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L-Shaped Room, The (1962)

French girl Jane Fosset (Leslie Caron), who is expecting an illegitimate baby, comes to live in a seedy boarding house in the shabby Notting Hill district of London and gets involved with Toby (Tom Bell), an unstable young writer of sorts – which ends unhappily for both.

The “L-shaped room” of the title is her attic retreat, reduced to those dimensions by the landlady’s avaricious creation of another rentable space from a tiny section of the upper floor.

In this L-shaped room, the inevitable love affair between Jane and Toby develops, and there it ends when Toby is unable to accept the mother of another man’s child. She returns with her baby to France, he with new power to his typewriter.

Except for a leering and expensive would-be abortionist (Emlyn Williams) and one or two bit players, the characters in the film are all residents of the boarding house run by simpering Doris (Avis Bunnage). They are Jane and Toby; Johnny (Brock Peters), a West Indian jazz musician; Mavis (Cicely Courtneidge), a faded variety actress; and two prostitutes (Pat Phoenix and Verity Edmett).

Each is redeemed from stereotype by understanding and skill on the part of the performer and interesting twists of characterisation on the part of the writer. Mavis conceals not only a heart of gold beneath her wrinkled and painted exterior but also a history of loyal lesbianism. And one of the prostitutes is a Hungarian refugee.

Jane Fosset
Leslie Caron
Avis Bunnage
Pat Phoenix
Jane II
Verity Edmett
Tom Bell
Cicely Courtneidge
Dr Weaver
Emlyn Williams
Jennifer White
Brock Peters
Gerry Duggan
Mark Eden
Bernard Lee
New girl at L-shaped room
Nanette Newman

Bryan Forbes