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Friday, November 18, 2011

Separate Tables (1958)

At an English seaside hotel during the off season, the stories of several disparate characters plays out. They include an aging fashion model (Rita Hayworth), her alcoholic ex (Burt Lancaster), a spinster (Deborah Kerr) dominated by her mother (Gladys Cooper), an ex-military man (David Niven in his Oscar winning performance) with some dark secrets and the lonely hotel manager (Wendy Hiller, also an Oscar winner for her performance). Based on the London and Broadway hit by Terence Rattigan which consisted of two one act plays with two actors playing the leads in both, the film wisely combines the stories into one cohesive whole. While director Delbert Mann (MARTY) hasn't shaken the theatrical origins (the film was entirely shot on a sound stage and has a deliberate artificial look), the drama is engrossing enough and the acting is so superb so that it doesn't matter. A solid, well crafted drama of the kind they rarely write or make anymore. The excellent Oscar nominated score is by David Raksin. With Rod Taylor, Audrey Dalton, Felix Aylmer, Cathleen Nesbitt and May Hallatt (the only cast member who starred in the London, Broadway and film).

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