Separate Tables (film)
Original film poster
|Directed by||Delbert Mann|
|Produced by||Harold Hecht|
|Written by||Terence Rattigan
John Michael Hayes (uncredited)
|Music by||David Raksin (score)
Harry Warren and Harold Adamson (song, "Separate Tables")
|Edited by||Marjorie Fowler|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$3.1 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)
244,284 admissions (France)
Separate Tables is a 1958 American drama film starring Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Burt Lancaster, and Wendy Hiller, based on two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan that were collectively known by this name. Niven and Hiller won Academy Awards for their performances. The picture was directed by Delbert Mann and adapted for the screen by Rattigan, John Gay and an uncredited John Michael Hayes. Mary Grant and Edith Head designed the film's costumes.
Major David Angus Pollock (David Niven) fails to steal an article about himself in the West Hampshire Weekly News. His attempt to keep the article from the eyes of the other guests at the residential hotel only succeeds in heightening their awareness of it, particularly Mrs Railton-Bell (Gladys Cooper), a martinet, and the more relaxed and compassionate Lady Matheson (Cathleen Nesbitt). The two women read that Major Pollock has pleaded guilty to sexually harassing several young women in a theatre. However, the filed complaints are, in themselves, questionable. Mrs Railton-Bell wants Major Pollock expelled from the hotel and holds a meeting with other long-term residents to decide the issue before presenting it to the manager, Miss Pat Cooper (Wendy Hiller). Mrs Railton-Bell leads the meeting arguing for the Major's expulsion, and despite the opposing views of the other residents, she informs Miss Cooper.
Anne (Rita Hayworth) and John (Burt Lancaster) meet outside. Anne coolly teases John, informing him that she is engaged; John tells her he is engaged as well, but does not disclose that he is engaged to Miss Cooper. John claims that though Anne could have married other men who were wealthier and more important, she wanted to marry a man in a lower economic class in order to manipulate and degrade him fully. Despite this, John and Anne admit they are still attracted to each other. She asks him to come to her room.
As they walk into the hotel, Miss Cooper tells Anne she has a phone call. Miss Cooper asks John, knowing Anne is his ex-wife, to reevaluate the real reason for Anne's visit. John defends Anne at first, claiming that all his misfortunes are his own fault, but changes his mind when Miss Cooper tells him Anne is talking on the phone to his publisher, the only person who knows John and Miss Cooper are engaged. John confronts Anne in her bedroom. She attempts to seduce him, but he tells her that in the light, he can see that she has aged; without her physical beauty, it will be impossible for her to manipulate people. She begs him to stay, but he runs out of the hotel after striking Anne at the top of the staircase. Anne has an emotional breakdown, and Miss Cooper comforts her. Anne reveals that she is not really engaged and has been abusing sleeping pills to ease her pain, often during the day.
The next morning, Mrs Railton-Bell's daughter Sibyl (Deborah Kerr) tells Major Pollock that she knows what he did. He explains that he has always been fearful of people and that it is easier for him to be familiar with strangers. Major Pollock tells Sibyl that he and she get along well with each other because they are both afraid of life. As he returns to his room to pack, Sibyl worries he will not find a new home.
Miss Cooper tells John, who returns in the morning, that Anne is emotionally unwell, and asks him to see her before she checks out of the hotel. After John leaves, Miss Cooper attempts to persuade Major Pollock to stay, but he refuses. The hotel residents eat their breakfast at separate tables in the dining room. John and Anne appear to reconcile, but do not know if they will ever be happy, together or apart.
When Major Pollock enters the room, there is an awkward silence until John greets him. The others do the same and cheerfully converse with him. Mrs Railton-Bell is angered at this and demands Sibyl leave with her. Sibyl refuses and insists on remaining to finish her breakfast. After her mother leaves, she starts to talk to Major Pollock, who decides to stay at the hotel.
- Rita Hayworth as Anne Shankland
- Deborah Kerr as Sibyl Railton-Bell
- David Niven as Major David Angus Pollock
- Burt Lancaster as John Malcolm
- Wendy Hiller as Pat Cooper
- Gladys Cooper as Mrs. Maud Railton-Bell
- Cathleen Nesbitt as Lady Matheson
- Felix Aylmer as Mr. Fowler
- Rod Taylor as Charles
- Audrey Dalton as Jean
- May Hallatt as Miss Meacham
- Priscilla Morgan as Doreen
Production and awards
The film took the two plays and opened them up to create a screenplay that introduced some new parts, and stars Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Wendy Hiller, Burt Lancaster, and May Hallatt, who already played Miss Meacham on stage. The film was nominated for seven Oscars including Best Picture, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Black and White), and Best Dramatic or Comedy Score, and won two (Niven for Best Actor and Hiller for Best Supporting Actress).
Separate Tables was released to DVD by MGM Home Video on December 11, 2001 as a Region 1 widescreen DVD and by Kino Lorber (under license from MGM) to Blu-ray on July 29, 2014.