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Trio (1950) Online

Trio (1950) Online
Original Title :
Genre :
Movie / Drama / Romance
Year :
Directror :
Ken Annakin,Harold French
Cast :
James Hayter,Kathleen Harrison,Felix Aylmer
Writer :
Noel Langley,W. Somerset Maugham
Type :
Time :
1h 31min
Rating :
Trio (1950) Online

Three short stories are introduced by author W. Somerset Maugham in the second of his anthology film trilogy. In "The Verger," a church verger of seventeen years is fired by his new straight-laced vicar when it's discovered that he cannot read or write. Forced to make life-altering decisions, the life-long bachelor proposes to his landlady and becomes an entrepreneur. In "Mr. Know-All" an obnoxiously pushy and irrepressibly boorish dealer in jewelry alienates all his fellow passengers on an ocean cruise despite his cheerful nature and generosity, but later is sensitive enough to realize that sacrificing his ego at a key moment is important to a woman's happiness. "The Sanatorium" revolves around the lives of tuberculosis patients at an exclusive Scottish sanatorium including a pair of doomed lovers who choose quality over quantity of life.
Cast overview, first billed only:
James Hayter James Hayter - Albert Foreman - Coach Driver (segment "The Verger")
Kathleen Harrison Kathleen Harrison - Emma Brown Foreman (segment "The Verger")
Felix Aylmer Felix Aylmer - Bank Manager (segment "The Verger")
Lana Morris Lana Morris - Gladys (segment "The Verger")
Michael Hordern Michael Hordern - Vicar (segment "The Verger")
Glyn Houston Glyn Houston - Ted (segment "The Verger")
Eliot Makeham Eliot Makeham - Sexton (segment "The Verger")
Henry Edwards Henry Edwards - Church Warden (segment "The Verger")
Anne Crawford Anne Crawford - Mrs. Ramsey (segment "Mr. Know-All")
Nigel Patrick Nigel Patrick - Max Kelada (segment "Mr. Know-All")
Naunton Wayne Naunton Wayne - Mr. Ramsey (segment "Mr. Know-All")
Wilfrid Hyde-White Wilfrid Hyde-White - Mr. Gray (segment "Mr. Know-All")
Clive Morton Clive Morton - Ship's Captain (segment "Mr. Know-All")
Bill Travers Bill Travers - Fellowes (segment "Mr. Know-All") (as Bill Linden-Travers)
Dennis Harkin Dennis Harkin - Captain's steward (segment "Mr. Know-All")

Andrew Crawford was originally going to star but dropped out before filming.

User reviews



Made after QUARTET was, TRIO continued the quality of the earlier film versions of the short stories by Maugham. Here the three stories are THE VERGER, MR. KNOW-IT-ALL, and SANITORIUM. The first two are comic (THE VERGER is like a prolonged joke, but one with a good pay-off), and the last more serious (as health issues are involved). Again the author introduces the film and the stories.

James Hayter, soon to have his signature role as Samuel Pickwick, is the hero in THE VERGER. He holds this small custodial-type job in a church, but the new Vicar (Michael Hordern) is an intellectual snob. When he hears Hayter has no schooling he fires him. Hayter has saved some money, so he tells his wife (Kathleen Harrison) he fancies buying a small news and tobacco shop. He has a good eye, and his store thrives. Soon he has a whole chain of stores. When his grandchild is christened by Hordern, the latter is amazed to see how prosperous his ex-Verger. The payoff is when bank manager Felix Aylmer meets with Hayter about diversifying his investments. I'll leave it to you to hear the unintentional but ironic coda of the meeting.

According to Maugham he met a man like Max Kelada (Nigel Patrick) on a cruise. In MR. KNOW-IT-ALL Kelada is a splashy, friendly, and slightly overbearing type from the Middle East who is on a business trip (regarding jewelry) by steamship. His state-room mate is Mr. Grey (the ever quiet and proper Wilfred Hyde-White) who is somewhat, silently disapproving of Max. Max likes to enliven things, and soon is heavily involved in the ship's entertainment. At this point the story actually resembles part of the plot of the non-Maugham story and film CHINA SEAS (1935), as Max makes a bet that he can tell a real piece of jewelry from a fake (after insisting that a piece of jewelry he spotted is real). I won't describe the way Max rises to the occasion.

