Review: ‘The Moon and Sixpence’

Somerset Maugham's widely read novel has been made into an intriguing, distinctive screen vehicle. The story of an English stockbroker who reached for the moon and ultimately won fame as a painter, only just before his death, at times is reminiscent of Citizen Kane.

Somerset Maugham’s widely read novel has been made into an intriguing, distinctive screen vehicle. The story of an English stockbroker who reached for the moon and ultimately won fame as a painter, only just before his death, at times is reminiscent of Citizen Kane.

While Herbert Marshall figures importantly, as he retraces the story of the painter, it is really George Sanders’ picture. He makes the strange life of the struggling artist live, and it’s his outstanding screen role to date.

The episodes in the distant island of Tahiti are rich in tropical flavor. The Tahitian portion of the story offers startling contrast in humorous moments and in most impressive scenes of film.

Albert Lewin’s direction is keenly intelligent, shifting readily from lighter, funny moments to the harshly dramatic. Camerawork of John F. Seitz is on the same high plane. Sepia tone is employed in all Tahiti parts of the film, with color used in last few scenes when Sanders’ hut is burned.

1943: Nomination: Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture

The Moon and Sixpence

Production

United Artists. Director Albert Lewin; Producer David L. Loew; Screenplay Albert Lewin; Camera John F. Seitz; Editor George Hively, Richard L. Van Enger; Music Dimitri Tiomkin; Art Director Gordon Wiles

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1943. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

George Sanders Herbert Marshall Doris Dudley Steven Geray Eric Blore Florence Bates
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