Life at the Top

Date: 1965
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Production Company: Romulus Films

Stars: Laurence Harvey, Jean Simmons, Honor Blackman, Michael Craig, Donald Wolfit
Location(s): London, Yorkshire

Region(s): ,


Married to the wealthy boss’s daughter and with two children, a successful businessman becomes disillusioned.

Additional Information:

Screen captures by Phil Wilkinson

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Joe Lampton brings his S-Type Jaguar to a stand on the moors. Keighley Road crossing Rombalds Moor in Yorkshire with the Keighley television masts in the right background.

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Four Men appear, carrying large baskets. Rombalds Moor, also referred to as Ilkley Moor, between Ilkley and Keighley.

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Racing pigeons fly homeward after being released from the baskets. Cowper’s Cross on Rombalds Moor, in West Yorkshire since 1974.

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Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey) takes in the working class scene. Rombalds Moor with Keighley television relay transmitter in the left background.

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Now married to the daughter of a wealthy mill owner, Joe continues his way to work. The Beacon Hill Road on Pineberry Hill to the east of Halifax in Yorkshire. The road runs above Southowram Bank which is seen in ‘Yanks’.

The camera pans with the car as it passes. Beacon Hill Road overlooking Halifax. Keith Barrett mentions that the cooling towers, known locally as the Salt and Pepper Pots, were demolished in 1974 at a cost of £26,000, far above the £9,000 required to build them.

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The same scene taken from a slightly different angle, due to tree growth. Keith Barrett explains that the cooling towers, known locally as the Salt and Pepper Pots, were demolished in 1974 at a cost of £26,000. They cost £9,000 when they were originally built!

Joe approaches the mill owned by his father in law, Abe Brown. The former Whetley Mills operated by Daniel Illingworth & Sons on Thornton Road in Bradford, Yorkshire identified by Keith Barrett.

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Same place fifty years later and an excellent photo by Keith.

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The Gatekeeper is alerted by the sound of the car’s horn as Joe looks up at the hard stone walls. The gateway to Daniel Illingworth & Sons worsted mill on Thornton Road in Brown Royd, Bradford located by Keith Barrett.

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The gates slam shut as the Jaguar is parked in its reserved space. Whetley Mills is presently being converted for residential use.

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The successful executive gets out of his car and walks to his office. Mark Bamborough tells us “My dad worked at Whetley Mills and appeared on a passing wagon while Harvey was talking in the foreground but I’m not sure if his scene was cut. He earned £5 to the driver's £15."

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Escaping steam hisses from leaky pipes as Joe walks through the complex. The still standing Whetley Mills on Thornton Road, Bradford.

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Church bells ring out on a Sunday morning.

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At White Lodge, the family’s suburban home, Joe enjoys a day off with his children. The Chalet on Queen’s Drive in Ilkley, Yorkshire spotted by Oliver Denton.

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The Newspaper Boy (Michael Newport) makes his delivery before being asked inside by Joe. The driveway of The Chalet in Ilkley.

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After church, Joe and his wife Susan attend a sherry party given by Abe Brown.

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In the grounds, Joe talks with television presenter Norah Hauxley (Honor Blackman) after being introduced to her by his mother in law.

Before boarding the train that will take him back to Hillbrow Preparatory School in Rawleigh, Harry Lampton (Paul A. Martin) walks silently with his father. Ilkley station off Station Road in Ilkley, Yorkshire.

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The houses would have been behind the carriage then.

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Other Boys watch as Joe attempts to kiss his son. The island platform at Ilkley station with buildings at the junction of Station Road, Springs Lane, Cowpasture Lane and Chantry Drive filling the background.

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Abe Brown (Donald Wolfit) hands his grandson money to spend as Mrs. Brown (Ambrosine Phillpotts) and Susan Lampton (Jean Simmons) look on.

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Joe gives a look that sums up his feelings for his father in law. Looking east from Ilkley station.

Sad to be leaving his family, Harry looks back from the train as it departs. Ilkley station in Ilkley.

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The same platform and canopy.

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Following dinner at the Browns’ house, Joe and Susan visit the Country Club. Oakwood Hall on Lady Lane, Bingley in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

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At Bradford Wool Exchange Norah Hauxley presents a television recording. The building stands on Market Street, although today's address is Hustlergate, and was Grade I listed in 1963.

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As Norah tells her viewers that the Bradford Wool Exchange is unique in the world, Joe Lampton conducts his business. The exchange ceased trading in the 1960s and now houses a small shopping centre.

Given a coffee after her piece to camera, Norah takes a break from the crowded floor. Bradford Wool Exchange . . . .

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. . . is now a Waterstones book shop advises Terry White who notes that the door and stairs are still visible and in use as an exit under the clock tower.

Joe decides against talking to the television personality.

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Picture by Terry White.

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A shot of Trafalgar Square in WC2 signals Joe’s arrival in the Capital to discuss an order with a regular client.

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A taxi turns to drop the Northerner off at the Savoy Hotel. Strand in WC2 with Exeter Street to the right.

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The camera follows the black cab into Savoy Court off Strand.

Joe pays the Cabbie before entering the hotel where he meets with businessman Tiffield and his associate Mottram. The entrance to the Savoy Hotel on Savoy Court WC1.

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Only the doormats have changed.

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Arriving back in Warnley, Joe is collected from the station by Abe. Outside Marylebone station on Melcombe Place in NW1.

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The same spot. (PW)

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The mill owner’s Rolls Royce Silver Cloud glides from the station forecourt. Facing west on Melcombe Place.

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How kind of them not to knock me down. (PW)

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Returning home late, Joe notices Mark’s car outside before entering the house where he discovers his friend in bed with Susan. The Chalet on Queen’s Drive, Ilkley.