SANITORIUM is the longest segment. Roland Culver plays "Ashenden" (the fictional alter-ego of Maugham - a writer and one time spy as in Hitchcock's THE SECRET AGENT). Here he has to use a sanitorium for a couple of months for his health. He finds a remarkable crew of people, including Jean Simmons as a frail but beautiful young woman, Finlay Currie as an irascible Scotsman, John Laurie as a second irascible Scotsman who is "at war" with Currie, Raymond Huntley as a quiet patient who only shows his internal anger at his situation when his wife shows up, and Michael Rennie as a young man who has a serious life threatening illness. Culver watches as three stories among these characters play out to their conclusions. The last, dealing with Simmons and Rennie, is ironic but deeply moving.

It was a dandy follow-up to the earlier QUARTET, and well worth watching.


My favourite of this obscure series is Mr Knowall. Nigel Patrick gives a professional performance as the irritable , but ultimately likeable Mr kalada... the final sequences are wonderfully constructed and tense.


Given the title, this first follow-up to QUARTET (1948) obviously reduces the number of W. Somerset Maugham stories which comprise the film. The author still turns up to introduce the episodes, but there’s no epilogue this time around; by the way, while the script of the original compendium gave sole credit to R.C. Sheriff, here Maugham himself also lent a hand in the adaptation, as well as Noel Langley (though it’s unclear whether they contributed one segment each or else worked in unison). As can be expected, much of the crew of QUARTET has been retained for the second installment – though this also extends to at least three cast members, namely Naunton Wayne, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Felix Aylmer (the last two had bit parts in the episode from QUARTET entitled “The Colonel’s Lady”). While TRIO ultimately emerges to be a lesser achievement than its predecessor (slightly unbalanced by the third story which takes up more than half the running-time), it’s still done with the utmost care, acted with verve by a stellar cast and is solidly enjoyable into the bargain.

“The Verger” tells of a church sexton (James Hayter) – for which the story’s title is another word – who’s dismissed after 17 years of service by the new parish priest (Michael Hordern) simply because he’s illiterate. Rather than rest on his laurels, despite his age, he not only takes a wife (his landlady, played by Kathleen Harrison) but opens a tobacconist shop strategically placed in a lengthy stretch of road where no such service is offered – and, with business flourishing, this is developed into a whole chain. The last scene, then, sees him pay a visit to bank manager Felix Aylmer who, not only is surprised to learn of Hayter’s lack of education, but is prompted to ask him what his other interests were – to which the wealthy (and respected) tobacconist replies, with some measure of irony, that he had the calling to be a verger!

The second episode, “Mr. Know-All”, is the shortest but also perhaps the most engaging: a voyage at sea is utterly beleaguered by the insufferable presence of a pompous young man (Nigel Patrick), British despite his foreign-sounding name of Kelada, who professes to be an authority on virtually every subject under the sun. Naunton Wayne and Wilfrid Hyde-White are the two passengers who have to put up with him the most – the latter because he shares a cabin with the man and the former in view of Patrick’s attentions to his pretty wife (Anne Crawford). During a fancy-dress party, however, the passengers decide to enact their ‘revenge’ on Kelada by having one of them impersonate him (a jest which he naturally doesn’t appreciate)!; still, it’s here that he contrives to show a decent side to his character – told by Crawford that the necklace she’s wearing is an imitation, Wayne challenges Patrick to name its price…but the latter realizes immediately that it’s the genuine article and that this would compromise Crawford’s position if he were to tell, so Kelada allows himself to be publicly ridiculed rather than expose the fact that the woman probably has a secret admirer!

As can also be deduced from the title, “Sanatorium” deals with the myriad patients at such a place – run by Andre' Morell; the protagonist is a new intern, Roland Culver, who wistfully observes the various goings-on. The narrative, in fact, highlights in particular three separate strands of plot – one humorous (the ‘feud’ between two aged Scots long resident at the sanatorium, played by Finlay Currie and John Laurie), one melodramatic (the erratic relationship between disgruntled patient Raymond Huntley and long-suffering but devoted wife Betty Ann Davies) and one bittersweet (the romance between naïve but charming Jean Simmons and dashing cad Michael Rennie which, in spite of having pretty much everything against it including the fact that Morell has diagnosed Simmons as a ‘lifer’ while Rennie only has a few years left to him, leads the couple to the altar).


TRIO was the Somerset Maugham follow-up to QUARTET a few years earlier.

Again, it's three of his short stories told with wit and humor and a good observation of human frailties and eccentricities in a trio of tales populated by stars like KATHLEEN HARRISON, MICHAEL HAYTER, JEAN SIMMONS, MICHAEL RENNIE, ROLAND CULVER and FINLAY CURRIE.

