“Don’t hurt her, Joe; don’t ever hurt her.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
While Peary doesn’t review Room at the Top in his GFTFF, he briefly discusses Signoret’s Oscar-winning performance in Alternate Oscars, where he points out that “Signoret, a French actress in a British film, became the first actress in a non-American film to win the Best Actress Oscar.” He adds: “As had been the case in her European films, Signoret was impeccable, giving one of her typically strong, moving, honest portrayals. Significantly, American viewers were taken with a rare movie female who is forty and slightly overweight yet is extremely sensual… ” He asserts that while “Signoret’s part wasn’t really substantial” (I disagree), she “was impressive enough to have warranted the Best Actress Oscar… had it not been for Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot” (who he gives the award to instead).
I’m in agreement with Peary’s assessment of Signoret’s compelling performance, which is both heart-breaking and nuanced. This former war-bride (who surely only ended up with Cuthbertson due to lack of other options) is in an undeniable pickle, and we understand her despair when things don’t work out with Harvey as hoped.
Meanwhile, Harvey’s character gradually shows more depth as well: while we despise his naked ambitions, we come to realize that he does feel things deeply, and has a conscience lurking just beneath the surface of his calculating demeanor.
This film doesn’t present any easy solutions to the dilemmas it poses, but its honest portrayal of class relations and thwarted romance make it well worth a one-time look (even if it may be too depressing for repeat visits).
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: