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The Battle of the Sexes (1960)

Angela Barrows, an accomplished business analyst from the US, attempts to contemporize the late MacPherson's tweed manufacture, shaking the very foundation of a men-only company.



(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


James Thurber's Delightful Sex-War Satire.




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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?


In 1956 Hecht-Hill-Lancaster Productions announced plans to film James Thurber's "The Catbird Seat" with a screenplay from George Axelrod. See more »


Andrew Darling:
  • You're a gremlin, that's what she said.

  • Who says?

Andrew Darling:
  • Mrs bluthering Barrows. You should hear what she's going to do with the house of MacPherson. Here... what's a gremlin?

  • You'd better go and see Mr Roberts. Come on.

Andrew Darling: Ah, Robbie... he's a gremlin.
Robertson: Will you please stop calling me a gremlin?
See more »


Featured 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

Many a battle has been won without striking a blow.
11 November 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Battle of the Sexes is directed by Charles Crichton (The Lavender Hill Mob/ The Titfield Thunderbolt) and it stars Peter Sellers, Robert Morley & Constance Cummings. It's based on the short story The Catbird Seat written by James Thurber, with the script written by Monja Danischewsky.

The grand House of MacPherson in Scotland has been supplying genuine Scottish tweeds for many years. Tho Woven out in the sticks by the professionals, the tweeds are sold out of the Macpherson HQ in Edinburgh. When Old MacPherson (Ernest Thesiger) dies, his son, Young MacPherson (Morley), takes over but is hardly blessed with business acumen. Things start to get dicey when he brings in Angela Barrows (Cummings) as an efficiency expert, an American lady he met on the train. The ageing staff, led by Mr. Martin (Sellers), is horrified as she starts updating the methods of running a business. To their minds a woman is for making the tea and cleaning up, not for doing away with hundreds of years of tradition with new fangled contraptions and ideas. However, Mr. Martin hatches a plan to rid the company of this meddlesome modern tyrant.

Something of an unknown British comedy featuring the great Peter Sellers, The Battle of The Sexes sees him teamed with Crichton to deliver a smart and very funny piece. The film is dealing in cultural clashes and the battle is not just of the sexes, but also a poignant conflict between the advent of time and its impact on business'. Arcane traditionalists versus the forward thinking modern capitalist: or if you like? British custom versus American progress. Both played superbly by Sellers; as the calm and unhurried Mr. Martin; and Cummings as the get up and at em quickly Angela Barrows. Danischewsky's script is very impressive given that the source was very slight, and Crichton has done wonders to not let the film descend into slapstick or out of place screwball. Much like Mr. Martin, the comedy is very sedate, unhurried or forced. There's some farce in there, with one chase sequence in Angela's apartment wonderfully constructed, but the film never gets out of control and it's all the better for it. As the two rivals try to outwit each other, this brings Morley's (great as usual) oblivious Young Mac into play. The result is a three pronged character piece deserving of a bigger audience. 8/10

6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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