Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Lunch at the usual time

A play by Terence Rattigan - usually perfomed in two one-act plays, in which the same actor performes the male main characters and the same actrice the female main characters - became a movie, directed by Delbert Mann which brought David Niven the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role with the shortest performance (16 minutes!) on screen that ever won this price: SEPARATE TABLES. (1958)

In a nutshell:

Serveral people are living in a little boarding house in England - some of them for years. Pat Cooper (Wendy Hiller), the landlady, has to find out that her secret fiancé John Malcolm (Burt Lancaster), still cares for his ex-wife (Rita Hayworth) and the longtime tennant Mrs. Railton-Bell (Gladys Cooper) discovers that Major Pollock (David Niven) - to whom her timid and prudish daughter Sybil (Deborah Kerr) is secretly attracted - is no Major at all and is pleaded guilty that he badgded women in a cinema. Now Mrs. Railton-Bell does everything in her power to evict him out.

Watch out for:
David Niven's and Deborah Kerr's performance! It's the cat's pjyamas!!


  • Wendy Hiller also received an Acadamy Award for her performance.
  • Gladys Cooper was the most popular Pin Up Girl for the British in WWI. She and Cathleen Nesbitt (who played her friend in SEPARATE TABLES) both played the mother of Prof. Higgins (played by Rex Harrison) in MY FAIR LADY - Gladys Cooper in the movie version and Cathleen Nesbitt on Broadway.

  • Though she was introduced with the phrase: "...not a day over 30" Rita Hayworth was actually 40 years old.

  • The pool split Miss Meacham (May Hallat) does was cutted afterwards. It was actually her doing the split and no stand-in was used, though you are not able to see that now.

  • The title song "Separate Tables" became a bestselling single for Vic Damone.

  • Instead of Rita Hayworth Vivien Leigh was designated for the role of Ann Shankland, John Malcolm's ex-wife. She dropped out as her then husband Laurence Olivier didn't assume the direction of this picture.

My favourite feature:

I confess: In thisfilm I don't have an eye for anything but the ensemble.

Scene to see:
The conversation between the Major and Sybil after she learned, that he behaved in a way she can't put up with!

Window shopping:
I'd like to sneak a peek into that fashion magazine that Rita Hayworth pages through.

Quotes Corner:
"I have no couriosity about the working classes."

This film sure is talkative - it has to. After all: This is a play. And for that it may come off a bit tiring if you are not used to films like it.
It was pretty daring in the 1950ies because: It is all about sex and domination. You won't see anything and compared to todays TV-Crime Series as C.S.I. and the like. It seems not to be that dreadful that the Major nudged (!) a women in a cinema - nonetheless molestation starts in little things. Despite that he still engages my sympathie - and that is a bit confusing for me. But as he is pictured as a very VERY inhibited man I feel something like compassion.
And David Niven is incredible! Similarly is Deborah Kerr! You would not believe that this is the same woman that kisses Burt Lancaster in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY in that famous beach scene - she is so a mousy person in SEPARATE TABLES!
And I love Rod Taylor's facial expressions in this movie - his girlfriend (Audrey Dalton) is frequently trying to distract him from learning for his medical exam by seducing him..
Goodbye I'll go and watch another movie - or this one again? -


And as a goody - Gladys Cooper, dream of oh so many soldiers in WWI: Enjoy it, boys! ;"p


  1. Irene,

    I remember watching this movie a few years ago and thought it was a well acted and interesting movie. Of course I'm a huge Deborah Kerr fan, so of course she was solid as usual. But I thought the whole cast was pretty good. Thanks for posting about this rarely talked about movie. I do need to see it again though. Keep em coming Irene. Your blog is fantastic.

  2. I agree with Monty your blog is fantastic, keep up the good work Irene.

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