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Mad About the Boy – the Noël Coward Story

Film review by Val Ruloff, 6 July 23

The Master is surely front and centre, to the fore, in the limelight with name writ large right up there in neon lights over the theatre marquee in this production about Noël Coward's life and work.

Of course, makes sense, what else to be expected in a biographical documentary film? However, it's all in his given title - "The Master ".  This jumps out immediately, is established at the very start of the film and remains in evidence throughout.

The accolades are well earned and come thick and fast as the film unfolds and it becomes apparent just how prolific Noël Coward was, over a career spanning half a century and influencing so much of our culture, art and music. The Master readily adds his own voice to the chorus of admirers and is quick to offer his own quoted opinion of his "talent", when given the opportunity. ë

The roll call of names making contributions in the film as peers and colleagues of the great man is impressive. Those featured include: Sir David Lean, Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, Gertrude Lawrence, Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir Richard Attenborough, Sir David Frost, Lord Louis Mountbatten, King George VI, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, the Queen Mother, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, David Niven, Sir John Mills, Harold Pinter, John Osborne, Dame Vanessa Redgrave, Dame Maggie Smith, Sir Alec Guinness to name but a few .

The number of icons listed was certainly not lost on audience members, including mother and daughter Terri and Amanda, who spoke after the film and offered their quotes about the revelation this list of famous names provided .... due to the era Terri experienced when growing up and her familiarity with those faces, as well as an introduction and new information for Amanda.

The archive film footage and documentary sources are excellent, with material including Noël Coward's own home movies. The film is fascinating and completely engrossing. 

This was easily achieved with a subject as interesting as Noël Coward, especially with such a story on offer and such a varied life to be portrayed.

It is delightful, of course, to be regaled with Noël Coward witticisms and humour. The film really does not disappoint here ... it is jam packed with quotes, one liners, observations and comments from the man himself.

The poignant events and difficult times are outlined very clearly too.

It is certainly a bonus that Mad About The Boy - The Noël Coward Story is being shown now, coming along to whet the appetite for Private Lives a bit later this year.


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