7.4/10
4,791
28 user 30 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 »

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Writers:

(screenplay), (based on the biography by)
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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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
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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:

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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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The interior (certainly not the exterior as the real house is mid-terraced) of Joe and Ken's flat was filmed in the actual flat where Orton and Halliwell lived (25 Noel Road). However, the murder at the end is filmed on a studio set. 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. 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 »

Quotes

Peggy Ramsay: Ken was the first wife. He did all the work and the waiting and then...
John Lahr: Well, first wives don't usually beat their husbands' heads in.
Peggy Ramsay: No. Though why I can't think.
John Lahr: So what does that make you? The second wife?
Peggy Ramsay: Better than that, dear. The widow.
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Soundtracks

Vivat Regina
(uncredited)
Music by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry
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User Reviews

Painful Proclivities Probed- "DO YOU READ MY DIARIES?"
13 June 2004 | by (LONDON) – See all my reviews

A TRUE STORY SET IN SIXTIES ISLINGTON

BASED ON THE Joe Orton Diaries

This cleverly edited Comedy Drama/Bio of JOE (Loot) ORTON concentrates mainly on his plethora of talents - both lyrical and libidinal.

A very touching film that has the ability by default to amuse and excite the gay/bi-curious audience.

Perhaps, never before has a film broadened the understanding of the term "COTTAGE" and "TEA ROOM" - and when the anagram of "EARS" finally did the rounds after the film's release, and the 'man on the street' realised what was being 'pricked' - it gave a better preparation and understanding of what to expect from the film if you didn't fully relate to the lifestyle.

If you were new to Joe Orton territory or to the maverick (then illegal) gay life style of the sixties... then this film does the era justice.

Maybe the excessive casual gay sex that takes place immediately after 'a' funeral, and in a cottage after an awards night may give insight into the stereotypical gay deviant that gay men have been trying to get away from for so long; however the environs and situations in which it takes place lends more understanding to behaviour in given environments today.

Strangely, I feel that Joe DOES show commitment to Kenneth - in a deeply hidden nostalgic way, but is unprepared to compromise his ego to share a sexual encounter towards the mid-end of their relationship.

The film concentrates heavily on the slow and painful draining of Kennith Haliwell's state of mind as Joe's promiscuity becomes synonymous with his success.

This will have you laughing and giggling one minute, then suddenly draw you into the dark and macabre reality of the love-hate relationship between Joe and Kenneth . . . POSSIBLE SPOILER ...

Joe's ability to emotionally detach drives Kenneth to provide us with an utterly gruesome, bloody and violent ending.

(I particularly wanted to make a contribution, as at the time I was in such a relationship, and we even did the 'going on holiday' bit, when it all fell apart... my partner at the time was a "Joe" driven character and I was certainly Kenneth ... gladly circumstances separated us before we enacted the end part of the film!)

In memory to Jonathan ... if u ever read this - I'm Real Sorry)


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