The first about the village VERGER is brief and to the point with charming performances from Michael Hayter as The Verger who loses his job when it's discovered that he can neither read or write but then becomes a successful businessman; the second is about everyone's worst nightmare--having to put up with an obnoxious Know-All on a cruise vacation (splendidly played by NIGEL PATRICK); and the third, and most satisfying for me, is SANATORIUM, a segment having to do with the lives of people spending time in a sanatorium, with some moving scenes between JEAN SIMMONS and MICHAEL RENNIE as the doomed lovers.

Only big flaw in the sanatorium sequence is the healthy and robust appearance of both Simmons and Rennie makes it hard to believe the dire situation they are in. This is easily overlooked because the story is extremely well played by a very capable cast of British players.

Summing up: Well worth seeing.


Somerset Maugham introduces three short stories that he has authored. The first two are particularly humorous and uplifting and a bit ironic and they are also very short at about 20 minutes each. The first concerns a man over 50 who is fired by the church for which he works because he cannot read and refuses to learn. At first blush he'd seem to be too stubborn for his own good, but he turns out to be more adaptable than his former employer could ever dream. The second involves a fellow with a tremendous ego who at the same time is very generous as he takes a shipboard journey. In the end he must choose between his generosity and his ego as his dominant trait.

The third tale, at about 40 minutes in length, had the potential to be the downbeat one in the bunch and doesn't sound that intriguing at first - it involves the lives of a group of sufferers of "consumption" - tuberculosis - that are being treated in a sanatorium, which was a long term process prior to the introduction of antibiotics. This one turns out to be as upbeat as a story could possibly be in such a setting. The practical in me has me asking a couple of questions that go unanswered. First, there are several patients who may or may not be recovered who apparently have set this place up as their home of preference since they have been there so long and have made social ties they do not wish to break. Why would any doctor of scruples allow this to go on? The sanatorium is spacey and charming and doesn't seem at all medical or antiseptic, so I can see how lonely people with an illness in common wouldn't want to leave, but it seems like it would be the doctor's obligation to force the patients back out into the real world once cured. Second, since apparently recovery takes months or years, who is paying for all of this? Money never comes into the equation as a concern for any of the patients.

I'd recommend this one. Some of Maugham's work can be dark and depressing but these three stories are quite uplifting.


Trio's vignettes were insightful and quite enjoyable. It was curious seeing so many soon to be famous actors when they were very young. The performances and attention to detail were wonderful to watch.

Observation. In film it isn't necessary that source material be in alignment with the contemporary era to be interesting or worthwhile. "Small morality" storytelling is quaint (or coy) only in the eye of the beholder--thankfully. Story content--well told--can overcome it's time, subject or place.

Ironically, there are quite a few contemporary films today that have not overcome the conventions or cutting edge mores of the present era. Inserting "small morality" content--occasionally--might provide a dimension lacking.


This is actually a trilogy of 3 of Somerset Maugham's short tales. The first one is The Verger, which is about 15 minutes long and very enjoyable. After 17 years Albert Foreman is laid off from his church job because he can't read nor write. So what does he do? Opens a tobacco shop, of course!

The second is Mr. Know-All which was actually a story I had read for school 6 years ago and instantly forgotten, until I heard the familiar introduction. Another 15 minute one, and also very good. It worked better on film than in a book for me, but then perhaps that's because I was only 14 the last time, afterall.

The 3rd one is nearly a let-down. Almost an hour in length, it simply drags. It's not all that bad, but not as quick and snappy as the last 2. I watched the first quarter hour of it and then skipped forward to the last quarter hour, and found that it still made sense and really I hadn't missed a thing!

Overall I give them 8, 9, and 6 out of 10, respectively.


The makers have chosen the best people for the job, and set the scene wonderfully. Every interior is full of detail that tells you all about the people who live in it. Whether the period is the 20s (the first story), the present (ie 1950) for the middle story, or the 1910s (the last), costumes and settings are lovingly observed and created. I love the fussy costumes of the two old ladies in the sanatorium - exquisite lace overlaid by the finest Shetland shawls. Roland Culver as Ashenden is very appealing, but never mind the soppy young lovers, it's Raymond Huntley as the man who resents his wife's health and independence who harrows our emotions. He usually played comical, pompous types, but here he is subtle and convincing and very impressive. The China Seas (great 30s film starring Gable and Harlow) stole the plot from the Mr Know All episode (and also nicked a story by Kipling). I wish we saw more of Naunton Wayne as the jealous husband - though he has a good moment looking melancholy in a Mexican hat. I love that posh bird who plays his wife, too.


