A Majority Of One

  • 1961
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

Gertrude Berg and Cedric Hardwicke were the leads in the Broadway show that ran nearly 600 performances. Berg, who had been one of America's favorite radio and TV actresses in her creation "The Goldbergs," played a role she'd done many times before. Hardwicke, when seen across a theater's distance, could be believed as being Japanese. However, the casting...read more

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Gertrude Berg and Cedric Hardwicke were the leads in the Broadway show that ran nearly 600 performances. Berg, who had been one of America's favorite radio and TV actresses in her creation "The Goldbergs," played a role she'd done many times before. Hardwicke, when seen across a theater's

distance, could be believed as being Japanese. However, the casting of eminently WASPish Russell and very English Guinness works against the charm of the script because we see them in close-up on the screen, and Russell, despite being an excellent actress, fails to convince anyone she is a Jewish

widow. Guinness fares a bit better since his job is to be inscrutable, which is much easier. Guinness also had studied Japanese ways and was able to convey the Asian attitudes with small gestures that contributed to his characterization. Russell is a Brooklyn widow whose only son was killed in WW

II by the Japanese. So it is with great reluctance that she is taking a sea voyage to Japan with her daughter, Rhue, and her son-in-law, Danton, where he is to do some trade business as a diplomat. On board the ship, Russell meets Guinness, a wealthy Japanese man who was also tragically struck by

the war and lost members of his family. Danton now learns that Guinness is a member of the negotiating group against whom Danton must deal and he wonders if Guinness is being particularly charming to Russell for that reason. Russell is taken with this man of such an opposite culture and she feels

that Danton is too wary but she decides that it is better to be safe than sorry and so, on their last night on the ship, Russell will not dine with Guinness. In Japan, Danton makes a remark that is insulting to the sensitive nature of Guinness and the trade meeting is called off. Russell will not

let go of her new friend, though, so she travels to Guinness' home, a definite breach of etiquette, and they have an excellent time with each other. It is so much fun for both that Guinness decides to put his loss of face aside and begin negotiating with Danton again. A deal is struck and

everything is hunky-dory until Guinness, in an unaccustomed moment of candor, admits that he adores Russell and wants to marry her. Russell is, at once, honored and stunned. She is also irked at the reaction of Rhue and Danton, who have proven themselves to be prejudiced against Guinness. Russell

thinks it over, then gives him the answer of "no," and it isn't because she doesn't find him attractive or because there is such a wide gulf in their cultures; it's simply that she feels both of them continue to be controlled by their pasts, and it will take a bit longer to be able to toss that

aside and begin a new life. Time passes, and Guinness has taken the honorable assignment of being a representative of Japan to the United Nations in New York. Russell is thrilled at his arrival, and a new courtship begins. Questel plays the same yenta neighbor she did on the stage, and Marno

repeats his Broadway role as the arrogant Japanese houseboy. Danton and Rhue are good in nonsympathetic parts, and the whole film is amiable enough, but at a shade over two and a-half hours, it is far too long. Stradling received an Oscar nomination for his cinematography.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Gertrude Berg and Cedric Hardwicke were the leads in the Broadway show that ran nearly 600 performances. Berg, who had been one of America's favorite radio and TV actresses in her creation "The Goldbergs," played a role she'd done many times before. Hardwi… (more)

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