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Salome's Last Dance (1988)

Guy Fawkes Day, 1892. Oscar Wilde goes to a performance of his controversial, banned play 'Salome'. The 'theatre's a brothel and the performers... prostitutes.


Ken Russell


Oscar Wilde (play), Vivian Russell (translation) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Glenda Jackson ... Herodias / Lady Alice
Stratford Johns ... Herod / Alfred Taylor
Nickolas Grace ... Oscar Wilde
Douglas Hodge ... John the Baptist / Lord Alfred 'Bosey' Douglas
Imogen Millais-Scott Imogen Millais-Scott ... Salome / Rose
Denis Lill ... Tigellenus / Chilvers
Russell Lee Nash Russell Lee Nash ... Pageboy
Ken Russell ... Cappadocian / Kenneth (as Alfred Russell)
David Doyle ... A. Nubin
Warren Saire Warren Saire ... Young Syrian
Kenny Ireland ... 1st Soldier
Michael Van Wijk ... 2nd Soldier
Paul Clayton Paul Clayton ... 1st Nazarean
Imogen Claire Imogen Claire ... 2nd Nazarean
Tim Potter ... Pharisee


Oscar Wilde goes to a performance of his controversial, banned play 'Salome, on Guy Fawkes day, 1892. A bordello's the theatre and the performers are prostitutes.Lord Alfred (Bosie) Douglas. who's Wilde's lover is John the Baptist. Soon, Wilde's interactions with some of the cast ignite Bosie's jealousy. Written by grantss

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R | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


Ken Russell: a stagehand. See more »


John the Baptist: Don't be tempted to worship the golden calf or you'll suffer my wrath.
Oscar Wilde: No sermons, please, Bosey. I'm not in the mood for the missionary position just now.
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Featured in A British Picture (1989) See more »


from "Escales"
Music by Jacques Ibert
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User Reviews

Vastly superior to the better known Opera.
3 July 2003 | by bbhlthphSee all my reviews

Oscar Wilde, who wrote the stage play "Salome", was one of the greatest wits of his time, but lived a lifestyle that created continuous controversy in the society in which he lived. Today he is perhaps best known for authorship of "The Ballard of Reading Jail", which was written during one of the times when he was in prison following a direct confrontation with the government of the time. When he wrote "Salome" it was banned for a time by the English stage censorship and, even though it can be a most rewarding performance to watch, stage productions of it are still relatively infrequent. Consequently many people today are more familiar with the bowdlerised opera which was based on the play and was composed by Richard Strauss. The opera has been filmed by at least two major directors, but for the cinematographic enthusiast there is also this very noteworthy film, directed by Ken Russell, which is much more closely based on Wilde's play. In my opinion this film is dramatically far superior to the rather pathetic opera, and is very worth while seeking out by anyone interested. Basically it exploits the psychological tensions which may have existed in King Herod's court, and which could have accounted for the demand by Salome for the head of John the Baptist on a platter; the story that is so baldly reported in the Bible.

The scenario of this film is set in a brothel where Oscar Wilde is treated to an illegal birthday performance of his play, acted by friends who include some of the employees of the host establishment. This choice of venue has upset many critics but it is totally irrelevant to the play - it is helpful for a modern viewer to remember that, at the time in which this film is set, Oscar Wilde and his literary friends would meet regularly to present impromptu performances of works they had written, basically as a quality control procedure for the final product they eventually published; and this film simply exploits the practice. It is essentially a film of a play, with the story associated with the presentation of the play added to maintain cinematographic interest.

Ken Russell is a controversial director but although the film is not without faults, the overall quality is outstanding, the cast is superb, and there are particularly memorable performances by Glenda Jackson as Queen Herodias and by Imogen Millais-Scott (who shows the capability of looking any age between thirteen and thirty) as Princess Salome. Both the play and the film effectively capture the decadence, which was characteristic of the royal courts of petty despots at this point in history, better than any other works I have seen. It should be a must for anyone who has the opportunity to see it.

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Release Date:

June 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Salome's Last Dance See more »


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Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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