The second of three movies showcasing the short stories of W. Somerset Maugham, "Trio" gives us three more stories, the first two of which are light and frothy things that fairly dance off the screen. The second, "Mr. Know-All," is remarkable for its wonderful humanness. It seems all the characters who must deal with this Passenger from Hell are quite content to suffer the fool gladly; their comments to each other about Mr. Kelada are neither mean nor cruel, only witty and downright philosophical. I enjoyed this story (and its ending, celebrating people at their finest) immensely. The third, and longest, story, "The Sanitorium" failed to reach beyond the grinding melodrama of, say, "The High and the Mighty" -- a bunch of people thrown together show what they're made of. The rather sappy ending didn't help. But your mileage may vary, of course. Luckily, good solid film-making raises this problematic movie higher than it might otherwise have landed.


Quartet was very successful on its release in 1948 so no one was surprised when it was followed by Trio featuring a further three adaptations of short stories by Somerset Maugham - it is of course feasible that a sequel was on the cards from the first, subject to the reception accorded Quartet. Once again Maugham does the honors narration-wise and we are offered two light-hearted romps and one of somewhat more substance. Mr. Know-All is a vehicle for the always excellent Nigel Patrick who is in his element as the ultimate fellow passenger from hell. Having flaunted the hide of a rhinoceros for twenty minutes or so he then reveals a sensitive nature though in order to do so Ann Crawford is obliged to behave with unrealistic foolishness in opting to wear (in her husband's company) a valuable pearl necklace given to her by a lover. The eponymous Verger is dismissed from his post because of his illiteracy yet has the last laugh by becoming an entrepreneur. Sanitarium focuses on such an establishment, always a good bet for an author and exploited beautifully by Terence Rattigan in Separate Tables, which allows us to get to know a cross-section of inhabitants whilst focusing on just two. Whilst both competent actors Michael Rennie and Jean Simmons fail to convince as lovers though we do nevertheless respond to their cavalier gesture. A worthy successor to Quartet.


Not everybody may like W Somerset Maugham's writing, have seen criticisms of it not holding up well. For me though, have always appreciated it for its sharp prose, charm and insight. Don't feel his work has been adapted enough on film, but when it is it's interesting to view. Particular examples being the three films in the portmanteau trilogy 'The Aesop's Fables Maugham Concerto Trilogy'.

Of which the second is 1950's 'Trio', sandwiched between 1948's 'Quartet' and 1951's 'Encore'. Said for 'Quartet' that all three films are well worth watching, with that film being my personal favourite due to the sublime "The Colonel's Lady". And that is definitely true for 'Trio', this time comprising of three segments, "The Verger", "Mr Know-All" and "Sanitorium". Like 'Quartet', it's not even all the way through but considering the type of film it is (where there is always going to be at least segment that is not as good as the others), that's not surprising. Again though it is a very good film with little to criticise as an overall whole.

The only big criticism is that from personal opinion the Raymond Huntley and Betty Ann Davies part of "Sanitorium" is somewhat on the melodramatic side. The film felt slightly too short.

However, the good things far outweigh and they are numerous and big. Of the three segments my personal favourite, like others here, is the charmingly ironic and amusing "Mr Know-All" thanks to the comic talents of Nigel Patrick. Have much praise too for the truly poignant Jean Simmons and Michael Rennie portion of "Sanitorium" thanks to the rich character development of those two characters and the truly beautiful way Simmons and Rennie play their roles. One shouldn't overlook "Mr Verger", with James Hayter and Kathleen Harrison on sparkling form. The quality of the performances are a major asset here.

As is the beautifully balanced writing in distinctive Maugham style, the charm, the insight, the ironic humour are all there with the last being especially well done and a major reason as to why "Mr Know-All" so well as a segment. For such short stories, it is hard not to marvel at how well written the characters are, especially Simmons' and Rennie's. Maugham himself introduces and bookends thoughtfully and the Oscar nomination for Best Sound is hardly inexplicable, though actually don't consider it the very best asset of 'Trio'. Like 'Quartet', 'Trio' is beautifully made and directed, with things never becoming dull or directed with too much of a heavy hand, the lightness present in 'Quartet' present here too.

