'Delbert Mann' was surprised that years later "Separate Tables" was chosen for a retrospective on British films. According to Mann the film was shot entirely on Stage 5 at Goldwyn Studios.
Terence Rattigan's play was generally performed as two one-act plays separated by an intermission, with the same actor playing the Major and John, and the same actress portraying Ann and Sybil.
At the time Rita Hayworth was married to the co-producer of the film, James Hill.
Both Cathleen Nesbitt and Gladys Cooper, who are in this film, played the mother of Prof. Henry Higgins, as played by Rex Harrison, Ms. Nesbitt on Broadway (twice - 25 years apart) and Ms. Cooper in the film version of My Fair Lady.
Director Delbert Mann specifically shot May Hallatt's pool split in a long take with a moving camera - he wanted to show that a stand-in was not doing her trick shot for her. Unfortunately, the picture was taken from him, and re-edited with the middle of the shot removed, destroying that effect.
Director Delbert Mann was so upset over producer/star Burt Lancaster's re-cutting of the picture that he severed his relationship with the company. According to Mann, it was done because Lancaster's character is the last of the four major protagonists to be introduced.
Finnish censorship visa # 050392.
The Major's musical theme is a variation on the Scottish song "Wha Wadna Fecht For Charlie?"
The musical theme of the terrace sequence and a few other pieces were re-written by David Raksin on the request of the producers following a bad preview.
The original Broadway production of "Separate Tables" by Terence Rattigan opened at the Music Box Theater in New York on October 25, 1956, ran for 332 performances and was nominated for the 1957 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play. May Hallatt recreated her stage role in the movie version.
The role played by Rita Hayworth was originally assigned to Vivien Leigh but she dropped out of the project when her then husband Laurence Olivier decided not to direct the film.
The title song (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Harold Adamson), written for the film, became a best-selling single by Vic Damone on Columbia Records. According to author Tony Thomas in his 1975 book, "Harry Warren and the Hollywood Musical," composer David Raksin preferred using just his own melodies in his Oscar-nominated score.
This was considered quite daring in its day with its frank discussions of sexual topics generally considered taboo.
When she was interviewed by the "London News Chronicle" about her Oscar win, Wendy Hiller said she thought the Academy was crazy for giving it to her. "All you could see of me in the picture was the back of my head. Unless they give some award for acting with one's back to the camera, I don't see how I could have won. They cut my two best scenes and gave one to Rita Hayworth." She went on, "Never mind the honor, though I'm sure it's very nice of them. I hope this award means cash - hard cash. I want lots of lovely offers to go filming in Hollywood, preferably in the winter so I can avoid all the horrid cold over here."
With less than 16 minutes of screen time David Niven's performance in this movie is the shortest ever to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.