Daniel Mann – Five Finger Exercise (1962)

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Plot Synopsis by Mark Deming

A distinguished cast highlights this film adaptation of a stage drama by Peter Shaffer. Stanley Harrington (Jack Hawkins) is a self-made businessman incapable of expressing his emotions or compromising with others; his wife Louise (Rosalind Russell) imagines herself an intellectual, though her intelligence is more of an affectation than a reality. Stanley and Louise hire Walter (Maximilian Schell), a teacher from Germany, as a tutor for their two teenage children, effeminate Philip (Richard Beymer) and high-strung Pamela (Annette Gorman). Walter tries to ingratiate himself with the family, with little success; when he tries to get to know Louise better, she imagines that he’s fallen in love with her, and she’s deeply hurt when he confesses that he instead sees her as a motherly figure. Walter is eventually driven to the brink of suicide, which forces the family to reconsider their attitudes toward Walter and each other. Continue reading

Daniel Mann – The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956)

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Teahouse retains the basic appeal that made it a unique war novel and a legit hit. There is some added slapstick for those who prefer their comedy broader. Adding to its prospects are some top comedy characterizations, notably from Glenn Ford, plus the offbeat casting of Marlon Brando in a comedy role.
In transferring his play based on the Vern Sneider novel to the screen, John Patrick has provided a subtle shift in the focal interest.

Deft screenplay provides an interesting fillip in retaining the stage device of a narrative prolog and epilog by Brando and the warmly humorous verbiage has been left intact. Story line also is unsullied as the film unspools the tribulations of Ford, the young army officer assigned to bring the benefits of democracy and free enterprise to the little Okinawan town of Tobiki. Continue reading