Following the success of his television biography The Naked Civil Servant (1975), Quentin Crisp (Sir John Hurt) is invited to America to lecture on How To Be Happy, and falls in love with New York City's more permissive ambiance. Agent Connie Clausen (Swoosie Kurtz) enables him to be a "resident alien", writing movie reviews and dispensing words of wisdom. Curious about but impervious to trends, he describes A.I.D.S. 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 (Jonathan Tucker), a young, A.I.D.S.-afflicted artist attain fame for his paintings and his healthy cynicism is marketed by performance artist Penny Arcade (Cynthia Nixon), 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 ninety-one.Written by
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Sir John Hurt also played this character in the television movie The Naked Civil Servant (1975). Quentin Crisp said of Sir John Hurt, that he was his representative here on Earth. See more »
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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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Saw this film at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC and was deeply impressed. A loving, yet honest, look at Quentin Crisp in his later years in New York. John Hurt just IS Quentin Crisp in this role. It's amazing how accustomed we can be to bad acting as a norm until you see a performance like this and are suddenly reminded of how it's really done. Supporting cast is equally effective (how can they not be when you've got Cynthia Nixon and Swoosie Kurtz) with a massive standout being Denis O'Hare. Beautiful understated effective performance. More than simply biographical, it offers many social subjects for consideration in context - queer-on-queer prejudice, appropriate responses to AIDS in the 1980's, and much much more. It's a really good film, and well worth seeking out for just the acting alone. John Hurt is just perfect.
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