Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

LIFE AT THE TOP

Laurence Harvey and Jean Simmons
LIFE AT THE TOP (1965). Director: Ted Kotcheff.

"You say you want a better life, but when you do step up a peg or two you hate yourself for it."

"He was smart enough to knock up the boss's daughter in days gone by, and that, mate, is real social security."

In this sequel to Room at the Top, some years have passed since Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey) married the boss's daughter, Susan (now played by Jean Simmons). He works for his father-in-law, Abe Brown's (Donald Wolfit) firm, and is finishing up a report that he feels will be important to the company. Abe wants Joe to run for the council, but Joe's more liberal attitudes toward the working poor are at odds with the attitudes of his father-in-law. When Susan enters into an adulterous relationship with one of Joe's best friends, Joe finds himself increasingly drawn to TV commentator Norah Hauxley (Honor Blackman of Goldfinger). But will he find that he can achieve new success so quickly on his own, or did everything simply come too easily due to his connections? Life at the Top is not the masterpiece of the original film, but the performances are uniformly excellent, with Harvey, Simmons, and Wolfit [Blood of the Vampire] in splendid form. Michael Craig is fine as Joe's insouciant friend, Mark, although Margaret Johnstone [The Psychopath] as his wife, Sybil, seems a little unreal. An interesting early scene has Joe inviting the paper boy into the house for a warm cup of tea while he and his own son, Harry (Paul A, Martin), look at each other warily due to the class differences.

Verdict: Absorbing drama with differing points of view and outstanding performances. ***.

No comments: