7.4/10
4,612
27 user 26 critic

Prick Up Your Ears (1987)

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 »

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (based on the biography by)
Reviews

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... 

Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A fictionalized account of what may have happened when John Lennon and Brian Epstein went on holiday together to Spain in 1963.

Director: Christopher Munch
Stars: David Angus, Ian Hart, Stephanie Pack
Transfixed (2001)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

Bo is a transexual prostitute in Brussels who left home after being abused by her father. She's now in an abusive relationship with a neighbor and suspected by the police in a series of ... See full summary »

Director: Francis Girod
Stars: Richard Bohringer, Robinson Stévenin, Stéphane Metzger
Walang kawala (2008)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Joaquin (Polo Ravales), an unassuming fisherman, is forced to confront his homosexuality when his sex-starved wife Cynthia (Althea Vega) returns from her overseas job eager to get pregnant.... See full summary »

Director: Joel Lamangan
Stars: Polo Ravales, Joseph Bitangcol, Emilio Garcia
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Karl Foyle and Paul Prentice were best mates at school in the Seventies. But when they meet again in present-day London things are definitely not the same. Karl is now Kim, a transsexual, ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Spence
Stars: Steven Mackintosh, Rupert Graves, Miriam Margolyes
Princesa I (2001)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Fernando, a.k.a. Fernanda, a 19-year-old Brazilian transvestite, travels to Milan and becomes a prostitute to finance sex-change surgery. Fernanda dreams of becoming a "real" woman, but in ... See full summary »

Director: Henrique Goldman
Stars: Ingrid de Souza, Cesare Bocci, Lulu Pecorari
The Nomi Song (2004)
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Having failed to break into professional opera in his native Germany (where, as an usher in West Berlin's Deutsche Oper, he would serenade the staff after the 'real' performances were over)... See full summary »

Director: Andrew Horn
Stars: Klaus Nomi, Ann Magnuson, David Bowie
41 Seconds (2006)
Short | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

What do you do when your girlfriend tells you, your best friend kisses better than you? A young man decides to settle the matter once and for all.

Directors: Tobias Martin, Rodney Sewell
Stars: Alexander Kaffl, Amir Arul
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Khoi, a naive twenty-year-old, travels to Ho Chi Minh City from the countryside to begin a new life. It's his first time in the big city and he's looking for a place to live. He befriends ... See full summary »

Director: Ngoc Dang Vu
Stars: Manh Hai Luong, Vinh Khoa Ho, Linh Son Nguyen
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Alfie Byrne is a middle-aged bus conductor in Dublin in 1963. He would appear to live a life of quiet desperation: he's gay, but firmly closeted, and his sister is always trying to find him... See full summary »

Director: Suri Krishnamma
Stars: Albert Finney, Brenda Fricker, Michael Gambon
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A poignant romantic drama examines the life of gay 26 year old, ex-monk, school teacher living in Manhattan. When he meets a man at a gay bar, they connect and are soon living together. Unfortunately their views on monogamy don't match.

Director: Christopher Larkin
Stars: Robert McLane, Curt Gareth, Bo White
Jet Lag I (2011)
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A couple of gay men must break up due the impossibility of one of them to accept his homosexual condition. The farewell gets very difficult when the other one tries to convince him to accept himself and not to leave him.

Director: Sergio Tovar Velarde
Stars: Andrés Negrete, Enrique Villanueva
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Sebastien is a small town boy who moves to Paris and begins to explore the gay night life there. When a friend from back home calls to announce he's coming to Paris, Sebastien confronts some unrequited feelings.

Directors: Bernard Alapetite, Cyril Legann
Stars: Benoît Delière, Johnny Amaro, Thibault Boucaux
Edit

Cast

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
Edit

Storyline

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 <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They shared everything - except success.


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 May 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ciuliti-va urechile  »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,654,743 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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. But new pence weren't introduced until 1971. See more »

Quotes

Peggy Ramsay: At moments of triumph, men can do without their wives... But sharing is what wives want.
See more »

Connections

References Some Like It Hot (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

Dancing Hearts
Music by Stanley Myers
Lyrics by Richard Myhill
Arranged by Richard Myhill
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

An intimate, carefully crafted biopic with uniformly superb performances.
11 August 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I don't usually enjoy biopics, but PRICK UP YOUR EARS is a glorious exception. Many biopics don't have strong narrative arcs (simply because people's lives generally don't), but this one does -- primarily because it focuses on the rapid deterioration of the relationship between playwright Joe Orton and failed novelist Kenneth Halliwell. With the obvious exception of the horrific conclusion, the issues faced by these two London writers will probably ring painfully true for many members of the audience. Who hasn't felt like Halliwell at some point -- or even Orton, dealing with a Halliwell-esquire partner?

This is where PRICK UP YOUR EARS succeeds while so many other biopics fail: while it does not shy away from the sensationalistic aspects of Orton's life, it never neglects the complex relationship beating at the center of the narrative. I can safely say it's one of the rare cases where I found myself relating on a human level to the biographical subjects, instead of dryly watching them from afar.

Director Stephen Frears deserves kudos for his warm, understated approach. It's almost hard to praise his directing because it's so unobtrusive; but this is exactly his strong point. He is confident in the story's inherent power, so he wisely gets out of the way and lets it unfold naturally.

And he is helped marvelously by the uniformly great performances; there simply isn't a wrong note struck by the cast. Even supporting roles, like those of Orton's sister and brother-in-law, feel like real human beings. Of course, the real standouts are Oldman, Molina and Redgrave.

Though his physical appearance isn't dramatically altered, Gary Oldman still seems unrecognizable compared to his previous work; this is how strongly he becomes Orton. His carefree swagger is by turns charming and infuriating. You understand why Halliwell is both entranced and insanely frustrated with him. He also looks a little bit like Dana Carvey - just by the by.

Molina is no less astonishing. Bald at 25, frustrated, neurotic, sexually incapable... the character is a hulking mass of awkwardness, but somehow he evokes tremendous sympathy. You alternately want to hug this guy and shake him silly. (The scene in which Orton is informed of his mother's death is heartbreaking - for both men's reactions.)

Meanwhile, Redgrave is a delight. Her line readings are exquisite and she gives the movie a crisp cleverness without crossing the line into self-indulgence.

For all the tragic and uncomfortable elements of Orton and Halliwell's relationship, the movie still features some hilarious scenes. The cheeky title, Orton and Halliwell's divergent accounts of their lifestyle together, the conversation with Brian Epstein, and Halliwell's "we were having a conversation" gave the movie a gleeful edge of naughtiness -- one the viewer suspects was strongly inspired by Orton's own approach to life and work.

In short, I highly recommend this movie. Though its description may seem sensationalistic -- a gay man brutally murders his successful young lover -- PRICK UP YOUR EARS triumphs as both a simple human drama and as a biography in which its subjects are made more intimate rather than more remote.


36 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?