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4.2 out of 5 stars
The L-Shaped Room [DVD] [1962]
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 14 April 2010
Moving and quite touching story of relationships, lovers and strangers from various backgrounds getting to know each other in a set of dingy rooms.

'Jane' (Lesley Caron) moves into rooms let within a large house. When she arrives, no-one knows she is pregnant. (bearing in mind this is 1962) She rents a room at the top of a house with various other occupants. At first, it appears that everyone keeps themselves to themselves, and that it is unlikely that she'll ever have anything to do with any of them.

Whilst there, she begins a relationship with a handsome 'Tom Bell', whose character lives just below her. Eventually, she gets to know the rest of the Tenants who are not so bad after all.

This movie makes subtle hints at male homosexuality, lesbianism, prostitution and racism. It is also a great example at showing how everyone has their good side - and how tolerant people can be. There's a particularly touching scene when Jane's black neighbour whimpers in the night through their partition asking for forgiveness after confessing he's told lies about her out of spite and jealousy concerning her relationship with the young man below.

A real 'mixed bag' of actors in this - including; Pat Phoenix (formerly Elsie Tanner of Coronation Street), Dame Cicely Courtneidge, Mark Eden, Nannette Newman, Bernard Lee and Tony Booth.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2011
Bryan Forbes's "The L-Shaped Room" never seems to be recalled as readily or praised as lavishly as other films from the new wave of British 'kitchen-sink' dramas like "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" or "A Taste of Honey" but it it quite their equal. The director makes sparing but effective use of locations in a lost London of Rachmanland bed-sits and corner caffs, but most of film takes place in the eponymous claustrophobic room in sleazy boarding house-cum-knocking-shop run by a splendidly repellent Avis Bunnage.
Leslie Caron takes refuge there as she considers her options. Pregnant, unmarried and out of work, she mis-trusts, but is gradually befriended by, the other occupants of the house: Tom Bell went on to a career playing coppers and heavies, but here he is a charming romantic lead as a struggling writer. Brock Peters is, it must be said, somewhat over the top as a jazz trumpeter, and Cicely Courtneidge (mis-spelt on the liner as Courinedge) steals the entire film as a resting thespian. In her very late '70's when the film was made, she had had a long career on the halls and in film with husband Jack Hulbert, but this is surely her career-best performance. The scene where she shows Caron a photo of her dead long-time companion will break your heart. Pat Phoenix of Coronation Street fame contributes a fine cameo as an ageing tart with a heart of gold. Caren herself is tender, vulnerable yet tough, a fine performance in a perfect role for her.
Presented in monochrome in correct 16:9 ratio, this DVD while enthral you for the whole of its two-hour running time.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 30 April 2008
Optimum Films has given us the great gift of a beautiful, widescreen transfer of this outstanding film. The photography is stunning, the acting first-rate, and the story compelling. Peter Katin's soulful rendition of Brahm's Piano Concerto in D Minor accompanies, and complements, the touching story throughout.

Leslie Caron is perfect as 27-year-old Jane, a young French woman who finds lodgings in a seedy London rooming house. Next door to her L-shaped attic room is Johnny, a West Indian jazz musician. Downstairs is Toby (Tom Bell in his most memorable role), an aspiring writer. Avis Bunnage is the feisty Cockney landlady and Cicely Courtneidge is an over-the-hill music hall performer. A veritable treasure-trove of delightful English character actors populate their dysfunctional familial world.

The story centers around the shaky romance of Jane and Toby. She is remarkably independent for a woman of that era (1962 was just the dawning of women's rights). Tom Bell is achingly handsome, and utterly winning in his low-key, self-effacing, but determined pursuit of his neighbor. He wins her over, but then takes off when informed that Jane is pregnant by another man. If there is a false note in the film, it is Johnny's curious `morality' (especially for a jazz musician), and his spitefulness in telling Toby of the baby. But he too is in love with Toby.

We want so much for the beautiful couple to be together, the non-committal ending comes as something of a relief. At least we can hope for their future happiness.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2014
That I never give films a fair chance is an accusation often thrown at me whenever I report that I started watching such and such a film, only to give in 20 minutes later. What these people fail to understand, however, is that 20 minutes is all I need to determine whether or not it's going to be worth my time, and sometimes I'll know even before that.

But it is just as true to say I know I'm going to love a film just as quickly, and I've yet to be wrong on this. The L-Shaped Room is one such film.

What makes this film so utterly watchable is Leslie Caron's performance (Oscar nominated, and rightly so) as Jane Fosset - a mid-20s, French girl over in London, trying to escape her pregnancy. Watching this film, I found myself unable to take my gaze from her face for a single second, such is the power of her presence.

