Color and wide screen are a sock asset to The Trials of Oscar Wilde and, on balance, it has greater stellar appeal [than the b&w version, Oscar Wilde, released at virtually the same time].
Main difference in the two films is the color job starts where the scandalous friendship is well established and spends more time setting the atmosphere of the time of the turn of the century.
Trials [from John Furnald’s play The Stringed Lute and Montgomery Hyde’s book The Trials of Oscar Wilde] also introduces Wilde’s re-trial and, in one brilliant scene at Brighton, shows Wilde’s anguish when he first realizes that he is merely being used by his young friend as a weapon in his vindictive struggle with his brutal father.
Peter Finch gives a moving and subtle performance as the ill-starred playwright. Before his downfall he gives the man the charm that he undoubtedly had. The famous Wilde epigrams could well have been thought up by Finch.
John Fraser as handsome young Lord Alfred Douglas is suitably vain, selfish, vindictive and petulant and the relationship between the two is more understandable.
Where Trials suffers in comparison with the b&w film is in the remarkable impact of the libel case court sequence. James Mason never provides the strength and bitter logic necessary for the dramatic cut-and-thrust when Wilde is in the witness box.
The Trials of Oscar Wilde
Warwick. Director Ken Hughes; Producer Harold Huth; Screenplay Ken Hughes; Camera Ted Moore; Editor Geoffrey Foot; Music Ron Goodwin; Art Director Ken Adam
(Color) Widescreen. Extract of a review from 1960. Running time: 123 MIN.
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