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Quartet

Quartet(1949)

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NOTES

powered by AFI

The opening title credit reads: "W. Somerset Maugham's Quartet." The opening cast credits are listed alphabetically, and the closing cast credits are organized under each story title. The onscreen directors' credit states: "The four stories directed by" followed by each director's name. In the film's opening scene of a library, a voice-over prologue states: "The start of this film is not an actor or an actress, but a writer. And those of us who helped to make it take pleasure in paying tribute to him. William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874, is the author of twenty-four novels, twenty-four plays and upwards of 100 short stories. This is what he says about his life and work."
       Maugham then appears, first standing at a bookcase, then seated behind a desk and, addressing the camera, explains that his short stories are inspired by events and people from his life. Maugham concludes his statement by saying: "To tell you the truth, fact and fiction are so intermingled in my work that now, looking back, I can hardly distinguish one from the other. In my twenties, the critics said I was brutal, in my thirties they said I was flippant, in my forties they said I was cynical, in my fifties they said I was incompetent and then in my sixties they said I was superficial. I went my own way with a shrug of the shoulders, following the path I had traced and trying with my work to fill out the pattern of life I had made for myself." The voice-over narration resumes over a shot of a book open to the title page of the first short story. The narrator introduces the segment, then reads the first few opening lines of the story. Each story is introduced in this manner. The director for each episode is listed on the story title page. At the film's conclusion, Maugham returns in a brief epilogue in which he thanks the audience.
       According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, five stories were originally considered for the production, with the film title to be Quintet. The story "Red" was eventually dropped and the new title assigned. The PCA approved the first three episodes without comment, but refused to approve "The Colonel's Lady," recommending that the adulterous relationship between "Colonel George Peregrine" and "Daphne" be removed. The story remained unchanged and the PCA gave their seal of approval without further comment. Quartet is listed in the copyright catalog with the incorrect number of LP2468. Although J. Arthur Rank Productions had an office situated within Universal Studios, the studio was not involved in the production of Quartet.
       The success of Quartet inspired two follow-up films, the J. Arthur Rank production Trio in 1950 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50) and the 1952 Paramount film Encore. These films each featured three stories by Maugham and the author appeared to introduce the films and the individual stories.