On film, Steaming lacks the impact it had on stage. The ebullience and sheer fun of the original [play by Nell Dunn] have mostly disappeared and, although this is by no means an earnest women’s lib tract, it’s a lesser experience.
There’s no opening out – all the action takes place in a rundown steam bath on ladies day. Here we find the manager, Violet (Diana Dors), worried that the lcoal council is going to close the place down; Josie (Patti Love), an ebullient type forever talking about her sex life; conservative Mrs Meadows (Brenda Bruce) and her daughter, Dawn (Felicity Dean); and the upper-class Sarah (Sarah Miles) who introduces her friend, Nancy (Vanessa Redgrave), to the group.
Performances are all very strong, with Redgrave probably making the least impact in the rather tight-lipped role of Nancy. Miles positively glows as Sarah, while Love seizes all her opportunities in the flashiest role. Dors, who like director Joseph Losey, died soon after the film was completed, is quietly effective as the motherly Violet.