L-Shaped Room, The (1962)

L-Shaped Room, The (1962)

“I can’t be brave all the time; only in small doses.”

A pregnant unwed French woman (Leslie Caron) finds lodging in an l-shaped room in a boarding house run by a stingy woman (Avis Bunnage), where she quickly befriends a trumpeter (Brock Peters) and a former music hall performer (Cicely Courtneidge), and falls for an aspiring writer (Tom Bell) who doesn’t know about her unborn baby.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Bryan Forbes Films
  • Leslie Caron Films
  • Pregnancy
  • Strong Females

Peary doesn’t review this “kitchen sink drama” by director Bryan Forbes in his GFTFF, but does name Caron Best Actress of the Year in his Alternate Oscars, where he notes she “broke out of her Hollywood shackles with a bold performance.” He provides some context for this seemingly “pro-life” (actually pro-choice) film, noting that “in its day” it “was quite daring because it broke away from the tradition of having the pregnant woman either suffer a miscarriage, give birth to a stillborn baby, or die herself” as “a payback for having ‘sinned.'”


He points out that “Caron’s Jane doesn’t have the baby because she is against abortions per se (at one time she takes pills to cause a miscarriage) but because her baby’s birth will be a means of injecting ‘life’ – figuratively and literally – into her dreary existence.” While she “loves the people in her boardinghouse,” they “are all lonely, unfulfilled, and unhappy” — what you might call “deadbeats.”

Peary writes that in this non-MGM film, Caron “revealed a sexual maturity that her fans were unprepared for,” looking “like a real woman for a change” and “more appealing than ever.” Moreover, “there was something enticing as well as admirable about this woman who refuses to marry the man who impregnated her, or let a quack male doctor give her an abortion so he can pay his bills, or get an abortion though it would guarantee the love of Toby [Bell], the man she loves.”

Indeed, Caron’s nuanced, highly empathetic performance grounds this film, reassuring us that Jane herself will be okay no matter how others around her treat her (which is often quite shabbily). It’s a harsh film but a daringly frank one, and well worth a look.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Leslie Caron as Jane
  • Fine supporting performances
  • Atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
Yes, primarily for Caron’s performance but also as an overall good show. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.


  • Good Show
  • Noteworthy Performance(s)


One thought on “L-Shaped Room, The (1962)

  1. First viewing 12/27/20. Not must-see.

    A moderately interesting ‘kitchen sink’ drama, notable in its day for the performance which earned Caron some awards (Golden Globe, BAFTA, Oscar nom) but which, nevertheless, hasn’t particularly aged well.

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