"The Catbird Seat" is treasured by James Thurber fans for taking the sort of teeth-gnashing experience everyone dreads and discovering an ingenious way out of it. Mr. Martin (Peter Sellers) is a quiet Edinburgh accountant for Mr. Macpherson's (Robert Morley's) textile company. He wishes to be left alone & he certainly leaves everyone else alone. That is, until Angela Barrows (Constance Cummings) arrives on the job. Mrs. Barrows (there's no polite way to say this) is an...American efficiency expert. She has the effect on shy Mr. Martin of a new piece of chalk S-C-R-E-E-C-H-I-N-G against a chalk board. She's loud. She has her own, very definite agenda. She lives in her own world. Regrettably, that world happens to be Mr. Martin's world, too, and he was here first!
Mr. Martin is very unhappy. But then he realizes there is a solution in sight: he decides there's nothing for it but to murder Mrs. Barrows. What happens next is the stuff of which classic British comedies are made. Crichton skillfully escalates the war of nerves between Mrs. Barrows & old Mr. Martin. (Cummings was 49 & Sellers was 34, but he'd specialized in playing elderly characters for years.) The character actors are first rate: Ernest Thesiger is Mr. Macpherson, Senior (right!) & Michael Goodliffe is charmingly dry as a detective.
© 2006 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 11/30/05
The Battle Of The Sexes
UK - 1959