Based on Peter Shaffer's West End and Broadway success, FIVE FINGER EXERCISE is a sensitive and powerful domestic drama in which the corrosive effects of an insensitive father and an intellectual poseur of a mother take on tragic consequences for their offspring, and for the young German tutor lodging with them.
A distinguished cast highlights this film adaptation of a stage drama by Peter Shaffer. Stanley Harrington (Jack Hawkins) is a self-made businessman incapable of expressing his emotions or compromising with others; his wife Louise (Rosalind Russell) imagines herself an intellectual, though her intelligence is more of an affectation than a reality. Stanley and Louise hire Walter (Maximilian Schell), a teacher from Germany, as a tutor for their two teenage children, effeminate Philip (Richard Beymer) and high-strung Pamela (Annette Gorman). Walter tries to ingratiate himself with the family, with little success; when he tries to get to know Louise better, she imagines that he's fallen in love with her, and she's deeply hurt when he confesses that he instead sees her as a motherly figure. Walter is eventually driven to the brink of suicide, which forces the family to reconsider their attitudes toward Walter and each other.
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