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Scandal (1989)

 -  Drama | History  -  28 April 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 3,141 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 16 critic

An English bon-vivant osteopath is enchanted with a young exotic dancer and invites her to live with him. He serves as friend and mentor, and through his contacts and parties she and her ... See full summary »


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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Christine Keeler (as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer)
Mandy Rice-Davies
John Profumo
Lord Astor (Bill)
Mariella Novotny
Daniel Massey ...
Johnnie Edgecombe
Jean Alexander ...
Mrs. Keeler
Detective Inspector
Ronald Fraser ...
Justice Marshall
John, Detective Sgt.
Eugene Ivanov (as Jeroen Krabbe)
Kevin, Reporter Sunday Pictorial
Paul Mann


An English bon-vivant osteopath is enchanted with a young exotic dancer and invites her to live with him. He serves as friend and mentor, and through his contacts and parties she and her friend meet and date members of the Conservative Party. Eventually a scandal occurs when her affair with the Minister of War goes public, threatening their lifestyles and their freedom. Based on the real Profumo scandal of 1963. Written by Ed Sutton <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It Would Be A Scandal To Miss It See more »


Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, and for language | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 April 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Scandal  »

Box Office


$8,800,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film narrowly escaped an X rating in the U.S. because of some questionable footage during the Cliveden House orgy sequence. Under closer scrutiny it was determined that a couple of extras were engaged in actual copulation on a piano in one of the background scenes. Even though they were not captured in sharp focus, the scene had to be trimmed for all general releases to avoid the restrictive rating, which BBFC censor James Ferman accomplished by defusing the light from a table-lamp in the foreground. The inquisitive-minded will find this sequence at approximately 49 minutes and 5 seconds into the movie. See more »


When Mandy Rice Davies and Christine Keeler are walking in the early morning alongside the river Thames, there is a modern 1980s coach crossing the bridge in the background. See more »


[Mandy is being cross-examined in court]
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Are you aware that Lord Astor has denied impropriety in his relationship with you?
Mandy Rice-Davies: [smiles] Well, he would, wouldn't he?
[crowd in gallery roars with laughter]
See more »


Referenced in To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995) See more »


Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer
by Nat 'King' Cole
Music by Hans Carste (uncredited)
Lyrics by Charles Tobias (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

The Scandal That Brought Down The British Government
28 February 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

More then thirty years before Monica Lewinsky nearly destroyed Bill Clinton's presidency, Christine Keeler brought down the sitting British government. Her affair with then Minister Of War John Profumo, the scandal that followed and the effect it had on those involved is the subject of Michael Caton-Jones' 1989 film Scandal. Caton-Jones, with the help of a first rate cast and script, brings to life the scandal that brought down the British government.

The film's cast is fantastic to say the least. Leading it is John Hurt as Osteopath/Playboy Stephen Ward and Joanne Whalley as the infamous Christine Keeler. Both are well cast, Whalley being a very good physical match for Keeler especially, and both give what seem to be honest performances as people who find themselves going from the time of the their lives to the worst moments of it. Right behind them are Bridget Fonda and Ian McKellen as the other two major players in the scandal: Mandy Rice-Davies and John Profumo respectively. The supporting cast includes Jeroen Krabbe as Soviet naval attaché Eugene Ivanov, Jean Alexander as Keeler's mother, Leslie Phillips as Bill aka Lord Astor and James Villiers as an MP. The cast is fantastic and helps to sell the realistic recreation of the scandal.

The realism is also helped by the production values as well. The production design of Simon Holland and the costumes of Jane Robinson bring to life the late 1950s-early 1960s world of the film from lurid clubs to country estates and the halls of government. Mike Molloy's cinematography is key to much of the film as it often gives the viewer a feeling of being a fly on the wall of the events taking place. There are moments also where it gives the viewer a feeling of what it must have been like as the scandal grows and the world closes around some of the characters. Angus Newton's editing helps that as well even though the film itself seems to be just a bit too long. All of this, under the superb direction of Caton-Jones makes the film's recreation of this world seemingly complete.

That wouldn't the case though without the script. Drawing from a number of different sources listed towards the end of the film's end credits, Scandal traces the journey from 1959 to 1963 as what starts out as Ward's attempt to introduce the beautiful, young Keeler to his friends in high places leads to a scandal that destroys the sitting British government. The script by Michael Thomas is more then just a simple accounting of the scandal though. It is a study of the different people involved in it and how, by accident more then design, then found themselves caught up in it. Scandal takes the viewer into a world of sex, booze and above all else hypocrisy. This is no better illustrated then in a scene early in the film where a group (including Ward and Keeler) are in a nightclub, surrounded by scantily clad women, celebrating the victory of the Conservative government in the 1959 UK general election. The result is an eye opening journey into the human side of an infamous political scandal.

From its first rate cast, production values, direction and script Scandal is a fine example of history being brought to life on film. It is a journey into a world of sex, booze and hypocrisy that bred an infamous scandal that brought down a sitting British government almost fifty years ago. It is also a journey into the human cost of that scandal told in a way that is haunting, realistic and perhaps even truthful as well.

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