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Oscar Wilde (1960)

 -  Biography | Drama | History  -  May 1960 (UK)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 239 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 2 critic

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Title: Oscar Wilde (1960)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Phyllis Calvert ...
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...
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Sir Edgar Clarke
Edward Chapman ...
Martin Benson ...
George Alexander
Robert Harris ...
Justice Henn Collins
Henry Oscar ...
William Devlin ...
Solicitor-General
Stephen Dartnell ...
Cobble
Ronald Leigh-Hunt ...
Lionel Johnson
Martin Boddey ...
Insp. Richards
Leonard Sachs ...
Richard Legallienne
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May 1960 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Forbidden Passion  »

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1.37 : 1
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Trivia

Robert Morley made his name on the stage playing Oscar Wilde at the London Gate Theatre in 1936. The play was a success despite being banned from major London theatres because of its theme of homosexuality, and was later produced in America with Morely making his Broadway debut in the part on October 10, 1938. The play was a hit in New York and ran 247 performances, a substantial run at the time for a straight play. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Gregory Ratoff's got only the best film about Oscar Wilde to declare
11 October 2006 | by See all my reviews

Without a doubt, this is the film to see if you are deeply interested in this unconventional and fabulous writer that was Oscar Wilde. Two other films about him were shot: "the Trials of Oscar Wilde" and Brian Gilbert's work in 1997 but they aren't found wanting to Gregory Ratoff's version.

Of course, it's indisputable that Ratoff's film was made with restricted means as the cheap scenery testify. It sometimes gives way to drawbacks like in the very last sequence which shows Wilde after his lost trial sitting at the terrace of a Parisian café and next to him, one can hear a musician playing the accordion. A perfect cliché about France. But it's minor quibble and anyway, given the means Ratoff had at his disposal, was there another way to show the audience that Wilde was in Paris under the pseudonym of Sébastien Melmott? Anyway, one can eminently forget the scenery and admire how Ratoff conceived his film. First, he eschewed many traps of the biopic film including the following one: to relate all Wilde's life from his childhood. He chose to steer his film on the period of his life which began with the relationship Wilde developed with his young protégé Lord Alfred Douglas. In a nutshell, this scandalous love (for the time) was the beginning of the end for the witty writer who fell foul of the chic, posh Victorian society. As everyone knows, homosexuality was banned in this very conservative, ossified society and it could only end up as a trial for Wilde. A trial he could only lose but during which he showed a stalwart courage thanks to his own witty answers. This trial is the pinnacle of the film and Ratoff succeeds in incorporating elements of Wilde's anterior life like the introduction at the outset of his wondrous novel "the Picture of Dorian Gray" (1889). And one can only admire his style to film the evolution of this trial and the verbal exchanges between Wilde and sir Edward Carson. At first, Wilde seems sure of himself and his cues make the audience laugh but bit by bit confidence leaves him as he is dwarfed by dogged Carson's ruthless questions. In the long run, Ratoff weaves a stifling atmosphere and it's impossible not to feel it.

All you have to do is to sit and admire the quality of the dialogs and also of the actors. Robert Morley confers to his main character the wit and wisdom which made Wilde famous. And Ralph Richardson equally delivers a prime performance. But John Neville seems too old for the role Lord Alfred Douglas. In the most recent version, Jude Law was a better choice thanks to his relatively young age.

Of course, this film will never supersede a good book about one of the most crucial writers who existed on this planet but Ratoff's work makes him justice.


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