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on 26 November 2014
Superb film, an iconic and influential piece of film making from the 1960s, but I'm giving three stars for the presentation, which is terrible.

Though released in 2009, hardly the Dark Ages in terms of widescreen development, the feature is presented in 4:3, letterboxed to the original ratio of 1:66:1. At least the quality of the print is sufficient that it can comfortably be zoomed to 16:9 on my 50" LED TV, but that still means cropping the image top and bottom; what a short-sighted decision by the usually reliable Network.

Hopefully they'll release a decent anamorphic blu-ray sometime soon...
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on 29 September 2012
The recent delayed screening of the BBC television adaptation of John Braine's classic novel provides an opportunity to re-evaluate this film version and make comparisons. Although at the time of its release the film marked an important breakthrough in the British cinema, introducing a welcome new realism in its previously timid treatment of sex, the film's impact has inevitably diminished over the years. Moreover, what might be termed its overall acting style still smacks somewhat of the Home Counties rather than the drab North Country town in which the story is set. Nevertheless much of the uninhibited rawness of Braine's novel comes through and if Laurence Harvey is miscast as the cynically ambitious Joe Lambton (a role to which, say, Albert Finney may have been better suited) Simone Signoret's luminous portrayal of the tragic figure of Alice Aisgill remains one of the great performances in British cinema. The film version scores over the television version in at least three respects : it is better in black and white than in colour; the treatment of the character of Susan Brown is preferable; and the ending is altogether more telling. The television version is distinctly cruder in its language and sexuality, which may or may not be to its advantage, but Maxine Peake's Alice, at least, is not put into the shade by her distinguished predecessor.
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on 10 March 2012
John Osborne's play Look back in anger is also a 1959 British film, directed by Tony Richardson, and often seen as a forerunner of the British Free Cinema; Jack Clayton's Room at the top of the same year, with Simone Signoret and Laurence Harvey, fulfills the same purpose, but with less visible theatricality. Signoret, a French cinema actress rightly hailed as one of France's greatest movie stars, became the first French person to win an Academy Award for her performance in Clayton's film.

Jack Clayton (1921-1995) was credited with spearheading Britain's movement toward realism in films; in fact, Room at the top inaugurated a series of realist films known as the British New Wave or Free Cinema, which for that time, featured unusually sincere treatments of sexual mores and introduced a new maturity into British cinema. His role as a producer/actor in Huston/Bogart's still entertaining and worthwhile Beat the devil (1953) is well remembered. His career as a director continued less pronounced, working more effectively as an associate producer.

Though, like in Carol Reed's Third man (1949), secondary roles were very well chosen, Signoret and Harvey easily dominate the film - a fact viewers certainly did not deplore, but that also showed that the shortage was not with actors and technicians, but rather with directors and producers, and a cinema de qualité thinking that had stifled already the French cinema. Like in France, the cinema d'auteurs took off in Britain, perhaps most impressively with Karel Reisz' Saturday night and Sunday morning (1960), nearer the kitchen sink, but also less long-lived than the Nouvelle vague, to rather drastically move off the kitchen sink again towards emotionally junky pieces like Eva (1962) and Darling (1965) at an early date.

The plot is self-explanatory from the title, working itself through the British social (and political) system at the time of filming. Followed is the money trail, not the heart. How wrong, and how painful, but what a good yarn!

Room at the top by Jack Clayton (1959, 115') - 63uk Oscar material, rightly
10 March 2012
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VINE VOICEon 6 November 2009
Probably one of the most tragically romantic movies ever made!

Thanks to the beautiful actress Simone Signoret who gives one of her most sincerest performances ever here, plays Alice Aisgill, whose unfortunate love-life is doomed to end in tragedy. Another outstanding actress who gave one of her finest performances captured in just one fiery scene was Hermione Baddeley. (who ironically in real life went on to have an affair with Laurence Harvey - a most unpredictable match if ever there was one!)

Joe Lampton (Harvey) is a social climber who's bent on getting the cash as well as the girl. He does not care whose toes he treads upon to get there - except perhaps that of Alice Aisgill (Signoret) who unintentionally gets in the way of his plans at the very last minute.

