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