French Without Tears

Definition

Theater

  • A light comedy by Terence Rattigan that opened in 1936 at the Criterion Theatre, London. The production made a star of Rex Harrison,establishing his suave throwaway style of delivery; it also featured Kay Hammond and Trevor Howard.

    French Without Tears was a great success despite disastrousrehearsals, a torrential downpour on the opening night, and Rattiganbeing hit on the head by the descending curtain when he took a curtaincall. The play is set in a French resort, where five young Englishmenare taking a crash course in French to enhance their professional prospects. Rattigan makes fun of the art of translating idiom, having one character render"She has ideas above her station" as "Elle a des idéesau-dessus de sa gare". Harrison played the part of the Hon. Alan Howard, whose portrait of an ideal woman runs:

    First of all, she must not be a cow. Secondly, she will beable to converse freely and intelligently with me on all subjects...Thirdly,she will have all the masculine virtues and none of the feminine vices.
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