NOTES: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Award, Best Actor, David Niven, defeating Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones, Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones and Spencer Tracy in The Old Man and the Sea.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Award, Best Supporting Actress, Wendy Hiller, defeating Peggy Cass in Auntie Mame, Martha Hyer in Some Came Running, Maureen Stapleton in Lonelyhearts, and Cara Williams in The Defiant Ones.
Also nominated for Best Picture (won by Gigi), Best Actress, Deborah Kerr (won by Susan Hayward for I Want To Live), Best Screenplay based on material from another medium (won by Gigi), Best Black-and- white Cinematography (won by The Defiant Ones), Best Scoring of a Drama or Comedy (won by The Old Man and the Sea).
With a domestic rentals gross of $2.7 million, number 20 at U.S./Canadian ticket windows for 1959. Oddly, although it took good money, the movie was nowhere near as successful in the United Kingdom. In Australia, however, the picture was a colossal success, placing no less than 7th at the national box-office in what was an extremely difficult year for cinemas with that new novelty of television finally starting to really bite into capital city revenues.
David Niven, Best Actor — New York Film Critics. David Niven, Best Actor — Foreign Language Press of New York. Deborah Kerr, Best Actress — Foreign Language Press of New York. David Niven, Best Dramatic Actor — Hollywood Foreign Press. Second to The Old Man and the Sea as Best American Film of 1958 — The National Board of Review. Best Film of the Year — New York Daily News. 7th Best of the Year — Film Daily annual poll of American film critics. 5th Best of 1958 — The New York Herald Tribune. 7th Best of 1958 — The New York Post. 2nd to Gigi as the Best Film of 1958 — The New York Daily Mirror. 4th Best Movie of 1958 — Filmfacts composite list. One of the ten best films of the year on the alphabetical lists published by The News Orleans Times-Picayune, The New York Journal American, and The New York World-Telegram. The above of course is merely a sample of the numerous awards and nominations accorded to Separate Tables.
COMMENT: Originally presented on the West End (London) stage with enormous critical and public support, "Separate Tables" was re- staged with even more acclaim on Broadway. In fact, both the Broadway play and Rattigan were nominated for a Tony Award.
It was inevitable that such a triumph be eyed by Hollywood. No- one, however, was more aware of the problems confronting a movie version than Rattigan himself. He felt that "Separate Tables" would not make a successful, or even a feasible motion picture unless its plot could be ingeniously reconstructed into one unified narrative. Therefore, when he sold the film rights to Hecht, Hill and Lancaster, Rattigan insisted that he be engaged to write the screenplay.
In making this transformation, the somewhat downbeat and noirish elements of the original play have been modified. Nonetheless, the characters themselves have been strengthened and made more interesting so that players like David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Gladys Cooper and Wendy Hiller would have a field day.
However, despite the well-merited adulation for Niven, Kerr and Cooper, I thought the players in the other segment of the movie, namely the other original one-act play, equally and perhaps even more deserving. Wendy Hiller figures in both episodes, but she is at her best in these other segment scenes. At the same time, Burt Lancaster never gave a better performance, while Rita Hayworth absolutely dazzles with her brilliance.