This black-and-white version of the story of the poet-playwright-wit whose tragic downfall on homosexual charges was a scandal in Victorian times hit London screens just five days before The Trials of Oscar Wilde, a color job. It was produced swiftly but shows no signs of technical shoddiness, even though it was being edited up to a couple of hours before screening for the press.

This black-and-white version of the story of the poet-playwright-wit whose tragic downfall on homosexual charges was a scandal in Victorian times hit London screens just five days before The Trials of Oscar Wilde, a color job. It was produced swiftly but shows no signs of technical shoddiness, even though it was being edited up to a couple of hours before screening for the press.

Georges Perinal’s lensing is effective and the atmosphere of Victorian London, Paris and the court scenes has been faithfully caught. The literate screenplay draws heavily on both Wilde’s own epigrams and wisecracks but also on the actual documented evidence in the two celebrated court cases.

The picture starts unsatisfactorily but comes vividly to life when the court proceedings begin. The opening sequences are very sketchy and merely set the scene of Wilde as a celebrated playwright and his first meeting with the handsome father-hating young Lord Alfred Douglas, an association which was to prove his downfall.

Gregory Ratoff, as director, swiftly gets into his stride after the aforesaid uneasy start and, though the film is over-talky and over-stagey, it is a good and interesting job of work.

Robert Morley, who once made an effective stage Oscar Wilde, looks perhaps a little too old for the role but he gives a very shrewd performance, not only in the rich relish with which he delivers Wilde’s bon mots but also in the almost frighteningly pathetic way in which he crumbles and wilts in the dock.

Ralph Richardson is also in memorable form as the brilliant Queen’s Counsel, Sir Edward Carson, who mercilessly strips Wilde in court with his penetrating questions.

Oscar Wilde

UK

Production

Vantage. Director Gregory Ratoff; Producer William Kirby; Screenplay Jo Eisinger; Camera Georges Perinal; Editor Tony Gibbs; Music Kenneth V. Jones

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1960. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Robert Morley Phyllis Calvert John Neville Ralph Richardson Dennis Price Alexander Knox
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