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An Ideal Husband (1999)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Romance | 30 June 1999 (USA)
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Sir Robert Chiltern is a successful Government minister, well-off and with a loving wife. All this is threatened when Mrs Cheveley appears in London with damning evidence of a past misdeed.... See full summary »



(play), (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 4 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Phipps
... Lord Arthur Goring
... Miss Mabel Chiltern
... Lady Gertrude Chiltern
... Tommy Trafford
... Countess
... Mrs. Laura Cheveley
... Lady Markby
Neville Phillips ... Mason
... Lord Caversham
... Sir Robert Chiltern
Nickolas Grace ... Vicomte de Nanjac
... Sir Edward
... Miss Danvers
... Lady Basildon


Sir Robert Chiltern is a successful Government minister, well-off and with a loving wife. All this is threatened when Mrs Cheveley appears in London with damning evidence of a past misdeed. Sir Robert turns for help to his friend Lord Goring, an apparently idle philanderer and the despair of his father. Goring knows the lady of old, and, for him, takes the whole thing pretty seriously. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He just doesn't know it yet.


Comedy | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief sensuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

30 June 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Un esposo ideal  »


Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£492,309 (United Kingdom), 18 April 1999, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$198,802, 18 June 1999

Gross USA:

$18,535,191, 3 October 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The first of three films based on works by Oscar Wilde directed by Oliver Parker. The other two are The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) and Dorian Gray (2009). See more »


The Speaker is shown calling MPs to speak by naming their constituency ("The Honourable Member for Witney" etc). British MPs do address each other in this way, but the Speaker calls MPs to speak by naming them personally. See more »


Laura: And so, my dear Arthur, are you not just a little bit pleased to see me?
Lord Arthur Goring: Oh, my dear woman, possibly even less than that.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits list Oliver Parker, the director, as playing "Bunbury", one of the gentlemen that is seen playing cards with Lord Goring in the Men's Club when Lord Chiltern arrives. Bunbury is also a never-seen character in "The Importance of Being Earnest", the play which is performed in the background of several scenes of this film. See more »


Version of Ein idealer Gatte (1958) See more »

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User Reviews

See it twice.
9 August 1999 | by See all my reviews

An Ideal Husband - ****

In 19th Century London, Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam,) is a successful member of parliament married to the virtuous, fabulously popular Lady Gertrud Chiltern (Cate Blanchett.) Sir Robert's sister Mabel (Minnie Driver) is infatuated with Sir Robert's friend, Lord Arthur Goring (Rupert Everett.) The dashing Lord Goring, the wealthy son of the Earl of Caversham, is an inveterate bachelor who lives a life of leisure. Into this already crowded picture drops Mrs. Laura Cheveley (Julianne Moore,) an Austrian socialite with two ex-husbands and a convoluted past. Not only was she briefly engaged to Lord Goring, but it seems that she possesses evidence that the noble Sir Robert once committed a terrible indiscretion. Mrs. Cheveley uses this explosive evidence in her attempt to blackmail Sir Robert into voting against his conscience on the floor of Parliament. What ensues is a fascinating examination of honor and idealism. We learn that the noble Sir Robert is less than perfect, while the rakish bachelor Lord Goring possesses a surprising level of honor and insight.

If Shakespeare in Love deserved an Oscar, this film deserves the Nobel Prize. It is simply outstanding in every respect. The first thing one notices is the dialogue. It is a bit stiff and stilted, as was the custom in London at the time, but it also possesses a razor sharp wit and sly sense of humor. Every last character speaks with intelligence and humor. The verbal fireworks, particularly as provided by Lord Goring, illuminate character and motivation while simultaneously producing guffaws from the audience. The plot structure is a marvel. There are no explosions, fireballs, or car chases, but the picture achieves a certain breathlessness simply through its intricate layering of multiple characters, all with intertwining motivations, interests, and connections with one another. A prime example of this is the scene in which poor Lord Goring receives multiple visitors at his home in a single night. All of the visitors have conflicts with one another, so Lord Goring must segregate them and move from room to room, listening to their problems and providing insights. The costumes and locations are all excellent. I particularly liked the manner in which Sir Robert's bright home is contrasted with Lord Goring's dark and cavernous bachelor pad. The one complaint I have is with the film's music; it seemed too light and frivolous, overplaying the "madcap shenanigans" element of the picture. But this is a minor quibble indeed.

The acting is first rate across the board. Jeremy Northam (yes, he could play James Bond) is well suited to the role of Sir Robert. He exudes intelligence, honor, and duty. Julianne Moore, as Mrs. Cheveley, seems to relish the conniving and scheming of her character. Cate Blanchett and Minnie Driver capably bring depth and intelligence to their limited roles. But the true star of the film is Rupert Everett as Lord Arthur Goring. Mr. Everett has had a promising career to this point, but An Ideal Husband is his breakout role. In this film he is witty, charming, caring, wise, devilish, and childish all at once. Lord Goring is the kind of man that makes women swoon and men flock around to hear funny stories. He reminded me of Cary Grant - only better. Someone give that man an Academy Award.

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