At the height of his fame, Oscar Wilde angers the Marquis of Queensberry by having what is (correctly) believed to be a romantic relationship with Queensberry's son Lord Alfred Douglas ("...
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At the height of his fame, Oscar Wilde angers the Marquis of Queensberry by having what is (correctly) believed to be a romantic relationship with Queensberry's son Lord Alfred Douglas ("Bosie"), who is twenty years Wilde's junior. When Queensberry slanders Wilde, the artist decides to take the matter to court and brings about his own downfall.Written by
Gary Dickerson <email@example.com>
As the film was being made against the clock in order to beat Oscar Wilde (1960) to cinemas, most scenes had to be filmed in one take. However, after the first take of the scene where the Marquis of Queensberry (Lionel Jeffries) strikes his son, Lord Alfred Douglas (John Fraser), Fraser felt his reaction lacked the required passion. He asked director Ken Hughes for another take, which Hughes agreed to, with some reluctance. As the shot of Fraser's reaction was being set up again, Jeffries asked Fraser if he should hit Fraser for real. After a moment of hesitation, Fraser agreed, and Jeffries smacked him with full force, with Fraser's stunned reaction to the slap perfectly captured on screen. See more »
The card that Queensberry actually said Oscar Wilde posing sodomite and not posing as a sodomite whilst we don't actually know why Queensberry miss pelt the word sodomite by adding an extra M( possibly inner anger at Wilde,s affair with Queensberry,s son made him loose concentration), but it is clear that Wilde was being accused of being gay and not posing as a gay man. See more »
[the Marquis of Queensbury hands an insulting bouquet of vegetables to Oscar Wilde]
How charming. Every time I smell them I shall think of you, Lord Queensbury.
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Opening credits prologue: LONDON in the 1890's See more »
The relationship between Oscar Wilde and Bosie, has already developed and is in full flow when this film begins, so we are almost immediately immersed into the war of hate between Bosie and his homophobic and severely disapproving father. Bosie's father appears to disapprove of his son merely because of his son's lack of manliness, and despises Oscar Wilde because of what he perceives as Wilde's role in perverting his son. But the resentment is also clearly due to the fact that Bosie's father just cannot connect with his son on any level (well portrayed in this film) and it is Wilde that appears to steel that genuine place in Bosie's heart. This just eats away at Bosie's father, and so he attempts to destroy the relationship between Bosie & Wilde in any way he can. But the more he tries, the more he pushes his son away, into the arms of Wilde.
Peter Finch plays Oscar Wilde admirably and he convinced me that this could have been the real Oscar Wilde. John Fraser plays Bosie acceptably - although i think it's his clean 'nice boy' looks that help him pull this role off more than his acting talent. Bosie's father, the Marquis of Queensbury is played by Lionel Jeffreys and he displays the cantankerous side of the character well. The courtroom scenes could have been tenser, and i dont think James Mason (as one of the barristers) delivers his lines with quite the same passion of some barristers I've seen. It is in one of the courtroom scenes, that quite apart from his relationship with Bosie, the true extent of Wilde's promiscuity with regard to young men is exposed, which was the one point for me in the film that I felt slight disgust at Wilde, although his promiscuity still didn't justify in my opinion what then happened to him. I'm just glad that society has become more tolerant nowadays, in some parts of the world.
The film is approximately two hours long, is packed with Oscar Wilde witty one liners, which made the film very funny at times. On second viewing, the film was even more enjoyable. Shot in 1960, I watched it for the first time here in the UK on Monday 7th Jan 2002 on Channel 4 who played it as an afternoon matinee, and the quality of the copy they played was superb - crystal clear. All in all, the film was a joy to watch.
I would highly recommend it, as it illustrates the relative intolerance of the times in England at that time. There are no sensual scenes in the film, so its 'safe' to watch for everyone. I say this because I know that a friend of mine recently stopped watching the latest Oscar Wilde film (with Stephen Fry, released 1997) as soon as he realised that it contained some male nudity & stuff, which he said he was personally uncomfortable with. And the 1960 film doesn't lose anything for not having any sexual stuff in it, believe me. Please watch it, if you get the chance.
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