Separate Tables 1958

From another stage play by that brilliant writer Terence Rattigan and brought to the screen in an expensive production by Burt Lancaster’s Production company – he had a leading role and I have to say that he was mis-cast in my view. The company did, though, put together a Who’s Who of famous actors. Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, Gladys Cooper, Wendy Hiller, Felix Aylmer and David Niven as the Major.

It centred around long stay guests in a small seaside hotel – all different types put together but not necessarily with any perceived warmth for one another. Really a study in loneliness.

Gladys Cooper with Deborah Kerr ABOVE

ABOVE David Niven – as The Major – enters the dining room – in disgrace and fears the reaction of his fellow residents.

ABOVE Deborah Kerr hears the news that The Major will be leaving

Above and Below – The Major enters and proceeds to his usual seat

BELOW – An awkward breakfast with The Major very uncomfortable as the other residents look on

Terence Rattigan is one of my favourite playwrights, his dialogue is so intelligent, and witty, and the storytelling so beautifully constructed.

Along with ‘The Winslow Boy’ and particularly ‘The Browning Version’, ‘Separate Tables’ is a perfect example of Terence Rattigan at his best.

On ‘The Terence Rattigan Collection’ DVD issue there is available many of his best works as done by the BBC over a period of years. There is ‘The Winslow Boy’ with Eric Porter and Alan Badel, and the 1985 adaptation of ‘The Browning Version with Ian Holm and Judi Dench.

This is nowhere near as good as the Michael Redgrave film of 1951 ( one of the finest adaptations of any of Rattigan’s plays )

Then we have what is described as the ‘magnificent 1970 version’ of ‘Separate Tables’. This is reported to be ‘the standout’ of the Terence Rattigan Collection – I have yet to see this version though

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