7.2/10
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Stage Beauty (2004)

R | | Drama | 29 October 2004 (USA)
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A female theatre dresser creates a stir and sparks a revolution in seventeenth century London theatre by playing Desdemona in Othello. But what will become of the male actor she once worked for and eventually replaced?

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(play), (screenplay)
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Stage Manager
Mark Letheren ...
Male Emilia / Dickie
...
...
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Thomas Betterton
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George Villiers II - Duke of Buckingham
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Jack Kempton ...
Call Boy
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Miss Frayne
...
Lady Meresvale
...
Harry
Nick Barber ...
Nick
...
Thomas Cockerell
...
...
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Storyline

Based in the 1660's of London's theaters, this film is about the rules of gender roles in theatre production, and means to change them for everyone's benefit. Ned Kynaston is the assumedly gay cross-dressing actor who has been playing female parts in plays for years, particularly Desdemona in Othello, he also has a close relationship with a member of the Royal Court, the Duke of Buckingham. One day however, the rules of only men playing women could change when aspiring actress Maria auditions as Kynaston's praised role, Desdemona, and soon enough, King Charles II decides to make the law that all female roles should be played only by women. Maria becomes a star, while Ned finds himself out of work. But after a while, Ned finds it in his nature to forgive Maria's aspiration, they may even fall in love, and Charles may proclaim women will be played by either gender. Written by Jackson Booth-Millard

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Taglines:

She was the first of her kind. He was the last of his.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content and language | See all certifications »
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Details

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| |

Language:

Release Date:

29 October 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Belleza prohibida  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£128,035 (UK) (3 September 2004)

Gross:

$776,691 (USA) (26 November 2004)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie is set sometime between 1660 and 1662, but the style of dress the men are wearing wouldn't be worn until 1666. That is when Charles II introduced the 3 piece suit (coat, vest & britches) to the court. The fashion caught on rapidly. Within weeks all the men of court were wearing suits. Even Samuel Pepys began to wear a 3 piece suit with a few months. This was also the time when men began to wear something tied around their necks. This combination of coat, vest, britches and neck-wear has been worn by men in some variation ever since. See more »

Goofs

When Kynaston says, "I blame you for my death," he looks up at Maria, but in the next shot his head is back down. See more »

Quotes

Maria: Why won't you play men?
Ned Kynaston: Men aren't beautiful. What they do isn't beautiful either. Women do everything beautifully, especially when they die. Men feel far too much. *Feeling* ruins the effect. Feeling makes it ugly.
[Maria rolls her eyes]
Ned Kynaston: Perhaps that's why I could never pull off the death scene. I- could never feel it in a way that wouldn't mar the-
[pause]
Ned Kynaston: I couldn't let the beauty die. Without beauty there's nothing. Who could love that?
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Connections

Referenced in The Daily Show: Billy Crudup (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
English thespians
23 October 2004 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

This movie has the blessing of the flawless direction of Richard Eyre, who knows a lot about kings and queens. The screen play is adapted by the author of the play, Jeffrey Hatcher. Surprisingly, these two men have been able to create a film that is not only visually satisfying, but it also is an adult entertainment.

This movie gives us a glimpse of how theatre functioned in England up to the times of Charles II. The female roles of all plays were portrayed by male actors. The school of acting in that era was an artificial one where actors relied in gestures and affectations that would be laughable today in a serious drama, but that was the way it was the accepted Method then, nothing to do with Stanivslaski, or Strassberg.

The leading figure of that theatrical world was Ned Keynaston, who was the most famous Desdemona of his time. There must have been a lot of gay men that were attracted to that world, as was the case with Mr. Keynaston, who might have been bisexual, although that comes as a secondary subplot. This actor is greatly admired by all, including the dressing assistant, Maria. This girl loved to be in the theatre, but could not, because only men were allowed. So instead, she goes to a second rate company that puts on plays in a pub and emerges as Margaret Hughes, an actress in her own right who will challenge Keynaston's Desdemona and makes that role, her signature role as well.

Claire Danes, as Maria, or Margaret Hughes, has never been better! She shines as the girl whose ambition is to be on stage. She is wonderful in the part. Ned, played with gusto by Billy Crudup, shows an unexpected range, although he has done theatre extensively. Both of these actors takes us back to London and make us believe that what we are watching.

A glorious English cast behind the two American principals are gathered to play effortlessly the theatrical figures of the time, and also the King and his court. Ruper Everett, as King Charles II, is hilarious. The scene in which he plays in drag with his mistress, Nell Gwynn, is one of the best things of the movie. Also, Richard Griffith, as lecherous Sir Charles Sedley, gives a stellar performance. Ben Chaplin, as the Duke of Buckingham, reveals the ambiguity of the men that were attracted to those early thespians.

Thoroughly enjoyable because of Richard Eyre's direction and eye for detail.


45 of 56 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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'That new ending' hazeleyes422
So....do you think Ned loves Maria in the movie? instyleprincess
One liner that made me have a laughing fit rdswords
The breast is NOT the disturbing part! Mumiemonstret
Crudup is a knockout!!!!!Best Actor Nod for sure lrpulini
problem with the death scene rsh437
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