W. Somerset Maugham introduces three more of his stories about human foibles.
Following on from his "Quartet" series from 1948, we have another three short stories with a gently underlying moral message from Somerset Maugham. The first is, in my view, the best: it sees a verger of many years standing (James Hayter) forced to resign by a rather snobbish vicar when it is discovered that he can neither read nor write. Only once he has left the safety of his parochial responsibilities, does he discover a fondness for his landlady (Kathleen Harrison) and a flair for business and is soon proving that his inability was little impediment to his happiness and success. The second features an on-form Nigel Patrick as a show-off who manages to alienate just about everyone on an ocean cruise with his rather vulgar, ostentatious manner but yet is not quite as odious an individual as his image presents. Finally, we head to a baronial style castle in the north of Scotland where people are sent to convalesce and recover from tuberculosis. The latter story has the better cast, and a decently interwoven series of stories as the patients try to deal with their illness, and their demons - with mixed results - but even with Michael Rennie, Jean Simmons, André Morrell and a rather enjoyable pairing of John Laurie and Finlay Currie drags on just a bit too long. It's all interestingly linked together by the author, and takes a series of swipes at the British and their attitudes and prejudices in a clever, at times quite witty way.