Some heavy heart-rending scenes in this which will move the most hardened viewers of both sexes to tears...

Also stars; Heather Sears, Raymond Huntley, Allan Cuthbertson, Ian Hendry, Wendy Craig and a young Prunella Scales.

A Great British movie classic!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 January 2011
Room At The Top [1959] [DVD]
1950s Yorkshire forms the backdrop for this steamy, sexy black and white film which concerns itself with a deeply flawed, ultimately tragic, love triangle. Laurence Harvey is mesmeric as Joe Langton; a raging, angry, working class lad who'll use anyone to get to "the top". But; it's Simone Signoret who steals the show as Joe's sexy, smouldering French lover; this was by far her best role. Langton is possibly one of the most vile movie characters of all time; he shows little emotion and even less morality and Laurence Harvey deserved an Oscar for playing him with such conviction. Sad, dark, twisting plot with no room for happy endings as Langton sets out to intentionally destory the lives of the two women who love him. Scenes from a much changed Yorkshire are highly evocative and though the quality of the movie isn't great, it's grainy and jumps around a fair bit, that just seems to add to the overall atmosphere.
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VINE VOICEon 16 December 2007
Probably one of the most tragically romantic movies ever made - thanks to the beautiful actress Simone Signoret, who gives one of her most sincerest performances ever here, as she plays Alice Aisgill, whose unfortunate love-life is doomed to end in tragedy... Another outstanding actress who gave one of her finest performances captured in one fiery scene was Hermione Baddeley (who ironically in real life went on to have an affair with Laurence Harvey - a most unpredictable match if ever there was one)

Joe Lampton (Harvey) is a social climber who's bent on getting the cash as well as the girl! He does not care whose toes he treads on to get there - except perhaps that of Alice Aisgill (Signoret) who unintentionally gets in the way of his plans at the last minute.

Some heavy heart-rending scenes in this, which will move the most hardened viewers of both sexes to tears.

Also stars; Heather Sears, Raymond Huntley, Allan Cuthbertson, Ian Hendry, Wendy Craig and a young Prunella Scales.

A Great British Movie Classic!
6 people found this helpful
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VINE VOICEon 16 December 2007
Probably one of the most tragically romantic movies ever made - thanks to the beautiful actress Simone Signoret, who gives one of her most sincerest performances ever here, as she plays Alice Aisgill, whose unfortunate love-life is doomed to end in tragedy... Another outstanding actress who gave one of her finest performances captured in one fiery scene was Hermione Baddeley (who ironically in real life went on to have an affair with Laurence Harvey - a most unpredictable match if ever there was one)

Joe Lampton (Harvey) is a social climber who's bent on getting the cash as well as the girl! He does not care whose toes he treads on to get there - except perhaps that of Alice Aisgill (Signoret) who unintentionally gets in the way of his plans at the last minute.

Some heavy heart-rending scenes in this, which will move the most hardened viewers of both sexes to tears.

Also stars; Heather Sears, Raymond Huntley, Allan Cuthbertson, Ian Hendry, Wendy Craig and a young Prunella Scales.

A Great British Movie Classic!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 January 2013
My word this must have been a daring film in its time and even today has the ability to shock. A great script, wonderful performances, superb photography and great direction for cinematic master Jack Clayton result in a memorable, moving and very powerful feature which justifiably has received much critical favour. Despite the claims on the box that this transfer goes uses the original source material, the print is only okay and a little washed out. A restoration of this classic is called for, but in the interim this DVD is well worth having. There's a great little booklet with it too which provides some fascinating background written by an excellent critic.
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on 22 March 2018
classic film from 1959 - personally I preferred the follow up Life at the Top but need to see this film to enjoy the second, good DVD picture (B&W)
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on 20 March 2014
This is an excellent film, full of social history of a time that was changing rapidly, the enthusiasm of a young lad with get up and go meeting an older woman that had resigned herself to accept her 'lot' but found that life still had surprises but with consequences to both. Thoroughly watchable with both actors giving brilliant portrayals with an excellent cast and well directed film.
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