The Vortex – 1927 | 60 mins | Romance | B&W
The lack of speech proves a distinct handicap throughout The Vortex, and the facetious titles sprinkled are poor compensation for Coward’s special brand of repartee’ and lancing wit. But Coward’s material survives – material far more sophisticated, provocative and pertinent than the cinema at this point could generally find for itself.
The Vortex presents a savage portrait of frivolous society hooked on appearances, fashion and youth vortex of beastliness, in Coward’s words – though the characters are all somewhat laundered to meet the demands of film censorship Florence (Willette Kershaw) is still the vain middle-aged woman doting unreservedly on the young boy Tom, though she never openly admits his lover status, as she does in play. The bohemian life of her son Nicky (Ivor Novello) is also rendered more innocuous; here he trembles on the brink of drug addiction rather than drowning in the vice from the curtain rise. The film also concludes with far more optimism and forgiveness than Coward offered on stage. Where Florence and Nicky ushered in the final applause with desperate promises to improve their lifestyles, they now stand in close-up with Nicky’s long-suffering fiancée, locked in a mutual, unconvincing embrace.
Ivor Novello: Nicky Lancaster
Frances Doble: Bunty Mainwaring
Dorothy Fane: Helen Saville
Kinsey Peile: Pouncefort Quentin
Simeon Stuart: David Lancaster
Julie Suedo: Anna Vollof