Noël Coward. Always with the eyes, and that little raise of one eyebrow. He had such an expressive face. Today let’s give the boys their due in this Tantalizing Tuesday with a man that I only knew of as a playwright , then found out he was so much more. I would give my left ti…..big toe for an ounce of his talent.
Reviews are mixed about his singing voice, but no one can argue about his songwriting abilities. This song is still being covered over 80 years later.
His body of work is so huge and varied, that I won’t cover all of it here. But I’ll hit a few high points that tickle my fancy. I first noticed Noël Coward acting in a film called The Astonished Heart, based on a play written by, you guessed it, Noël Coward. He played Christian Faber, an aging psychiatrist whose wife is played by the fabulous Celia Johnson. Faber falls in love with his wife’s best friend when the former is away with her sick mum. Here is a long-ish clip of the film. If you start at 4:10 you can see Margaret Leighton’s beautiful gown, and catch a some of their banter as they determine how to proceed in the relationship. I find his style of writing very sharp and to the point, no wasted words.
These wonderful old British films from Gainsborough Pictures are hard to find. It was available on Netflix and Amazon Prime for brief interludes, but at the time of this writing, it is not available even for purchase of the DVD. His original one-act play is on YouTube, a much shorter version of the play than in the film.
Let’s have some fun with another song that Coward wrote, Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Rappers should hope to twist the tongue as well as he did.
When the second world war broke out, Coward left the theatre to engage himself in the war effort. In part 2, we will talk about his duties during the war and how this went over with the powers that be and the public.
I’ll close with another piece of his songwriting, “World Weary”. Me too, Noël. Me too.
When I’m feeling weary and blue, I’m only too
Glad to be left alone
Dreaming of a place in the sun when day is done
Far from a telephone
Hardly ever see the sky
Buildings seem to grow so high
Give me somewhere peaceful and grand
Where all the land
Slumbers in monotone