Cast & Crew
The Ant and the Grasshopper : In London, charming idler Tom Ramsey exhausts finances gained from pawning his personal items and makes another of his usual calls on his brother George to ask for a loan. A hard-working, successful solicitor, George steadfastly refuses to encourage Tom's lax behavior and demands that his brother get a job. The next day while meeting a client, George is mortified to find Tom working as the doorman to his club. Fearful of any scandal tainting the family name, George hastily gives Tom money, which he immediately loses gambling at the race track. Shortly afterward, George is again startled to come upon Tom working as a bartender in George's favorite lounge, but he refuses to give Tom more money. A little later while arranging to sell Chartfield, the Ramsey Estate, George finds Tom employed as a window cleaner. When Tom protests George's selling the family home, George explains he intends to buy out his retiring partner to own the business outright. A few days later after George and his wife Freda show Chartfield to a prospective buyer, a representative from a luxury car dealership, Phillip Cronshaw, stops by looking for Tom. Cronshaw explains that Tom came to his company's showroom and test drove a car which he did not return. George protests that Tom has never resorted to theft, but Cronshaw explains that Tom sold the car to another dealership. Alarmed when Cronshaw mentions contacting the police, George offers to cover the loss. Later, Cronshaw meets Tom, with whom he is in league, and the men use the money to relax at a seaside resort. While there, Tom spots the world's third richest woman, Gertrude Wilmot, and presses Cronshaw for an introduction. Despite Cronsahw's warning that Gertrude is bored with money-hungry suitors, Tom turns on the charm with Gertrude before frankly admitting that he is a rogue and attracted to her mainly for her wealth. Several days later, George and Freda are stunned to read of Tom and Gertrude's engagement in the newspaper. Tom stops by to repay George for the years of loans and George bitterly observes that it is unfair that Tom should acquire wealth without ever working a day in his life. Tom remains unruffled and then informs George that Gertrude has just purchased Chartfield as she has always longed to live in the country.
Winter Cruise : Spinster Molly Reid, owner of "Molly's Parlor" tea shop in the west of England, sets off on her annual winter cruise to Jamaica. On the first evening the captain, doctor and first mate and passengers are taken aback by Molly's animated chatter on all topics. Undaunted even by a fierce storm, Molly keeps up an unflagging bright prattle over the next few days which quickly exhausts the passengers and crew. Upon arriving at Kingston, the crew is disheartened to learn that Molly will not disembark, but make the return trip. The men are further dismayed when the captain informs them that they have been ordered to return directly to England, bypassing their usual passenger pick-up stop in Trinidad. After a couple of days alone with the effusive Molly and with thirteen days left on the cruise, the captain ponders how to arrange a peaceful Christmas for his men. The doctor suggests that perhaps a romance would distract Molly, but all of the officers hastily admit they are married. The captain then turns to the handsome young French steward Pierre for help, but he initially refuses until the captain insists that it is Pierre's duty to keep the passengers happy. After a hesitant start, Pierre sends Molly a note declaring that he has fallen in love with her. Unperturbed, Molly goes over the note with Pierre in an effort to correct his English. Thanking Pierre for his attention, Molly assures him that she is aware that he is only attempting to cheer her up. Pierre insists that he indeed loves Molly and she is left speechless. On Christmas Eve, the captain and officers all note a new reticence in Molly, which she refuses to explain. Later, Pierre also refuses details about Molly. On Christmas morning the officers are all touched to find individual presents from Molly to each of them and realize the genuine kindness behind her garrulousness. Upon arriving in England, Molly takes leave of the men and thanks the captain personally, admitting that she was aware of his attempt to provide her with romance. Chagrined, the captain and his men offer Molly their sincere best wishes and bid her farewell. Molly is met by her friend Nora Price, and while waving goodbye to Pierre, Molly announces her decision to change the name of her teashop to "Chez Molly."
Gigolo and Gigolette : At the outdoor club at the Ritz Hotel in Monte Carlo, a wealthy society crowd gathers nightly to watch the daring performance of Stella Cotman, who dives from a height of eighty feet into a tank only five feet wide and deep. Stella's husband Syd introduces her dive, offering a thousand dollars to anyone who would challenge her. One evening after the dive, Syd and Stella are visited backstage by an older couple, Flora and Carlo Penezzi who offer their congratulations on the act's success. Flora relates that years before she and Carlo had an act where she was a "human cannonball" launched from a cannon fired by her husband. Flora admits the act was dangerous, but that she gained courage from her confidence in Carlo's love. After the couple's departure, Stella tells Syd that she cannot perform her second dive that evening because she is frightened. Syd points out that the hotel depends upon their act for late-night trade, but Stella derides her audience as wealthy fools and insists she will only dive once each evening. Syd reluctantly agrees to try and renegotiate their contract and later returns to their hotel room with the news that their contract has been extended for a month at twice the pay. When Syd admits that Stella must still make two dives each evening, Stella breaks down, revealing that she has grown steadily terrified that she will die in a diving mishap. Stella then maintains that if Syd truly loved her he would not ask her to continue diving, but Syd reminds her that without their act, they would return to their earlier impoverished life. Stella repeats her refusal to perform and while Syd regrets that they do not yet have enough money to retire, he agrees to speak to the manager the next day. The following afternoon on the beach, Stella asks Syd if there will be difficulties over breaking their contract. Syd believes the manager will not sue them, but is certain that he would insure that they never work again. After consideration, Stella returns to their hotel room alone and, taking their savings, goes to the casino where she finds Flora at the roulette table. Despite Flora's cautionary counsel, Stella promptly bets and loses the entire amount. When Syd discovers Stella has lost all of their savings, he departs angrily. That night, Stella prepares for her act with Flora's assistance, and tells Flora that she will continue performing until she kills herself so as not to disappoint her public. Alarmed, Flora and Carlo seek out Syd who refuses to believe that Stella would carry on in spite of her terror. When Flora explains that Stella has come to believe that Syd cares more for money than for her, Syd rushes to the club, arriving just as Stella reaches the diving board. Syd hurries up the ladder while Stella wavers for some moments. As Syd nears the top, Stella composes herself and after meeting Syd's reassuring smile, makes a clean dive.
William Somerset Maugham
T. E. B. Clarke
J. Arthur Rank
Earl St. John
The film's title card reads: "W. Somerset Maugham's Encore." In the film's opening scene, Maugham is shown walking across a garden. A narrator then states the following: "Here in the garden of his home in France is William Somerset Maugham to introduce Encore." Maugham then states: "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm really quite ashamed to face you again. You'll begin to think that I fancy myself as a film star, but I assure you, I don't. And it's because I don't that I'm talking to you from my garden in the Riviera. I thought if you were tired of looking at me, you could look at my garden." Several shots of a garden are displayed. Maugham then states that three more of his stories have been adapted, and while based on real people, they are works of fiction that he hopes provided entertainment. Each segment then opens with an introduction by Maugham, followed by a narrator reading the first lines of the story from a book.
The onscreen writing credit reads: "The three stories adapted for the screen by" followed by the author's name and each Maugham short story title. "The Captain and Miss Reid" appeared in Creatures of Circumstance, a collection of Maugham short stories, as "Winter Cruise." Encore followed the 1950 J. Arthur Rank-Paramount production Trio (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50), which also featured three separate stories by Maugham. That film, in turn, followed the popular 1949 Eagle-Lion British production, Quartet, which featured four stories by the author. Maugham appeared in each film and introduced the stories presented.