Prick Up Your Ears (1987)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  8 May 1987 (USA)
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This film is the story of the spectacular life and violent death of British playwright Joe Orton. In his teens, Orton is befriended by the older, more reserved Kenneth Halliwell, and while ... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peggy Ramsay
John Lahr
Anthea Lahr
Elsie Orton
James Grant ...
William Orton
Leonie Orton
Janet Dale ...
Mrs Sugden
Dave Atkins ...
Mr Sugden
Madame Lambert
Eric Richard ...
Education Officer
William Job ...
RADA Chairman
Rosalind Knight ...
RADA Judge
Angus MacKay ...
RADA Judge


This film is the story of the spectacular life and violent death of British playwright Joe Orton. In his teens, Orton is befriended by the older, more reserved Kenneth Halliwell, and while the two begin a relationship, it's fairly obvious that it's not all about sex. Orton loves the dangers of bath-houses and liaisons in public restrooms; Halliwell, not as charming or attractive as Orton, doesn't fare so well in those environs. While both long to become writers, it is Orton who achieves fame - his plays "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" and "Loot" become huge hits in London of the sixties, and he's even commissioned to write a screenplay for the Beatles. But Orton's success takes him farther from Halliwell, whose response ended both his life and the life of the up-and-coming playwright. Written by Gary Dickerson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

playwright | writer | sex | death | love | See All (255) »


They shared everything - except success.


Biography | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 May 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ciuliti-va urechile  »

Box Office


$1,654,743 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The first film of Steven Mackintosh. See more »


When Joe's agent first meets him in 1964, she asks him how he's been supporting himself. He tells her he's on public assistance, getting £3.10 per week. New pence weren't introduced until 1971. However, in the pre-decimal era, "Three pounds ten" would have been understood as "Three pounds and ten shillings", the present-day equivalent being £3.50. For example, "Maggie Mae", recorded by the Beatles in 1969 but based on a much older traditional song, includes the line "Two pounds ten a week, that was my pay." See more »


Kenneth Halliwell: The whole point about irrational behavior is that it IS irrational!
See more »


References My Favorite Brunette (1947) See more »


Indian Dance
Music by M. Kansara
De Wolfe Music Ltd
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User Reviews

Very moving and sad

I never heard of Joe Orton before I saw this, but now I want to know more. Performances here are flawless, Molina and Oldman take risks very few actors would take. I wish the filmmakers had spent a little more time on Orton's work, and less on his sex life, but this is a small complaint. I give this a 9, and laugh wholeheartedly at the joke in the title.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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