At age 73, writer and melancholy master of the bon mot, Quentin Crisp (1908-1999), became an Englishman in New York. Rossiter's camera follows Crisp about the streets of Manhattan, where ... See full summary »
An elderly gentleman absconds from a nursing home by setting in motion events that veil his disappearance. He heads to the local pier, where an old companion awaits him, ready for their last great journey.
In addition to being a mainstay of the local lifeboat crew Norman has been the manager of the little pier theatre in his home seaside town for forty years ever since he was a youngster. In ... See full summary »
Roger Lloyd Pack,
Living in rural New South Wales, working-class single mother Rhia is struggling to evade debt collectors and raise three young daughters. The eldest, and hardened beyond her years, Lou ... See full summary »
Lily Bell Tindley,
Giles De'Ath is a widower who doesn't like anything modern. He goes to movies and falls in love with film star, Ronnie Bostock. He then investigates everything about the movie and Ronnie. ... See full summary »
The tragic death of the six-year-old Tine joins the fates for three families: The eight-year-old David meets as suspected offender in the psychiatry on the energetic physician Nora, who ... See full summary »
Anneke Kim Sarnau
In the mid-1960s, Joan, not long married to comic actor John Le Mesurier, meets and is mutually attracted to comedian Tony Hancock, married to the long-suffering Freddie. Hancock's most ... See full summary »
Following the success of his television biography 'The Naked Civil Servant' Quentin Crisp is invited to America to lecture on How To Be Happy, and falls in love with New York's more permissive ambiance. Agent Connie Clausen enables him to be a 'resident alien', writing film reviews and dispensing words of wisdom. Curious about but impervious to trends, he describes AIDS as a "fad, nothing more", actually to divert heterosexual anger but he is misinterpreted and reviled by many gays. A return to popularity occurs when he helps Patrick Angus, a young, AIDS-afflicted artist attain fame for his paintings and his healthy cynicism is marketed by performance artist Penny Arcade, putting him back in the limelight. Poor health causes him to refuse a lecture tour of England but he gives a triumphant final audience at a gay club in Tampa. A postscript informs that he died at the age of 91. Written by
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His extraordinary story, The Naked Civil Servant, which was broadcast last night has been described as the triumph of the resolute individual against the faceless multitude. He is Mr. Quentin Crisp.
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This film was definitely superior to the BBC's new "Day of the Triffids" adaptation (which was scheduled directly against it), but is not the dramatic equal of the original "Naked Civil Servant", with which it will inevitably be compared. I suspect the main cause of this is that the source material simply doesn't provide a lot of scope: when a story starts with its protagonist in his seventies and having finally gained acceptance and even celebrity, the time-span is inevitably somewhat short and there isn't a great deal more that can happen to him. Even in situations which could, and would, have been threatening to the younger Quentin Crisp, his elder statesman status effectively restricts the repercussions.
As a result, more or less the only 'plot event' of the film is the arrival of AIDS in New York, with even that seen largely through the effects on Crisp's career of a single dismissive quip (his reasoned attitude is that making too much of AIDS will only bolster public perception of homosexuals as disease-ridden outcasts, but this doesn't go down well among his target audience). Otherwise, "An Englishman in New York" consists largely of bons mots; little snippets of Crisp performing and delivering his famous lines, whether to an audience of one or to a small studio gathering.
That said, given the limitations of its material the film manages to pull off the difficult trick of its predecessor, presenting its deliberately flamboyant, over-the-top protagonist as a sympathetic human being whose pose we not only condone but find ourselves applauding. I generally shy away from 'gay issues', but find myself feeling here for the people he meets and the prejudice he encounters, both from them and on their behalf. In some ways, it is as hard to be a determinedly effeminate homosexual among the butch 'clones' of an out-of-the-closet New York as among the disapproving middle classes of pre-war England.
John Hurt does an excellent task in portraying the physical aging of the character, and of course it is a great bonus to have the same actor appearing in both films with a genuine generational time-lapse between them. It is just a truism that -- despite Quentin Crisp's much-repeated prediction that every year "things are going to get worse" -- happiness, as the proverb has it, simply doesn't make for such an enthralling story as do troubled times; and this is essentially a depiction of a man who has finally come to terms with the world, and it with him. As such it is well-meaning and pretty well executed, but not a particularly unmissable experience.
And inevitably it is less touching and less striking than its predecessor.
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