Coward on Film May 11 – May 13

Coward on Film
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Admission

  • $13 General Public
  • $9 Students & Seniors
  • $8 Members
Films & Showtimes »

Create your own double feature!

  • $20 General Public
    $15 Members, Students & Seniors
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"I'm not very keen on Hollywood. I'd rather have a nice cup of cocoa, really," Noël Coward (1899-1973) wrote in a 1930 letter to his mother. At the time, his verdict was not surprising. Several of his early plays had been filmed by British studios. The plays relied on their witty dialogue; the movies were still silent. In the 1930s, Hollywood did rather better, but Coward’s golden age came in the ‘40s, when he wrote the script and musical score,starred in and co-directed (with David Lean) one of the finest war films ever made, In Which We Serve, and one of the most moving love stories, Brief Encounter, which outranked Casablanca and Gone with the Wind in a recent Guardian newspaper poll. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, he profitably played character parts in other people's films. Told that he invariably “stole” them, Coward replied, “Yes,but it was only petty larceny."

Film was only one of the arrows in Coward’s creative quiver, yet what he achieved on the silver screen would amount to an enviable career for anyone else. As part of this year's citywide Coward Festival, we are pleased to raise a convivial cup of cocoa to Coward On Film. For information about additional Coward festival programs, visit noelcowardinnewyork.com. Series programmed by Richard Peña and Barry Day, editor of The Noël Coward Reader and The Letters of Noël Coward.

Create your own double feature!
Select any two films in the series for just $15 Members, Students & Seniors / $20 General Public. Please note: "Coward the Actor + Our Man in Havana" program on May 13 is not included in the double feature package. Maximum of one ticket per film. Minimum purchase of two films required.

Free Guided Tours:
During the Coward on Film series, curator Brad Rosenstein will offer two guided tours of the concurrent New York Public Library exhibition “Star Quality: The World of Noël Coward,” featuring an extensive selection of manuscripts, paintings, set and costumes designs, costumes, and personal memorabilia from the Coward archive. The tours will be offered on Friday, May 11 at 12:45pm and Saturday, May 12 at 12:30pm at the Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza (next to the Met Opera).

Past Films

The Astonished Heart

The Astonished Heart

Terence Fisher | 1950 | 85 mins

Coward played his last leading role in this adaptation of his own one-act play about a psychiatrist who becomes infatuated with his wife’s friend (Margaret Leighton), with tragic consequences. A flop in its day, belatedly rediscovered as a cult film.

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Bitter Sweet

Bitter Sweet

Herbert Wilcox | 1933 | 93 mins

Due to a problem with the print, Bitter Sweet will be shown on DVD. We apologize for the inconvenience.

A London socialite Anna Neagle falls in love with a poor composer, becomes a dancehall hostess and fends off the amorous advances of a wealthy count in the original film version (vastly superior to M-G-M’s 1940 remake) of Coward’s most successful musical play.

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Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit

David Lean | 1945 | 96 mins

Restored 35mm print!

A writer (Rex Harrison) and his second wife find themselves haunted by the spirit of the first Mrs. Condomine, courtesy of a mischievous medium in the film version of Coward’s biggest stage success.

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Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter

David Lean | 1945 | 86 mins

Restored 35mm print!

The pinnacle of the Coward-Lean collaboration was this seminal romantic drama about the chance meeting of two married people in a railway station, and the not-quite affair that follows.

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Coward the Actor + Our Man in Havana

Coward the Actor + Our Man in Havana

Carol Reed | 1959 | 111 mins

Special program!

Coward scholar and series programmer Barry Day presents an illustrated talk about the playwright’s work in front of the motion picture camera, featuring clips and including a complete screening of Our Man in Havana, co-starring Coward as an insensitive civil servant.

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Design for Living

Design for Living

Ernst Lubitsch | 1933 | 91 mins

Shot down by the censors, Coward’s raunchy ménage-à-trois stage farce became this markedly tamer Lubitsch comedy about a woman (Miriam Hopkins) who can’t decide between the two men (Fredric March and Gary Cooper) who love her.

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In Which We Serve

In Which We Serve

David Lean | 1942 | 114 mins

Opening night! Restored 35mm print!

Coward wrote, stars in and co-directed (with the young David Lean) this landmark war film that follows the crew of a naval warship from its launching to its eventual sinking.

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Private Lives

Sidney Franklin | 1931 | 84 mins

Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery star as ex-spouses who find themselves in adjoining hotel rooms while on honeymoon with their new partners in the delightful film version of Coward’s London and New York stage triumph.

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This Happy Breed

This Happy Breed

David Lean | 1944 | 111 mins

Coward’s middle-class companion piece to the bourgeois Cavalcade, and David Lean’s first solo feature as director, follows a single British family through the Great Depression, the General Strike and the encroaching threat of World War II.

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The Scoundrel

The Scoundrel

Ben Hecht | Charles MacArthur | 1935 | 76 mins

In his largest acting role in an American film, Coward stars as a selfish publisher who dies in a plane crash and subsequently returns to earth for one month in an effort to find someone who truly loved him.

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The Vortex

Adrian Brunel | 1927 | 80 mins

Silent film with live music!

Welsh matinee idol Ivor Novello stars in this somewhat sanitized (by film censors) version of Coward’s play about a drug-addicted composer and his adulterous mother.

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