The story itself is a simple one, but beautifully done and acted by the supporting cast; a miss-match of 'outsiders' living in the various rooms of the boarding house whom Jane gets to know and befriend. Maybe I'm growing more and more sentimental with each passing year, but many of the scenes are heart-breaking and if you're anything like me you'll find yourself wishing you had the chance to be Jane's 'knight in shining armour'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2012
This is one of my favourite books so was thrilled that there was a film available. The film doesn't stray much from the book, and has added a three dimensional life to the characters in the book, without taking away what I saw in my minds eye. The film is in black and white, which suits the tone of the book. Loved it. And still love the book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2013
A good view reminding me how much I enjoyed the original film on the cinema screen. The memory of Cicely Courtneidge playing the ageing lesbian theatrical has remained with me since watching the film in the 1960s; a sterling character performance by an actress who I had the pleasure of seeing on the stage a couple of times with her husband, Jack Hulbert.

As for the film, itself, it is quite a period piece, now, but retains its grit which in the 1960s was ahead of its time. The black and white photography lends more atmosphere to the story and its quite an ensemble piece with all the cast turning in moving performances.

If you are a fan of the vintage cinema then this is for you!

Cheers, Tim
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Originally released for the cinema in 1962 The L Shaped Room stars Leslie Caron, Leslie Claire Margaret Caron, a French actress who appeared in 45 films between 1951 and 2003. Her most famous role was probably that of GIGI in the musical of the same title. Also look out for appearances by Tom Bell, Bernard Lee, Patricia Phoenix, Emlyn Williams and Brock Peters.

The film follows the fortunes of Jane, Leslie Caron, a somewhat shy French girl who happens to be single and pregnant. Jane moves into a low rent boarding house in London where she meets and befriends the other residents, one way and another!. Her relationship with these very different characters helps Jane to grow in confidence and embrace the start of the swinging 60s and the sexual revolution but; doubts about her baby and their future linger. What exactly will this newly liberated single decide to do?.

The L Shaped Room is contained on once disc.
Running time; 120 minutes approx.
B&W format.
Mono.
Region 2 only.
Language; English.
Classification; 15+ years.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2003
Darling is one of the great movies of the British New Wave. When John Schlesinger died a couple weeks ago, the U.S. press here dismissed the film as having become dated. But I've always thought Schlesinger's early English films have kept their appeal much more than his later American films. And maybe some of that appeal for me is that the early films do depict their period so convincingly. Certainly the orgiastic confession party in Darling provides a definition of dissipation I associate with the swinging life of that period (in tandem with the similar scene from La Dolce Vita). But the basic story of a beautiful young woman doomed by her own shallowness seems to be a story that still gets told in films. To some degree anyway. It doesn't seem to be a story locked into the 1960s. End of Review. Note on the DVD: The prints presented here are very dirty. Lots of black spots. Buckets of white spots. The L-Shaped Room is stated as being presented in 1:1.66 aspect ratio when in fact it is 1:1.33 and suffers accordingly. I get a sinking feeling that Darling will remain remembered as an also ran if a better DVD doesn't come along.
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Warning: this review contains spoilers.

The central character in this film is Jane (Leslie Caron) who, in an opening sequence, is seen haggling over the rent with her landlady Doris (Avis Bunnage) for a room in a rundown house in Bayswater, London, in the early 1960s.

Like Jane, her neighbours in this house lead fractured, lonely lives, relying on each other for their day-to-day support. Any initial wariness is overcome so that, by the end of the film, they are all enjoying a friendly Christmas together. There is an acceptance of differences; nobody comments on the colour of Johnny's skin and, as a single mother, Jane's pregnancy is celebrated, not condemned. This is a confined, tolerant environment whose attitudes do not reflect those of much of society at the time.

Perhaps the two most interesting inhabitants of the house are Mavis (Cicely Courtneidge) and Johnny (Brock Peters), both of whom harbour secrets concerning their sexuality. One of the most affecting scenes in the film is when Mavis reveals to Jane the identity of her lifelong friend. Johnny is troubled, initially, by the sexual aspect of the relationship between Toby and Jane.

The film has an intensity about it, but it is never depressing. The relationship between Toby and Jane is played out beautifully even though the viewer knows that it will not end happily.

There is one serious misjudgement and that is the use of Brahms' 1st piano concerto as background music. John Barry provides the music for the night club scene and it is a pity he did not write the rest of the score.

All the performances are excellent, but I would single out those of Tom Bell and Cicely Courtneidge in particular.

I was very impressed with this film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2012
This story was written and filmed just on the eve of the Youth Rebellion of the Sixties, and it gives a moving and realistic description of the situation of a young woman, who finds herself pregnant and unmarried. Thrown out by her father, she must find lodgings and a job, and being a resourceful young woman, she manages her life with dignity and honesty. She finds a lover, too, though he finds it difficult to cope with the pregnancy. Can be compared with the film An Education, but being actually of the times it describes, it has more authenticity. Recommended.
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