Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rosalind Russell & Alec Guinness in A Majority of One (1961)

Obscurity factor: 7

My friend Ranse reminded me of this film last night. Rosalind Russell plays Bertha Jacoby, a Jewish widow living in Brooklyn. When her son-in-law receives a post as a diplomat in Japan she joins them to live with her daughter in Tokyo. On the ship she meets business man Koichi Asano (Guinness). Both of them lost loved ones in the Japanese/American conflict in WWII and there is friction between them because of it. However they eventually strike up an unlikely romance, but the cultural differences between them must be surmounted and that seems like a tall order.

This charming film has a warm message of understanding and forgiveness. Russell makes a quirky, delightful Jewish mother and what could have been an uncomfortable performance by a lesser actor a is low key and respectful one with Guinness as the Japanese business man.

This is recently available on DVD. The trailer is above, posted to YouTube by skipjacktuner. The poster is available from MoviePosterShop.com.

Obscurity factor: 7 (available on DVD, not well remembered, though it does have a small, devoted following)


  1. I finally saw this about two years ago when it was on TCM, and really enjoyed it. I thought both leads were excellent. It would have been interesting to have seen Gertrude Berg repeat her stage role. It is worth noting that Ms. Russell had two back-to-back films for Warner Brothers in which she starred in recent Broadway shows that brought great acclaim to their original leading ladies. In her autobiography she mentioned how she realized that neither of them could have been very pleased about that.

  2. Yes, such is the way of Hollywood. I just saw Mary, Mary last night, which starred Debbie Reynolds instead of the Barbara Bell Geddies who did it on the stage.

  3. I noticed that was on, but it was already half over so I did not watch it. I have never seen it, but I have read that it is very stagy. In fact, I think I read that it seemed practically like a filmed play, with no attempts to move beyond its stage roots. Did you find this to be the case?

  4. Yes, it had that quality, and I'm not sure that Reynolds was the right choice for the role. Oddly enough when they shot her from the back I kept seeing Madeline Kahn (something about how her hair was styled), which made me think how wonderful she would have been in the role. I also have a soft spot for Jean Kerr, so I was looking forward to seeing it.