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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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(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:
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James Grant ...
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Janet Dale ...
Dave Atkins ...
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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>

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They shared everything - except success.


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R | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

8 May 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das stürmische Leben des Joe Orton  »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,654,743
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(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title is a naughty pun ("Prick" having both standard and off-color denotations and "Ears" being an anagram for the British spelling of a vulgar anatomical descriptor). 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

Kenneth Halliwell: I just want to go to the awards! I could! Look, "Joe Orton and guest." I'd behave. I wouldn't say a word, I promise.
Joe Orton: No.
Kenneth Halliwell: Why?
Joe Orton: Because it's for me. I wrote it.
Kenneth Halliwell: I gave you the title.
Joe Orton: Okay, so when they have awards for titles, you can go to that.
See more »


Soundtracks

By the Beautiful Sea
Written by Harry Carroll and Harold Atteridge
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User Reviews

 
Marvelous
20 September 2008 | by See all my reviews

I caught this on cable today. Had never noticed it before which is odd since I've actively tried to be aware of movies with a strong gay component for as long as I can remember. But, be that as it may this is one that somehow slipped past me until today. After watching it in awe I checked to see when it was made thinking that surely it was something made in the recent past few years, after 2000. Certainly, I thought, it must have come out during the "Queer as Folk" era which gave filmmakers permission to finally and honestly show parts of the gay world which, unless you're a part of that world, most of the rest of the world were relatively unaware of until somewhat recently as society has changed for the better in its well reasoned acceptance of gays. Yet, instead, I found that "Prick Up Your Ears" was released in 1987. I couldn't believe it. The movie was so well done. Not only did it portray something that was way ahead of its time with regards to portraying this type of subject matter, the movie itself is so modernly made. The way it was filmed and the actors and how they are acting, everything about this movie screams "I'm way ahead of my time"! And so it is. And what you find is a beautifully made movie about the effects that society's attitude towards gays in the 50's and 60's have upon two gay men, their union, and gays in general during that time. And the movie was made two decades ago, breaking ground in ways that only now that movie audiences have come to take for granted.

This is a marvelous movie, groundbreaking when it was made, about an author and the authors life-partner who were breaking new ground themselves in their day. Everything about this movie is worth seeing. The story presented, the acting, the sets, the locations. Everything. In fact, it reaches far enough into so many different things about writing and movie making and gays and society and relationships and life and death itself, and it does it so well, that one can reasonably say that if you're a student of film this is a movie that should belong on your list of movies to see and study along the way to making your own movies. And if you're a person who loves good movies, this is also required viewing. And if you're gay, well, it will thrill you to see this movie for so many reasons that only if you're gay would you really kind of understand. And if you're just somebody who wants to pass some time watching a minor cinema masterpiece that has stood the test of time, here is one for you to watch, enjoy and be educated by too. Its just a part of who we were. I miss poor Joe and Kenneth.


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