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The Battle of the Sexes

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The Battle of the Sexes (1960)

directed by Charles Crichton
featuring Peter Sellers, Robert Morley, Constance Cummings, Jameson Clark, Ernst Thesiger

About this title: In this 1959 comedy, Robert MacPherson (Robert Morley) inherits his family's textile business in Edinburgh, Scotland, then hires American efficiency expert Angela Barrows (Constance Cummings) to bring the business into the modern age. The House of MacPherson has long been known as a manufacturer of fine Scottish tweed, and the company's mild-mannered head clerk, Mr. Martin (Peter Sellers), worries that the no-nonsense Barrows will ruin everything with her new-fangled ideas and eventually replace him and his co-workers with automatons. So after she installs the latest labor-saving devices, including intercoms and noisy adding machines, he sabotages them in a gradually unfolding scheme to persuade MacPherson that the old Scottish ways are still the best, that true craftsmanship requires a human touch. By this time, however, MacPherson has taken a fancy to Barrows romantically, and she can do no wrong. Then, horror of horrors, Barrows proposes that the company make synthetic tweed -- mass-produced synthetic tweed -- in an all-out effort to Americanize the Scottish firm. That's the last straw for Martin, and he thinks there is only one option left for him: to murder Barrows. Of course, meek Mr. Martin isn't exactly a natural-born killer, and he botches one attempt after another in a sequence of scenes that keep the action moving briskly along. But Martin has pluck and plenty of persistence, and he eventually hatches another plot to undo the meddlesome Barrows. The film, loosely based on a James Thurber story entitled The Catbird Seat, was directed by Charles Crichton, the same man who directed the highly successful Lavender Hill Mob. ~ Mike Cummings, Rovi

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