Woman In A Dressing Gown Reissue

Gripping kitchen sink classic returns to cinemas tomorrow!

An atypically female-focused piece by J Lee Thompson (who went on to helm Ice Cold In Alex, The Guns Of Navarone and the original Cape Fear), 1957’s London-set Woman In A Dressing Gown predated the British New Wave by a good two years and was a contemporary box office hit, yet tends to be overshadowed by the many worthwhile, angry young Northern men movies which followed at the dawn of the Sixties. Yvonne Mitchell won a Berlin Silver Bear award for her brittle performance as unkempt housewife Amy, whose frantically amplified cheeriness and love of music veil a raw nerve desperation that surfaces to heartbreaking effect once her softly spoken husband Jim (a sympathetic turn by Anthony Quayle) confesses his love for beautiful co-worker Georgie (the young Sylvia Syms). This affair is played out in the latter’s serene basement flat, neatly contrasted with the chaotic, cluttered high rise barely maintained by our titular, radio-blasting heroine.

Groundbreaking in its depiction of everyday adultery and socially defined gender roles – imagine a homegrown counterpart to Douglas Sirk’s subversive melodramas, strikingly lit black and white replacing lush Technicolor – Woman In A Dressing Gown reads like realist drudgery but proves a tense watch. Ted Willis’ script is acutely observed and Thompson directs with economical flair: there’s a simple yet effective recurring ‘domestic jail’ motif (window railings, headboards and banisters substituting for prison bars), while the portrayal of Amy’s mental unravelling is accentuated by a bravura sequence of minor physical calamities. Remastered for theatrical release – a full list of screenings can be found here – the film will be introduced by Sylvia Syms this Sunday July 29 at Curzon Mayfair. It debuts on DVD on August 13, courtesy of StudioCanal.

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