Oscar Movies: L-Shaped Room, The (1963)

Leslie Caron received her second Best Actress Oscar nomination for playing a French woman named Jane Fosset, who goes to London and decides to keep her out-of wedlock baby, instead of having an abortion.

The title of this serio comedy, directed and written by Bryan Forbes, based on the novel by Lynne Reid Banks, derives from the shape of the small, shabby room that Jane rents in a sleazy boarding house in Notting Hill Gate (before the neighborhood became chic).

The house is populated by other lonely souls and social outcasts, such as Toby (Tom Bell, excellent), a writer who falls in love with her, but departs when he finds out she’s pregnant.

The subject matter was considered mature and risque, because abortion was illegal at the time. But the film is way too long (two hours and 22 minutes), verbose, and many of its characters are unpleasant.

Take Mavis (Cicely Courtneidge), an aging actress who lives in the flat below, who gives Jane some pills(which don’t work), or Dr. Weaver (Emlyn Williams), a selfish, greedy gynecologist, who inadvertently changes Jane’s mind to keep the baby, or Toby’s best friend (Brock Peters), a nasty, conservative jazz musician who causes the break.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Best Actress: Leslie Caron

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Best Actress Oscar was Patricia Neal for “Hud,” in a contest that included Shirley MacLaine in “Irma La Douce,” Rachel Roberts in “This Sporting Life,” and Natalie Wood in “Love With the Proper Stranger.”