Five Finger Exercise (1962): Daniel Mann Family Drama, Starring Jack Hawkins, Rosalind Russell and Oscar Winner Maximilian Schell

A fine cast elevates Five Finger Exercise, an intense family drama, which is replete of internal conflicts and external tensions.

The husband and wife team, Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, have effectively adapted to the big screen Peter Shaffer’s stage play of the same name.

Jack Hawkins plays Stanley Harrington, a businessman incapable of expressing his emotions or compromising with others. Rosalind Russell is cast as his pretentious wife, Louise, who perceives herself as an intellectual, though her intelligence is more of an affectation than a reality.

In his first film after winning the Best Actor Oscar for “Judgment at Nuremberg,” Maximilian Schell plays a teacher from Germany, hired as a tutor for the couple’s two teenage children, the effeminate Philip (Richard Beymer) and the high-strung Pamela (Annette Gorman).

Walter tries to ingratiate himself with the family, but to no avail. When he tries to get to know Louise better, she deludes herself that he’s fallen in love with her. Thus, she is deeply hurt, when he confesses that he instead sees her as a surrogate mother.
Turning point occurs when Walter is driven to the brink of suicide, which forces all the family members to reconsider their attitudes toward Walter and toward each other.

This is one of the last films made by the accomplished actress Rosalind Russell, who gives a brave and dominant performance under the direction of Daniel Mann, who usually works particularly well with women.


Runnnig time: 109 Minutes.

Directed by Daniel Mann
Screenplay by: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich