7.3/10
5,520
31 user 33 critic

Prick Up Your Ears (1987)

R | | Biography, Drama | 8 May 1987 (USA)
Biographer John Lahr is writing a book about playwright Joe Orton. Joe and Kenneth meet at drama school and live together for ten years as lovers and collaborators. Both want to be writers, but only one of them is successful.

Director:

Stephen Frears

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Oldman ... Joe Orton
Alfred Molina ... Kenneth Halliwell
Vanessa Redgrave ... Peggy Ramsay
Wallace Shawn ... John Lahr
Lindsay Duncan ... Anthea Lahr
Julie Walters ... Elsie Orton
James Grant James Grant ... William Orton
Frances Barber ... Leonie Orton
Janet Dale Janet Dale ... Mrs Sugden
Dave Atkins Dave Atkins ... Mr Sugden
Margaret Tyzack ... Madame Lambert
Eric Richard ... Education Officer
William Job William Job ... RADA Chairman
Rosalind Knight ... RADA Judge
Angus MacKay Angus MacKay ... RADA Judge

Gary Oldman Through the Years

Take a look back at Gary Oldman's movie career in photos.

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Storyline

This movie is the story of the spectacular life and violent death of British playwright Joe Orton (Gary Oldman). In his teens, Orton is befriended by the older, more reserved Kenneth Halliwell (Alfred Molina), 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 environments. 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.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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

Chauffeur: Can we break down this door?
Mrs. Sugden: [calling down the stairs] Clifford! Can we break down the door?
Mr Sugden: Certainly not! If there's damage to be done, call the police. That's their job.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Great Directors (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Zadok the Priest
(uncredited)
Music by George Frideric Handel
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User Reviews

 
Marvelous
20 September 2008 | by HoldenSparkSee 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 May 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Prick Up Your Ears See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$38,643, 19 April 1987

Gross USA:

$1,654,743

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,672,927
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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