The L-Shaped Room Film Details
Overview: A single, pregnant woman moves into a London boarding house where she meets a group of fellow misfits.
Tagline: Sex is not a forbidden word
Review: This gritty little film is the victim of it’s star’s glitz. Leslie Caron has been identified with many classic films, but they tend to be musicals (“An American in Paris”, “Lili, “Gigi”). Occasionally she is recalled for a dramatic performance – but it is usually “Fanny” which is pointed to, because the cast there is full of named stars (Boyer, Chevalier, and Buchholz). But her second Oscar nomination (after one for “Lili”) was for the role of Jane Fossett in “The L-Shaped Room”. While “Fanny” is set in a colorfully shot Marseilles and environs, “The L-Shaped Room” is set in the mean streets and rooming houses of grimy London districts. It is shot too in black and white. This makes the sadness of the story all the more intense, and helped make Caron’s performance here possibly the best she ever gave in an English speaking film. As for the cast here, only two (Cecile Courtneidge as “Mavis” and Emlyn Williams as “Dr. Weaver”) had reputations on par with Cevalier and Boyer in stage and screen work, and a third (Brock Peters as “Johnny”, the Anglo – Caribbean who is the neighbor of Jane) is better recalled for his smaller part of the defendant that Gregory Peck tries to save in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. “The L-Shaped Room” is about Jane, a Frenchwoman who comes to England to get away from her puritanical and harsh parents in France, in order to have a child she got from a one night stand with an actor she met on one occasion. She checks into a boarding house (on the top floor – attic rooms) run by Doris (Avis Brunnage). Initially Jane plans to have the baby aborted – and she got the name and address of a Harley Street specialist Dr. Weaver. But the self-satisfied Weaver is so sure of himself (he knows all the answers from his patients, and he knows how to steer the patient to the story facts he needs to know to protect himself from prosecution for giving abortions, that he turns off Jane even before she realizes his price (100 guineas in 1962 – about two thousand dollars today with inflation rates). Caron tells off the amazed Weaver (Williams just can’t believe this one is not behaving like the other unwed mothers and taking orders), and tells him she is now convinced to have the child. The film follows Caron’s interaction with the other people in the boarding house, including Doris, Mavis (a one time West End headliner), Sonia (Patricia Phoenix) and Jane II (Verity Edmet) – two prostitutes, Toby (Tom Bell) – a struggling writer, and Johnny. In the course of her pregnancy she gets to see the secrets in most of their lives, in particular Mavis (a decent woman, who had a secret lover who died), and Toby, with whom Jane falls in love. But the pregnancy becomes a major factor in Jane’s sexual/emotional tie to Toby. Will it derail their love or not? Caron is intense in the film, whether telling off Williams, or trying to come to an understanding with Bell. Without over-acting she does make one see a woman who has been deserted by everyone in a moment of need, but determined not to destroy what can be the best thing in her life up until now. The film observes her decision and how it pans out, and how the rest of the world accepts it, or rejects it, or just passes it by. “The L-Shaped Room” has never been a very popular film. My suspicion is that in a world where the issue of who has the right to have an abortion, and the right of the woman to choose, is so touchy to so many people, the fact that the abortion method is thrown away just not really popular with many modern audiences. Like it’s contemporary film, LOVE WITH A PROPER STRANGER, despite the well produced movie results, the message against abortion (even if thoroughly understandable) is just not acceptable in many quarters as a solution to the problem. It so, the movie audiences at revival houses are missing one fine film and a grade-“A” performance by Caron here.
Duration: 126 min
Genre: Drama, Romance
Also known as: Vinkelværelset,A Mulher que Pecou,To domatio tis amartias,Угловая комната,El cuarto indiscreto,The L-Shaped Room,Das indiskrete Zimmer,Pokój w ksztalcie L,La Chambre indiscrète,Kiadó szoba,La habitación en forma de L,Salattu rakkaus,Rum för obemärkt,L型の部屋,La stanza a forma di L,Az ‘L’ alakú szoba,De unge på kvisten