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Oscar Wilde Reviews

For some strange reason two separate companies were filmming the story of Oscar Wilde's life at the same time. THE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE, a color film, starred Peter Finch as the famed Irish writer, while this black-and-white film, the better of the two productions, features Robert Morley in the title role. Morley is married to Calvert, but she stays mostly in the background as her husband meets and falls in love with Neville (making his movie debut), a young lord-about-town who hates his father, Chapman, the Marquis of Queensberry, the man who gave us the rules for boxing. When Chapman accuses Morley of being a "sodomite," Morley, already a legendary wit and successful playwright, sues the Marquis for libel. But when the case goes to trial Morley breaks down on the witness stand. Later, Morley is tried for gross indecency, leading to an extrordinarily well-acted clash of wits between Morely and Richardson, as the queen's counsel. Convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labor, Morley comes out of jail a broken man and dies in Paris. Morley was 52 when he made the picture, six years older than Wilde was at his death, but this age disparity doesn't effect Morley's brilliant performance one iota. Although the Finch starrer covered the exact same ground, it didn't have the fire of this effort, in which the courtroom scenes snap and crackle like a blazing fireplace.