of stifled emotions. Even back in the ‘60s & ‘70s, no one gainsaid the performances (superb all around and transcendent in the case of Celia Johnson) or Robert Krasker’s steely-beautiful cinematography. Now, the old taunts of condescension & failed realism so often held against Coward seem not only self-serving, but incomprehensible. The Master knew exactly what he was after and what he was doing while Lean, happily serving the chamber-sized material, gives every character & plot turn the precision of a chronometer.

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