VenueWalter Reade Theater
Due to a problem with the print, Bitter Sweet will be shown on DVD. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Bitter Sweet was arguably Coward’s most successful musical on both sides of the Atlantic. In London, the heroine, Sari, was played by the American Peggy Wood, and on Broadway by the English Evelyn Laye. Both scored triumphs. One world war was becoming a memory; a second was not yet a real threat. The world was in the mood for romance, escapism, nostalgia, and Bitter Sweet provided it. It was a love letter from another era. The Vortex, Hay Fever, Fallen Angels, Private Lives, Cavalcade and Design for Living were behind Coward and he could do little wrong. English director/producer Herbert Wilcox had first worked with leading lady Anna Neagle a year earlier; he would direct all her subsequent films and they would eventually marry. Dame Anna—as she would become—was held in the kind of regard in England as, say, Helen Hayes was in the U.S. She played a variety of heroines—Florence Nightingale, Nell Gwynne, Queen Victoria—but her Sari Linden in Bitter Sweet has a sincerity and simplicity many of her later films lacked. This becomes all the more apparent when one views MGM’s travesty of a Technicolor remake from 1940, of which Coward recalled that Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy “sing relentlessly from beginning to end looking like a rawhide suitcase and a rocking horse respectively.” We spare you that. Instead, look at Anna Neagle, who looks like… Sari Linden.