September 26, 2005

Separate Tables - great actors, good story

Separate TablesYou know, I've always liked this move, this Separate Tables, directed by Delbert Mann. I think this is the kind of story I always like because of the kinds of characters it highlights.

Here, they are all lonely. But more than that, in one of the primary story lines, they are frightened people (Sibyl Railton-Bell and Major Pollock). They are not the usual heroic figures you normally get, which isn't to say there aren't aspects of them that are interesting.

In fact, it's sort of the same reason I always liked Joyce's novel Ulysses - it's the characters of Leopold and Molly Bloom I like in that.

But getting back to Separate Tables ... I wouldn't say it's a great movie but it is worth seeing because it's awfully darn good. And what a great cast: Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth, David Niven and Burt Lancaster. And also, one of my favourites in the movie, Wendy Hiller who won a best supporting actress Oscar for her performance. (This was back in 1958.)

By the way, it's worth listening to Delbert Mann's commentary, if only at the beginning of the film, to hear how he felt about them using the appalling theme song by Vic Damone over the opening credits. It was not supposed to be in the final cut - well, not until the boneheads said screw the director, let's make a board room decision.

It's also interesting for his comments about some other changes that occurred in the film after it was taken out of his hands.

Yes, a movie definitely worth seeing. But a bit low-key by today's standards. Be warned: this ain't no Matrix. (Thank heavens.)

(By the way ... on the subject of Rita Hayworth ... I watched 1957's Fire Down Below, which stars Rita along with Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon. Some nice scenery, the odd good moment, but not an award winner by a long shot. A kind of over-the-top, silly disaster movie - though that's really all in the third act.)

Poor Rita!

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