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Separate Tables (1958)

Unrated | | Drama, Romance | 11 February 1959 (France)
2:40 | Trailer

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The stories of several people are told as they stay at a seaside hotel in Bournemouth which features dining at "Separate Tables."


Delbert Mann


Terence Rattigan (screenplay), John Gay (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Won 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Deborah Kerr ... Sibyl Railton-Bell
Rita Hayworth ... Ann Shankland
David Niven ... Major Angus Pollock
Wendy Hiller ... Pat Cooper
Burt Lancaster ... John Malcolm
Gladys Cooper ... Mrs. Railton-Bell
Cathleen Nesbitt ... Lady Matheson
Felix Aylmer ... Mr. Fowler
Rod Taylor ... Charles
Audrey Dalton ... Jean
May Hallatt ... Miss Meacham
Priscilla Morgan ... Doreen


It's the off-season at the lonely Beauregard Hotel in Bournemoth, and only the long-term tenants are still in residence. Life at the Beauregard is stirred up, however, when the beautiful Ann Shankland arrives to see her alcoholic ex-husband, John Malcolm, who is secretly engaged to Pat Cooper, the woman who runs the hotel. Meanwhile, snobbish Mrs Railton-Bell discovers that the kindly if rather doddering Major Pollock is not what he appears to be. The news is particularly shocking for her frail daughter, Sibyl, who is secretly in love with the Major. Written by Shannon Patrick Sullivan <shannon@mun.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Once...Only Once in a Lifetime A Cast...A Story...A Motion Picture Like This! See more »


Drama | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

11 February 1959 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Getrennt von Tisch und Bett See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


At the time Rita Hayworth was married to the co-producer of the film, James Hill. See more »


Camera reflected in window in the last dolly shot. See more »


Sibyl Railton-Bell: Why have you told so many awful lies?
Major Angus Pollock: Because I don't like myself the way I am, i suppose. I had to invent someone else... It's not harmful really. We all have our daydreams. Mine have just gone a step further than most people.
[laughs ironically]
Major Angus Pollock: Sometimes I just manage to believe in the Major myself.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Delbert Mann did not want the song in the opening titles, and he discovered an old British print that included David Raksin's main title rather than the song, as he had wanted it, being used in a film festival. See more »


Separate Tables
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Harold Adamson
Sung by Vic Damone (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

A Classic to Rival 'Close Encounter'
13 October 2009 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

I have just seen this for the third time, and it gets better every time. What anyone under the age of 30 would make of it, I cannot imagine. But for people old enough to remember having met or known people like the characters in this film (which is also a classic play by Terence Rattigan, revived from time to time on stage), this is a harrowing, searing examination of the interior recesses of fossilised people in a formal society of manners such as England was before the 1960s. The play/film is set in a seaside hotel at Bournemouth in England in the 1950s. It is peopled by lonely, stiff upper lip people who sit at separate tables in the communal dining room. The performances by numerous famous actors are absolutely staggering. David Niven gives certainly his finest performance in any film, well deserving his Oscar. Deborah Kerr leaves our jaws agape at her wholly convincing portrayal of a cringeing, crushed daughter of a tyrant mother who despite having entered middle age still says simperingly: 'Yes Mummy, No Mummy' and is afraid of her own shadow. The film is actually dominated by two older women: on the one hand, Gladys Cooper tyrannizes over the entire cast of characters with her Olympian certainties, pernicious control freakery, destructive and sadistic cruelty, all masked by 'proper manners', a 'concern for morality', and a view of herself as representative of a superior class of being, not to mention the upper class of society. She is one of those elegantly dressed older women who used to dominate all around them, gave themselves the airs of duchesses, or at least of the duchesses they imagined (since they had probably never met one), and who carried snobbery to its greatest heights. Cooper absolutely dominates the screen in every shot, and her arched brow or wrinkled nose of disapproval is enough to terrify a pontiff. And then there is the calm, emotionally ravaged, but practical and efficient hotelier, played by Wendy Hiller. She dominates her own scenes in turn, with her unique charm, and she well deserved her Oscar too. Poor Wendy has been in love with Burt Lancaster for years. But then his ex-wife Rita Hayworth turns up, whose cold glamour casts an arctic spell, and the intensity of her needs and her egotism threaten to turn the proceedings to ice, which will shatter into shards and leave everyone chilled at the heart. It is all done to perfection. Delbert Mann, who was such a brilliant director, here outdoes himself. The stagey 'set' of the hotel suggests a large, rambling stage set through which the camera relentlessly prowls. There is no attempt made to show 'the world outside', or to achieve realism beyond the walls of the Hotel Beauregard where the multiple dramas unfold. We all somehow understand that this is a play, but there is nothing uncinematic about it, quite the reverse. The underlying theme of all the stories in this film can be summed up in one word: self-control. All of the characters' feelings are suppressed, all of their upper lips are as stiff as boards, all of their hearts are breaking, everything is appearance, but beneath the appearance there are the unheard screams, the cries, the agonies, the concealed feelings, and the sobs that are never heard because never uttered. The days when people could control themselves (albeit so often too much so, as we see here) are long gone. Nowadays it all hangs out, every last bit of it. Nothing is concealed any longer. And yet here we see a tableau of self-control presented to our eyes to remind us what everything was like just a short time ago, well within the living memories of half the people on the planet. And yet, as I said, no one under 30 could possibly comprehend even one iota of what is meant or represented by this study of a lost society, this museum of morals and manners that have all gone as completely as the dodo. There is such pathos in this film, as we suffer with these people whose torn hearts are pinned behind their backs, and who go through life helpless, flailing, and nearly lost. What a step back in time this is, so strongly and unforgettably portrayed. When the fossils are all inspected in the natural history museums of the future, will this one be amongst them? And will it inspire more awe than the triceratops? As an example of magnificent ensemble playing it is difficult to imagine this film being surpassed. It is an absolute masterpiece.

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