Room at the Top (1959): Making of British Masterpiece–Casting, Direction, Shooting, Locales, Impact

Casting:

Simone Signoret gives a distinguished performance–it’s hard to think of the film without her– though she was not the first choice for the part.

Producer James Woolf bought the film rights to the novel, as a vehicle for Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons.

Vivien Leigh was originally offered the part of Alice, in which Simone Signoret was eventually cast.

He hired Jack Clayton as director after seeing “The Bespoke Overcoat,” a short on which John Woolf had worked and their film company had produced.

Room at the Top is considered to the first of the British New Wave of Kitchen sink realism film dramas.

It was shot at Shepperton Studios in Surrey, with extensive location work in Halifax, Yorkshire, which stood in for the fictional towns of Warnley and Dufton.

Some scenes were also shot in Bradford, whe Joe is riding on a bus and spotting Susan in a lingerie shop and the outside of the amateur dramatics theatre.

Greystones, a large mansion in the Savile Park area of Halifax, was used for location filming of the exterior scenes of the Brown family mansion.

Halifax railway station doubled as Warnley Station, and Halifax Town Hall was used for the Warnley Town Hall filming.

Critically acclaimed, the film marked the beginning of Jack Clayton’s career as an important director.

Commercial Hit

It became the third most popular film at the British box office in 1959 after Carry On Nurse and Inn of the Sixth Happiness (starring Ingrid Bergman) grossing $700,000.

Disappointing Sequel

Room at the Top was followed by a sequel in 1965 called Life at the Top.