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The Battle of the Sexes (1960)

Man-eating businesswoman, Angela Barrows is sent by her US company to Edinburgh to investigate export opportunities. She meets businessman Robert MacPherson en route and he persuades her to... See full summary »



(short story "The Catbird Seat"),
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Martin
Robert Macpherson
Angela Barrows
Jameson Clark ...
Andrew Darling
Old Macpherson
Irwin Hoffman (as Donald Pleasance)
Moultrie Kelsall ...
Alex Mackenzie ...
Roddy McMillan ...
James Gibson ...
Noel Howlett ...
Mr. White
Abe Barker ...
Mr. Meekie
Gordon Phillott ...
Mr. Munson
William Mervyn ...
Detective's Friend


Man-eating businesswoman, Angela Barrows is sent by her US company to Edinburgh to investigate export opportunities. She meets businessman Robert MacPherson en route and he persuades her to help bring his company into the 20th century. The staff, lead by Mr. Martin, have other ideas and a battle between the old and new business methods breaks out. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

22 August 1960 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

La batalla de los sexos  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One character is referred to as Mr Mitty, a small homage to James Thurber, writer of the original story who also wrote The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. See more »


Referenced in The Unknown Peter Sellers (2000) See more »


All Things Bright and Beautiful
Lyrics by Cecil F. Alexander and music by William H. Monk
Sung by a choir on the television in Mrs Barrows' apartment
See more »

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User Reviews

Sellers is good and the film amusing even if it lacks sharp comment or good laughs
27 March 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In order to get her out of their hair, her US employers send powerful businesswoman out to Scotland on some vague mission to investigate export potential. On the way she meets businessman Robert MacPherson who asks for her help to improve the efficiency of his late father's company. The mere suggestion that a woman would be brought into the male dominated company causes panic within the stuffy departments of the company – especially since the sole woman employee only makes tea for the men. Things only get worse when she starts updating the company, suggesting centralised tweed production in a factory, changing filing systems and carrying out time & motion studies. Happily employee Mr Martin is on hand to try and outwit her modernising ways.

In this comedy the plot could easily just involve a man coming into a company because the battle is less one of male versus female and more a matter of old school versus new school where, much I'm Alright Jack, Sellers leads the defence against such action. Looking at it this way the film is much more interesting because it keeps it relevant (nobody likes change) whereas the idea of working for a female boss is no longer the crazy modern idea that it may have once been. The film uses this story reasonably well and produced a few chuckles from me while managing to maintain a consistent amusing tone. The lack of really sharp jokes or big laughs is a bit of a problem though, and it would have been better if the commentary had been sharper and some of the comic sequences had had more laughs but the overall tone is quite nice.

The main reason it is quite funny is the subtle playing of Sellers who is gently amusing and sets the tone well for the material; perhaps not one of his most famous creations but he is enjoyable nonetheless. He is well supported by Morley, who plays the blundering boss with enthusiasm and adds to the comedy. Cummings is quite good and brings out well the manipulative nature of some women – turning on femininity and tears when it suits them; she does this well without being cruel to her sex I thought. The support is mainly good and includes a brief appearance from Donald Pleasence but really the film belongs to Sellers in his quiet role along with Morley and Cummings.

Overall this is not a great film mainly because it lacks a sharp intelligent edge that it could have had and not replacing that with enough broad laughs to do the job. The cast really help and the material is good enough to be roundly amusing and it is worth a look because it is a pleasing little film even if it isn't anything that special or memorable.

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