Overnight Sensation (1984)

US / 28 minutes / color / Bloom Dir & Pr: Jon N. Bloom Scr: Craig Buck Story: “The Colonel’s Lady” (1947; Creatures of Circumstance) by W. Somerset Maugham Cine: James Glennon Cast: Robert Loggia, Louise Fletcher, Shari Belafonte-Harper, Parley Baer, Lee Garlington, Vincent Guastaferro, Ed Bakey, Kirk Scott, Marcelo Tubert, Mary Woronov, Joanne Dusseau, Eric Poppick.

I’m beginning to think that W. Somerset Maugham is a sort of unsung hero of film noir. A couple of his novels gave rise to SECRET AGENT (1936) and the much later CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY (1944), while his play The Letter (1927) spawned The Letter (1929), The LETTER (1940) and The UNFAITHFUL (1947). His story “Pearls” (1927; vt “A String of Beads”) sparked several TV pieces, including A String of Beads (1953 TVM), which I recently covered on this site. I’m sure more will turn up as this site grows.

Robert Loggia as George.

Overnight Sensation is a loose adaptation of a Maugham story that I haven’t read. (Thanks to an unfortunate encounter with his Cakes and Ale [1930; vt The Skeleton in the Cupboard], which bored me silly when I was about 14, I’ve grossly underread Maugham, something I should rectify.) To be honest, aside from the Maugham connection, its connection to the noir ethos is tenuous at best until the final moments, when the true ironic horror of the situation is revealed. (I’m going to Continue reading

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A String of Beads (1954 TVM)

US / 25 minutes / bw / Everest, CBS Dir: William Cameron Menzies Pr: William Frye, Ronald Colman Scr: Don Ettlinger Story: “Pearls” (1927 in Hearst’s International Combined with Cosmopolitan; vt “A String of Beads”) by W. Somerset Maugham Cine: George E. Diskant Cast: Angela Lansbury, Ronald Colman, Brenda Forbes, Ron Randell, Nigel Bruce, George Macready, Sean McClory, Sarah Selby, Ben Wright, Dorothy Green.

Angela Lansbury as Joan.

An unnamed diner (Colman) sees Joan Robinson (Lansbury) arriving at a table on the far side of the restaurant where he’s seated with his lovely companion Laura Green), and takes the opportunity to tell Laura about Joan’s backstory.

Joan was governess to the family of pretentious socialite Edythe Livingstone (Forbes). Invited to one of Edythe’s parties to make up the numbers, Joan wore her string of cultured pearls—worth at most fifteen shillings. Star party guest and renowned gems expert Count Borselli (Macready) for fun told the assembled snobs that the pearls were, in his educated opinion, worth at least £60,000. At once Society, including her employer, assumed Joan was in reality not the working-class orphan she claimed to be but an aristocrat fallen on hard times.

Ronald Colman as the narrator.

When the truth emerges Continue reading