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Leaving the house, Mark (Michael Craig) looks for the dog that Joe has let out of his MG.

In the early hours, Joe walks out after talking all night with Susan. The Chalet in Ilkley located by Oliver Denton.

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Oliver also found this image of the property.

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Alone with his thoughts, Joe walks through Warnley’s industrial landscape. The pattern of cooling towers indicate that this is Valley Road Power Station in Bradford.

Young working class lads jump into a canal. Tim Moon advises that this is the Leeds & Liverpool canal to the east of Shipley town centre with Briggate visible through the gateway to the right.

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The same canal side taken by Tim Moon.

The shot pans as the boys swim in the grimy water, bringing Gallows Bridge into view. The location was found by Tim Moon . . .

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. . . who also provides this comparison.

Joe watches the scene that might have been part of his own youth as he crosses the cut. Tim Moon tells us that the location is just behind the now closed Bull public house on Briggate in Shipley, Yorkshire.

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Tim pans with the action.

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Thinking that the well-dressed man is from the Council, two Women approach. Wood Street, running down to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Rodley, Leeds. Properties on Keel Moorings now occupy the site. (PW)

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Joe flees when the Women ask about rehousing them from their canal side slums. Back Wood Street in Rodley. (PW)

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With life at home an increasing strain, in pouring rain Joe arrives at the building where Norah has an apartment.

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As the Council elections approach, a Bedford minibus fitted with a loudspeaker passes along the streets of the more well to do areas of Warnley.

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The camera pans with the vehicle revealing Joe Lampton as the Conservative candidate.

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The minibus mistakenly turns into a lower class street. Looking into Westgrove Street from Rebecca Street in Bradford.

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Reversing from the street, the minibus speeds away. Looking along Undercliff Street in Bradford with Barkerend Mill to the top left. Much of Undercliff Street has been demolished and replaced by Hendford Drive.

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After winning a seat on the Council, Norah tells Joe that she is leaving for London the next day as a desirable job has become vacant. The nave of Fountains Abbey, a ruined Cistercian monastery three miles south-west of Ripon in Yorkshire recognised by Stephanie McQuaid.

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Joe tries to explain that he doesn't know what he'll do without her. Fountains Abbey near the village of Aldfield.

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Looking up at the tower from the nave. Fountains Abbey is Grade I listed and a world heritage site advises Stephanie McQuaid.

Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 and operated for 407 years until its dissolution in 1539.

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Stephanie McQuaid provides this view.

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“If you need me you'll come to London”. The cellarium at Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire.

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Joe causes uproar in the Council Chamber as he reveals his anti-establishment position whilst making his maiden speech. The clock tower of Bradford City Hall on Norfolk Street, now Norfolk Gardens. The trolleybus wires suggest that this is a view from the north-east.

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Leaving his job, political career, wife and family, Joe drives to London. On the M4 above the Great West Road in Brentford heading towards London with the clock on Henleys car dealership and Flyover House, now Vantage House, in the left distance.

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Having lost everything he had achieved in Warnley, Joe reaches the Capital. Looking down on Westminster Bridge and the River Thames with the Houses of Parliament filling the background.

Parking Susan's Mini Traveller, Joe sets out to find Norah’s office. St. James's Street, London SW1 with The Economist Building to the left.

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Captured from almost the same spot. SJ

Joe looks up at the modern headquarters of LON-TV. The Economist Building on St. James' Street.

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Are they the same clouds? SJ

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Hand in hand, the Norah and Joe run from the building. The Economist Plaza off St. James's Street which is also seen in ‘Sebastian’ and 'The Jokers'.

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No longer known as The Economist Plaza, this is now Smithson Plaza. (PW)

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Needing an income, Joe seeks out Tiffield who had offered him a job during their previous meeting. This has the appearance of Lee House at 125 London Wall which was demolished to make way for Alban Gate. Tris advises that Alban Gate was completed in 1992 after construction began in the late 80s.

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Tiffield (Robert Morley) tells Joe that the position is still open but he has to go through the same process as the other candidates.

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Joe arrives for the interview and the formality of seeing an industrial psychologist. Royex House on Aldermanbury Square in London EC2. The building was demolished and replaced in 2004.

Inside the building, Joe finds himself out of his depth as he faces the panel. St. Alphage Highwalk with London Wall to the bottom right identified by Adrian Grepnold. The area also features in ‘Three Hats for Lisa’, ‘Ladies Who Do’, ‘The London Nobody Knows’ and ‘Go to Blazes’ amongst others.

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Taken on the Highwalk to the south of London Wall by Adrian Grepnold.

Without work and with his relationship suffering, Joe almost calls home. Lower Mall, Hammersmith W6 with The Rutland Arms in the left background and Hammersmith Bridge crossing the Thames to the right. The location appears in ‘Night and the City’ and ‘Cassandra's Dream’.

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A similar view now, without the prop telephone kiosk.

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At her parent’s house, Susan speaks with her father before heading to London to find her husband.

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Following the merger between A. Z. Brown and Hethersett’s, George Aisgill (Allan Cuthbertson) leaves the mill after a board meeting. The former Whetley Mills in Bradford.

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Fellow board member Ralph Hethersett (Ian Shand) gets into his car.

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The view from Whetley Mills of long the demolished Lingfield Dye and Alston Wool works on the south side of Thornton Road with City Road Goods Station and the city centre beyond.

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Glancing up at the new name on the chimney, Joe Lampton leaves the mill as chairman of the board of Brown & Hethersett Ltd. Looking towards the gate that opens onto Thornton Road.

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Joe gets into his Maserati Quattroporte to drive home. Whetley Mills on Thornton Road, Bradford in West Yorkshire.