6.5/10
4,614
33 user 20 critic

Scandal (1989)

Based on the Profumo Scandal of 1963, an affair between an exotic dancer and the Minister of War shakes up the British government.

Writer:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Hurt ... Stephen Ward
Joanne Whalley ... Christine Keeler (as Joanne Whalley-Kilmer)
Bridget Fonda ... Mandy Rice-Davies
Ian McKellen ... John Profumo
Leslie Phillips ... Lord Astor (Bill)
Britt Ekland ... Mariella Novotny
Daniel Massey ... Mervyn Griffith-Jones
Roland Gift ... Johnnie Edgecombe
Jean Alexander ... Mrs. Keeler
Alex Norton ... Detective Inspector
Ronald Fraser ... Justice Marshall
Paul Brooke ... John, Detective Sgt.
Jeroen Krabbé ... Eugene Ivanov (as Jeroen Krabbe)
Keith Allen ... Kevin, Reporter Sunday Pictorial
Ralph Brown ... Paul Mann
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Storyline

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 <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Story That Seduced The World Is Now The Most Controversial Film Of The Year. See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It has been alleged that many British actors and actresses turned down roles in the movie because the subject could have cost them knighthoods and other honors. However, Sir Ian McKellen, already a CBE, was knighted in 1991, two years after this movie was made, and became a Companion of Honour in 2008. Leslie Phillips was awarded the OBE in 1998 and promoted to a CBE in 2008, while Sir John Hurt was awarded a CBE in 2004 and knighted in 2015. See more »

Goofs

When Christine arrives at Heathrow from Spain after the scandal breaks, a modern illuminated sign is in the background as she walks from the gate. See more »

Quotes

Christine Keeler: You took me down there. It was you who wanted to go snooping around Westborne Grove at 1 o'clock in the morning. I never wanted to go; you made me. I'd never have met Lucky if it wasn't for you. I'd never have met Johnny, I'd never have met any of those people. It was all your idea.
Stephen Ward: You go too far.
Christine Keeler: You devil, you said. Never say not to a dare, you said. You took me to all the parties, you introduced me to everybody I know. I'm yours, Stephen. You pull the strings. I'm what you made me.
Stephen Ward: I'll drop ...
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

Upon its original UK release, the chief censor at the BBFC claimed to be able to see a couple in the background of an orgy scene who were actually having sex on top of a piano. Although the footage was not clear enough to confirm this, the scene had to be optically blurred to cover up the offending genitalia! See more »

Connections

Featured in Scala (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

I Remember You
by Frank Ifield
Music by Victor Schertzinger
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
See more »

User Reviews

Surprising and moving
18 October 2005 | by LewisJForceSee all my reviews

I saw this for the first time last night on Channel 4. I've never sought out the film before because I assumed that it would be an uninvolved telling of an uninteresting piece of British history. I was wrong.

The piece works on several levels, as they say. First, the period evocation is excellent. I became interested in this era after reading an interesting book on slum landlord Peter Rachmann a few years back (he is a minor character here). Christine Keeler was a figure who inhabited both the pot and ska parties of London's impoverished immigrant community and the bedrooms of the most powerful men in the land, and this breadth and contrast gives the film sufficient scope to successfully capture the energy and feel of the time.

Second, the handling of character development is exemplary. The film surprises you by gradually shading in the relationship between Keeler and Stephen Ward, until their completely believable 'love affair' becomes the focus in the moving finale. Joanne Whalley and John Hurt are both exceptional as Keeler and Ward, turning in subtle and detailed performances. These characters are contradictory and ambiguous, the kind of complex human beings who could quite easily be reduced to type by lesser actors.

Third, the film is made with real heart and intelligence. It is sympathetic to its characters and it strives to understand them, and thus help us to understand them. The director, Michael Caton-Jones frames and cuts with brilliant understatement, making potent and witty use of contemporary music throughout. I really didn't expect the seamless technique and low-key accretion of detail employed here, and it kept me fascinated.

The tone of the picture is just right. A kind of compassionate sadness. We come to feel the real injustice of the moral and social hypocrisy bought to bear without being assaulted by it, and as noted before, the ending is powerful and affecting. It would appear that tabloid scumbags were as pernicious an influence then as they are now, and the observations thereon are as relevant as ever.

If I had to find fault with the film, it would be this: Ian McKellen models perhaps the least convincing bald pate in the history of cinema as John Profumo. So much so, that, for me, it impacts negatively on his otherwise notable performance. Its a minor flaw all told.

I was surprised. I was impressed. I was moved. If you happen upon the film, sit down and watch it. You will be rewarded.


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

Polish | English

Release Date:

28 April 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Scandal See more »

Filming Locations:

UK See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$658,660, 30 April 1989

Gross USA:

$8,800,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,800,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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