Adapted by Terrence Rattigan from his own play, this ensemble drama portrays a group of mostly lonely lost souls staying at an English seaside resort run by Pat Cooper (Hiller). The guests include boastful war hero Major Pollock (Niven), mousy spinster Sibyl (Kerr), her overbearing mother (Cooper), and alcoholic American writer John Malcolm (Lancaster). When Malcolm's ex-wife Ann (Hayworth), a faded beauty, appears unexpectedly, the group's collective secrets and dreary emotional baggage come tumbling out into the open.
What in lesser hands could have been a mucky soap-fest becomes instead a subtle, sensitive, intelligent film, thanks to director Mann's deft handling of Rattigan's Oscar-nominated script. A first-rate group of players all rise admirably to the occasion, with Niven and Hiller both winning Academy Awards for their excellent work. "Tables" is a complex human drama of the highest order — just the kind of picture Hollywood rarely makes anymore.