Room at the Top


D: Jack Clayton

British Lion/Romulus (John Woolf & James Woolf)

UK 🇬🇧 1959

118 mins


W: Neil Paterson [based on the novel by John Braine]

DP: Freddie Francis

Ed: Ralph Kemplen

Mus: Mario Nascimbene

Laurence Harvey (Joe Lampton), Simone Signoret (Alice Aisgill), Heather Sears (Susan Brown), Ambrosine Phillpotts (Mrs Brown), Donald Wolfit (Mr Brown), Hermione Baddeley (Elspeth)

One of the early British New Wave films and amongst the best films of 1959, starring Laurence Harvey as a ladies man who takes a new job as an accountant in a small Yorkshire town, where he turns heads of the female staff and attracts the eye of Susan Brown, the daughter of a wealthy family.  Though he sees the relationship with Susan as a social-climbing opportunity, he becomes increasingly infatuated with a married French actress who he has an affair with.

The three principal performances in this film are excellent, especially Simone Signoret who won an Oscar for her role, and the support is solid from the fine ensemble cast.  Hermione Baddeley was also nominated for an Oscar in a performance that is on the screen for less than 5 minutes, which demonstrates how excellent the acting is here.

A solid example of 1950’s British cinema, paving the way for several “angry young man” movies which were released in the early 1960’s, most of which are equally as good as this.

As said above, this is one of the best films of 1959, a year when cinema had an embarrassment of riches.


Simone Signoret & Laurence Harvey in Room At The Top
Simone Signoret & Laurence Harvey in Room At The Top