French Without Tears

Kay Hammond & Roland Culver in the original Criterion Theatre production,1936

French Without Tears is a comic play written by a 25-year-old Terence Rattigan in 1936. It takes place in a cram school for adults needing to acquire French for business reasons. The play was a success on its London debut, establishing Rattigan as a dramatist. Critics thought it 'gay, witty, thoroughly contemporary ... with a touch of lovable truth behind all its satire'.[1] It ran for over 1,000 performances in London and over 100 in New York.[2] It also established Rex Harrison as a major star. Scattered throughout are Franglais phrases and schoolboy misunderstandings of the French language.

A film version, directed by Anthony Asquith and starring Ray Milland, was released in 1940.[3] In 1960 Rattigan himself refashioned the work as the musical Joie de Vivre but it was not a success.[4]

A television production was featured in the BBC's Play of the Month series in May 1976, which stars Nigel Havers, Anthony Andrews, and David Robb.[5]


  1. "French Without Tears by Terence Rattigan, Kay Hammond & Roland Culver".
  2. "Terence Rattigan".
  3. "French without Tears". BFI.
  4. Wright, Adrian (2012). West End Broadway : the Golden Age of American musical in London. Woodbridge, England: Boydell & Brewer. p. 163. ISBN 9781843837916.
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