Director: Ken Annakin, Arthur Crabtree, Harold French and Ralph Smart
Year Released: 1948
Four stories by W. Somerset Maugham (who provides the introduction and concluding remarks) are presented by four directors, and while the general rule states that omnibus films are uneven affairs, this one plays out smoothly, with each story having its own Aesop-esque moral. The weakest tale of the four (arguably) is "The Alien Corn," with Dirk Bogarde's aspiring (and all-too-confident) piano player realizing he doesn't have world class artistic talent (despite having everything else in life, including a secure future due to his wealthy family) and takes his own life - while it must be tragic to discover what one loves most in the world doesn't love one equally in return (the girl that's enraptured with him, played by Honor Blackman, he could care less about), ending one's life in such a way comes across as a little glib. The other stories are considerably more developed, with "The Facts of Life" - about a tennis star who ignores his father's advice (and comes out ahead) - and "The Colonel's Lady" - about a cheat who starts to panic when his matronly wife wrote a scandalous book of poetry and suspects she's been unfaithful to him - being splendidly paced and presented. All four directors have rather unremarkable resumes individually, but they make a fine team here.