The Importance Of Being Earnest

  • 1952
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy

Wilde's wittiest play took 57 years to make it to the screen but was well worth the wait. Director-writer Asquith made absolutely no attempt to "open up" this repertory standard in order to make it more cinematic. The film does of course benefit from close-ups and such, but Asquith goes so far as to have a couple enter a stage box and sit down before a...read more

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Wilde's wittiest play took 57 years to make it to the screen but was well worth the wait. Director-writer Asquith made absolutely no attempt to "open up" this repertory standard in order to make it more cinematic. The film does of course benefit from close-ups and such, but Asquith goes

so far as to have a couple enter a stage box and sit down before a curtain rises at the start. This is meant to be theater first and foremost, and it's a valuable record of a great performance. Stylish, sunny, and as nonsensical as any work can be (at least, on the surface), THE IMPORTANCE OF

BEING EARNEST takes well-aimed potshots at the social pretentions of the 1890s. The satire goes down like punch because the artful Wilde has cloaked it in badinage containing some of his best epigrams and bon mots. The decor and costumes are charmingly detailed, the perfect setting for this

hilarious jewel.

This comedy classic tells of Jack and Algy, two well-to-do bachelors (Redgrave and Dennison) enamored of two women (Greenwood and Tutin) who both have an incredible fixation about falling in love with men named Ernest. Of course neither man is "earnest" about his real name--not that Jack is sure

of his. Bring in dragon Lady Bracknell (Evans), a dizzy tutor (Rutherford) and an amorous reverend (Malleson) and the identity search is on. This marvelous cast makes each pearl of dialogue shine. Redgrave and Dennison are impossibly smooth, Tutin is delightfully pert and Greenwood uses her

inimitable voice and crisp acting style to delightful effect. The role of the anxious, garrulous Miss Prism is perfect for Rutherford and Malleson makes an ideal foil. Perhaps the best of them all is Edith Evans, in a role she made her own. "Do you smoke," she asks the nervous Jack. "Yes I do," he

tentatively responds. "Good," she notes, "a man should have an occupation of some sort." Best of all, though, is her legendary multi-octave reading of the simple line "Handbag?". It doesn't get much better than this.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Wilde's wittiest play took 57 years to make it to the screen but was well worth the wait. Director-writer Asquith made absolutely no attempt to "open up" this repertory standard in order to make it more cinematic. The film does of course benefit from close… (more)

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