Prick Up Your Ears (1987)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  8 May 1987 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 4,265 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 26 critic

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 »



, (book)
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Sammy and Rosie are an unconventional middle-class London married couple. They live in the midst of inner-city chaos, surround themselves with intellectual street people, and sleep with ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Shashi Kapoor, Claire Bloom, Frances Barber
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An ambitious Asian Briton and his white lover strive for success and hope, when they open up a glamorous laundromat.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth, Daniel Day-Lewis
Chattahoochee (1989)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

In 1955 Florida, a Korean vet has a breakdown and is incarcerated in a "maximum security" mental health prison, where patients are abused.

Director: Mick Jackson
Stars: Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Frances McDormand
Track 29 (1988)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A doctor's wife tires of his obsession with model trains, and spends her days wondering about the son she gave up for adoption at birth. While eating at a roadside cafe, she encounters a ... See full summary »

Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: Theresa Russell, Gary Oldman, Christopher Lloyd
Criminal Law (1988)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Oldman plays a lawyer who defends a killer, but, soon after he wins he finds out that the killer is guilty.

Director: Martin Campbell
Stars: Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, Tess Harper
Meantime (TV Movie 1984)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An odd film, primarily looking at how the dole affects the underclass in Britain. Tim Roth stars as Colin, a slow and possibly intellectually disabled man living with his parents and ... See full summary »

Director: Mike Leigh
Stars: Marion Bailey, Tim Roth, Phil Daniels
Sid and Nancy (1986)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Morbid biographical story of Sid Vicious, bassist with British punk group the Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. When the Sex Pistols break up after their fateful US tour, ... See full summary »

Director: Alex Cox
Stars: Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, David Hayman
The Hit (1984)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two hit men pick up ex-gangster Willie to escort him back to Paris to face his betrayed colleagues. The road trip suffers from complications.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Freddie Stuart, Ralph Brown, A.J. Clarke
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Terry Noonan returns home to New York's Hells Kitchen after a ten year absence. He soon hooks up with childhood pal Jackie who is involved in the Irish mob run by his brother Frankie. Terry... See full summary »

Director: Phil Joanou
Stars: Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Two minor characters from the play, "Hamlet" stumble around unaware of their scripted lives and unable to deviate from them.

Director: Tom Stoppard
Stars: Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Richard Dreyfuss
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An aimless young man, Johnny, is sent prison. He entrusts his beloved dog, Evie, to the care of his former lover and best friend, Frank. When he gets out of prison, he has to face ... See full summary »

Director: Colin Gregg
Stars: Alan Bates, Max Wall, Liz Smith
Remembrance (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A group of Devonport-based Royal Navy ratings, due to sail to America for a six-month NATO exercise, go out on the town on their last night in port, hitting Plymouth's notorious Union ... See full summary »

Director: Colin Gregg
Stars: Roger Adamson, John Altman, Dawn Archibald


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
See  »

Did You Know?


Kenneth Halliwell created the title "Prick Up Your Ears" for Orton's (never produced) film for the Beatles, "Up Against It", but Orton said, "But this is much too good a title to waste on a film." 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: Cheap clothes suit you. It's because you're from the gutter.
See more »


Referenced in Family Guy: Prick Up Your Ears (2006) See more »


Recognition Fanfare
Music by Ernest Bullock
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A Great Combination Between Alfred Molina and Gary Oldman
17 August 1999 | by (Leicester, England) – See all my reviews

Its films like these that make you wonder why stars like Gary Oldman(Immortal Beloved) and Alfred Molina(Boogie Nights) aren't noticed as much as the awful actors that plague our screens(see Mark Wahlberg or Ray Liotta).

Prick Up Your Ears is a wonderful film about the writer Joe Orton(Oldman) and his lover Kenneth(Molina). The dialogue is smart and the acting is incredible. Rating=4/5

In addition, I would just like to say that teenagers can enjoy decent films. I was twelve when I watched this, and I found it amazing. Its the film that sparked off my fascination with Gary Oldman films.

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

Message Boards

Recent Posts
*falls over* Scarlett_Avenger
Gary Oldman's Ass jrswing80
Joe Orton rahrare
Why No Kenneth Williams? scarlet1881
violence etc. bunglelivesinwoolpit
Why isn't this more of a cult film? Shilpot7
Discuss Prick Up Your Ears (1987) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: