Oscar Wilde's homosexuality is exposed when he tries to defend himself against his lover's father.



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


In the 1890s, famed writer Oscar Wilde (Robert Morley) embarks on a relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas (John Neville), despite his marriage to Constance (Phyllis Calvert). This relationship and its consequences are the focus of this dramatization of Wilde's life. Wilde sues Alfred's father, the Marquis of Queensberry (Edward Chapman), for libel - a lawsuit that turns against him when a prosecuting lawyer forces him to admit to his homosexuality, leading to a second lawsuit. Written by mahajanssen

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Wife of Oscar Wilde...who's private life became public when her husband's controversial attitudes towards love and sex caused a national scandal!


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Release Date:

May 1960 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Forbidden Passion  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


When Oscar Wilde is asked to state his name at the beginning of his trial testimony, he incorrectly replies "Oscar O'Flahertie Fingal Wills Wilde," transposing the names O'Flahertie and Fingal. The correct name, mentioned several times a few minutes before in the reading of the charge by the clerk of the court, is Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde. 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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