Separate Tables (1958)
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David Niven's story arc in this was perfectly played out.
Based on a hit play, Separate Tables presents us with an all-star cast playing miserable characters all staying at the same seaside hotel (most as permanent residents), and we weave in and out of their personal dramas, some of them intersecting, but not all. As the title suggests, they are islands of ones or twos, alone in their situations, and yet living as a community. And that's very true emotionally. What separates them is internal, an inability to properly engage with others, which the play presents variably for each character. The way their anxieties manifest is especially varied and well-observed, and though Deborah Kerr is an obvious stand-out on that score, Burt Lancaster's own particular malaise is to me the most relatable and best presented. Directorially, we often have characters with their backs to us, as if to create that same distance between us and the hotel guests and staff. At first, I thought it was an interesting acting showcase, no more, but as the crisis blossomed, I found the drama more poignant for knowing the characters so well. The grace note at the very end is beautiful, and one should hope, an invitation to sit at one another's table.
Glad to see it here finally , a lesser known gem of a movie.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #191 in Ain't Nobody's Blues But My Own
This movie ranks #218 in Academy Award Best Picture Nominees