The Bigger They Are the Harder They Fall

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Room at the Top, directed by Jack Clayton in 1959, follows the story of an ambitious young man, Joe Lampton. Joe has recently moved from a Dufton, to Warnley securing a good but poorly paid position at the Borough Treasurer’s Department. He is evidently not a man of wealth and tries desperately to reach the top of the social class in his new living environment. On the way, he falls in love with two different women, the daughter of the local industrial powerhouse, Susan Brown and an unhappily married older French woman, Alice. He struggles to gain the recognition and respect of Susan’s parents and people of higher class, especially that of Jack Wales, but eventually he wins the hearts and love of both Susan and Alice. With Susan, he gains higher class and a career that will provide him with enough money for the rest of his life. With Alice, he experiences true love with an older and more mature woman and he is guaranteed a happier life, but in turn he does not acquire his desired wealth and social status. His inability to choose either love and happiness or power and wealth leads to his downfall into his final state of misery and guilt.

Having met both women at the Warley Thespians, an amateur dramatic society, Joe is immediately attracted to Susan, and this attraction is surprisingly returned by the wealthy Susan. As for Alice, Joe’s relationship with her starts off as a friend he would go to for advice about relationships and how to deal with them, but she later becomes an escape to solace for Joe and ultimately someone to fulfill his sexual needs. Susan appears to be an empty headed and naïve girl and is superficial as she sees Joe for his good looks and youth. She is willing to leave Jack Wales for a working class man that has just recently moved into town. In the film when Joe encounters Mr. and Mrs. Brown and Jack Wales, they belittle him and act in a rather snobbish manner, only the father really holds a bit of respect for him. Every time Jack sees Joe...
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