Overall, really enjoyed this too. 8/10 Bethany Cox


Music played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Muir Mathieson. Producer: Antony Darnborough. Executive producer: Sydney Box. Copyright 4 September 1950 by General Film Distributors, Ltd. A Sydney Box Production for Gainsborough Pictures, London. Presented by J. Arthur Rank. Released in the USA by Paramount: June 1951. New York opening at the Sutton: 10 October 1950. U.K. release through General Film Distributors: 4 September 1950. Australian release through British Empire Films: 22 February 1952. 92 minutes. (Available on an excellent Network DVD).

NOTES: One of the Ten Best Films of 1950. — Bosley Crowther in The New York Times. Number 15 box-office attraction at Australian ticket windows for 1952. 17th most popular film released in Great Britain in 1950 (based on box-office receipts).

Second of the three portmanteau movies, based on short stories by W. Somerset Maugham. The others, Quartet (1948) and Encore (1952), are also available on Network DVD.

COMMENT: What a film! The critics — highbrow, middlebrow, lowbrow — all loved it and the public flocked to it in droves. What's more important, it's still a powerful, effective and engrossing entertainment to- day.

There are four reasons for this success. One, it's superbly written. Second, it's beautifully acted by a star-studded cast, — talent in every role from the most minor extras to the major principals. Three, it's directed with unobtrusive finesse and consummate polish by Annakin and French, who both know how to get the best out of their players and put a story across with maximum impact. And four, Box and Darnborough have produced it with loving care.

This film also has a wonderfully atmospheric music score, superlative photography, sharp film editing, and attractive sets, — in short, creative artistry in every department.

OTHER VIEWS: "Trio" offers crisp human comedy in its first two sections and the human drama of life in a sanatorium for tuberculosis in its third. And even in this episode, there is a good deal of the finely etched, closely observed character comedy that is typical of Somerset Maugham. — Duncan Blair in Picturegoer.

This well-chosen selection of Somerset Maugham short stories is an admirable follow-up to "Quartet". It bears out my contention that short dramas and comedies can be made into first-class screen entertainment. — Lionel Collier in Picturegoer.

What a pleasant change it is to find a film written as well as this one! Maugham is a master storyteller and together with R.C. Sheriff and Noel Langley he has adapted another three of his short stories to the screen. In my opinion, the last story, "Sanatorium", is allowed to run too long and could do with some trimming. Harold French's meticulous direction doesn't help matters either, albeit the episode is very capably acted, particularly by Finlay Currie and John Laurie as a couple of quarrelsome Scotsmen. The Scottish locations are also most attractive.

It might be complained that the other stories are no more than little bits of whimsy or character conceits, but how well Hayter carries off the title role of the Verger! In my opinion, Nigel Patrick is much less successful as Mr. Know-All — he is somewhat handicapped by an obviously phony accent, and Annakin's stolid direction which I feel is somewhat lacking in imagination.

In all three stories, the support players are provided with some scrumptious dialogue and have a grand time. Credits are capable and production values leave nothing to be desired. — JHR writing as George Addison.


Two years earlier, the film Quartet showcased four W. Somerset Maugham short stories, each introduced by the very charming and humorous author. In 1950, Trio was released, and three more Maugham stories were brought to the big screen.

The first two stories, "The Verger" and "Mr. Know All", were very delightful. Cute, with recognizable character actors like Kathleen Harrison and Wilfrid Hyde-White, and each containing surprise twists to add to the plot. I adored the first two stories, and looked forward to "The Sanatorium", hoping it would be just as enjoyable. To my surprise, it wasn't at all like the preceding two stories. A strict drama, it took place in a tuberculosis sanatorium, exploring the lives of each ill patient. This one could have easily been expanded to the length of a feature film; the supporting characters were all so interesting, I wished they'd been given more time to explore their motivations and story lines. The main storyline was the romance between Jean Simmons and Michael Rennie, but even though they were given the most screen time, I still would have wished for more character development and twists and turns in the plot.

All in all, I'd recommend a viewing of Trio, but if your tastes lean towards cute rather than tragic, I'd recommend you only watch the first two stories. They're very sweet. On the other hand, if you'd like to watch a sad story, you can skip the first two and watch only the last. That's the great thing about a short story compilation; there's something for everyone!


This is the second British Rank film to adapt the stories of Sommerset Maugham to film. All but one story from 'Quartet' does not travel well into the contempory era; and the actors speech is decidedly "clipped", as only British pre-1950's actors delivery can be. In anycase 'Trio' seems tighter and more filmic than the first film adaptation.

One of the problems these two films can't overcome is that their source material was written 25-30 years prior to the films. Consequently, by the 1950's Maughm's (pre-war) popularist "small morality" storyteling seemed rather quaint, if not downright coy.