Life at the Top Film Details
Overview: In this sequel to Room at the Top (1959), Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey) thinks he has really made it by marrying the boss’s daughter in his northern mill town. But he finds he is being sidelined at work and his private life manipulated by his father-in-law.
Tagline: The more they live it up the more they have to live it down!
Review: Unfairly characterized as a mere sequel to ROOM AT THE TOP (1959), Ted Kotcheff’s LIFE AT THE TOP is actually a strong film in its own right. It completely avoids soap opera by focusing on the complex inner lives of the character and by making keen observations on class, success, sex and love. The story follows the life of Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey), several years after his marriage to Susan Brown (Jean Simmons, replacing Heather Sears). Life as local business mogul Brown’s son-in-law and employee has not met with Joe’s aspirations. His marriage to Susan has devolved to polite interchanges, his social circle is limited mostly to those who see him as a lower-class interloper, and his career is stagnated. On top of this, Joe is haunted by memories of Alice (Simone Signoret in ROOM AT THE TOP), for whose suicide he feels responsible. When temptation to stray turns up in the form of Norah (Honor Blackman), Joe resists until the inadvertent discovery of Susan’s infidelity with their handsome friend Mark (Michael Craig). Tossing away what he does have with Susan and their two children, Joe attempts a new life in London with Norah, only to find he is trapped by his limitations and that he already had the best life available to him. Laurence Harvey is at the peak of his talents in this film. He brings tremendous range and dimension to Joe, better even than in 1959. It’s a pleasure to watch him so truthfully play out every moment in a film where he is almost constantly on screen. Jean Simmons impresses as well. A mature, yet still beautiful actress was needed for the role, and she fits it perfectly, displaying erotic desperation and contained sorrow. The rest of the cast is made up of top-drawer actors across the board: Donald Wolfit as Brown, doomed and enraged; Michael Craig as Mark, over-confident, yet weak at the core; Margaret Johnston, sharp-tongued and amused by Mark’s womanizing; Robert Morley, Honor Blackman, Alan Cuthbertson, Ambrosine Phillpotts. All add tremendously to the film. The direction by Kotcheff has economy and dramatic force. Richard Addinsell’s score is very effective in underlining the story’s emotional textures, and cinematographer Oswald Morris captures an expressively gray, British quality almost unique to films of the period. This is an intelligent, sometimes surprisingly frank film made for adults. Very much worth preserving on any video format.
Duration: 117 min
Also known as: Escândalo na alta roda,Les chemins de la puissance,Elämää huipulla,I megali zoi,Att leva på toppen,Zirvedeki Hayat,Ein Platz ganz oben,Life at the Top,Flagrante adulterio,Livet på toppen,Zivot na vrhu,Leilão de Almas,Subasta de almas,Vivir en la cumbre,Zivot na vrvot