Somerset Maugham and the Cinema (Wisconsin Film Studies) (Hardcover)

Somerset Maugham and the Cinema (Wisconsin Film Studies) By Robert Calder Cover Image
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William Somerset Maugham (1874–1965) was one of the most prominent and productive authors of the twentieth century—and his works have been among the most cinematically transformed in history. For more than five decades, adaptations of his plays, stories, and novels dominated movie theaters and, later, television screens. More than ninety individual works were filmed, and for many filmgoers his name was a greater draw than that of the director. Works such as Of Human Bondage, “The Letter,” The Painted Veil, “Rain,” The Razor’s Edge, and others were produced multiple times, with starring roles sought by actors like Bette Davis, Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, Lionel Barrymore, Charles Laughton, and Bill Murray.

This study of the famous author explores the relationship between literature and film, what is involved in adaptation, and how best to judge films based on celebrated books. Robert Calder, the world’s leading scholar of Maugham’s work, offers fascinating production histories, insight into both fortunate and misguided casting decisions, shrewd analyses of performances and film techniques, and summaries of public and critical responses. Maugham’s characters were often conflicted, iconoclastic, and morally out of step with their times, which may have accounted for the popularity of his fiction. Most of Maugham’s works could be adapted to satisfy the tastes of moviegoers and the demands of the Hays Office censors, if not the expectations of their author. 

About the Author

Robert Calder is an emeritus professor of English at the University of Saskatchewan. Considered by many to be the leading authority on Somerset Maugham, he is the author of several books, including W. Somerset Maugham and the Quest for Freedom and Willie: The Life of W. Somerset Maugham

Praise For…

“An astute and thought-provoking account of Somerset Maugham’s relationship to cinema. Comprehensive in scope, Calder’s book gathers together basic production information, chiefly on scripting and casting, on a large number of films derived from the works of one of the most popular and prolific writers of the twentieth century.”—Russell Campbell, author of Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema

“A thorough, well-researched study of all the films (and TV shows) based on Maugham, together with sharp critical appraisals and information about their production and initial reception. I learned something on almost every page.”—James Naremore, author of More than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts

Product Details
ISBN: 9780299346201
ISBN-10: 029934620X
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication Date: February 13th, 2024
Pages: 306
Language: English
Series: Wisconsin Film Studies