The Importance of Being Earnest Poster

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

Comedy     
IMDB Rayting:   7.6/10
Country: UK
Language: English

When Algernon discovers that his friend, Ernest, has created a fictional brother for whenever he needs a reason to escape dull country life, Algernon poses as the brother, resulting in ever increasing confusion.

Support Subtitles:
WatchList

Movie Trailer

User Reviews

jotix100 20 April 2006

Oscar Wilde's language is exquisitely spoken by the English cast that made, what should be considered, the definitive version of the play. The most important thing is the poetry all these actors were able to bring to the film, which reflects a bygone era; it is music to one's ears.

Anthony Asquith directed and adapted the play in ways that it never feels it's filmed theater. The director achieves a coup in casting Dame Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell, in one of her best appearances on the screen. Her Augusta is just what one expects a Victorian English lady to be like. Although Ms. Evans is not on screen all the time, she completely dominates the action. Even if one knows Ms. Evans is giving an exaggerated portrait of a society lady, she is delightful to watch as one stays riveted to her movements, facial expressions in making this woman come alive for us.

Michael Redgrave and Michael Denison, two dashing young actors, at the time, are a joy to see. The fastidious Jack, and his friend, Algenon, have excellent opportunities in which to shine. The same goes for the two female leads, Joan Greenwood and Dorothy Tutin, are perfectly cast as Gwendoline and Cecily, the love interests of Jack and Algenon. The redoubtable Margaret Rutherford is seen as Miss Prism, who is the key to solving the mystery in the plot.

"The Importance of Being Earnest" is a classic that was made at the legendary Pinewood studios and it shows the British cinema at its best.

rsose 11 February 2005

This is a tremendous movie based on a tremendous play. Oscar Wilde, despite his personal quirks, or maybe because of them, was a master of wit and language. When he wished to be serious, his works are also well written.

This movie, and others based upon his works (The Picture of Dorian Gray, etc.) are all masterpieces of art.

The Importance of being Earnest has been remade successfully, the dialog cannot be better. The situation, while complicated, is hysterical, and everything fits into place, especially at the end. In the 1952 version the play by Wilde was well adapted by writer/director Anthony Asquith. The portrayals of all the case, of Redgrave, as Redgrave as Jack, of Evans as Lady Bracknell, even that of Malleson as Canon Chasuble are sparkling, and the movie could not have been more enjoyable.

Recent remakes of Wilde's movies, including that of The Importance of Being Earnest, are well done. This original movie, however, should be seen by anyone appreciating comedy, and want to watch a great film.

didi-5 16 April 2004

Oscar Wilde's most famous play is given an extremely stage-bound reading in this colour adaptation by Anthony Asquith. It evens starts and ends with the raising and lowering of a theatre curtain!

That aside this is probably the essential Wilde movie – not only do we get the main four role perfectly cast (Michael Redgrave as Jack, Michael Denison as Algy, Dorothy Tutin as Cecily, Joan Greenwood as Gwendolen), we also have two of the most delightfully eccentric portrayals in the history of cinema with Margaret Rutherford as Miss Prism, and, of course, Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell. Who could resist the way Dame Edith says ‘a handbag!'

A hugely enjoyable movie which makes sure none of the wit is lost in unnecessary padding or setting – something the makers of the recent remake could learn from.

DeeNine-2 20 February 2001

Oscar Wilde's celebrated masterpiece is a comedy on three levels. First there is the denotative level, one might say, the level in which the bourgeois are entertained après dîner. It is on this level that Oscar Wilde follows the great theatrical tradition of comedy from the time of the Greeks through Shakespeare and French farce into the twentieth century to the musical comedy of the London and New York stage. His play on this level is a comedy of manners, pleasant, charming and very clever. The class conscious jokes about the lower orders and the servants are double-edged and add just a touch of squirm to the laughter of the not completely discerning audience. It is on the second level that The Importance of Being Earnest becomes one of the greatest plays ever written. On this level, the comedy is a full blown satire of Victorian society, and in particular of its audience. Wilde had the very great pleasure of flattering and making fun of the audience while being applauded for doing so. His subtitle for the play, "A Trivial Comedy for Serious People" is an allusion to these two levels. It is on this second level that Wilde speaks through the voice of Lady Bracknell (and sometimes Algernon), whose ironic and unself-conscious cynicism is so like his own. It is on this level that all the fun is made of the hypocrisy of marriage and its mercenary nature, at least as practiced by the petite bourgeoisie of London town, circa 1895. But there is a third level, a level known of course to the cognoscenti of the time and to modern audiences, but for the most part never dreamed of by the London theater-goers of the day. In this regard I have recently read that "Earnest" was a slang euphemism for being gay, and I suspect this is true. Indeed, I can imagine a whole world of witticism based on being "earnest" and being "Ernest," a world now (perhaps charitably) forgotten. Certainly this knowledge sheds some light on Jack's invention of his invalid friend "Bunbury," whom he finds he must visit to escape unwanted social engagements.

One of the best things about this great play is one can appreciate it on any one of the three levels and find delight on that level alone. One can see Worthy as John Worthy, or as Jack Worthy, or as Ernest Worthy, however one likes. This adaptation, starring the incomparable Dame Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell, and Michael Redgrave (father of Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave) as John Worthy is of course the justly celebrated, clearly definitive screen adaptation. It should be noted, however, that Lady Bracknell is the real star of the show, and when she enters a scene, she steals it. Edith Evans was brilliant and unforgettable and obviously having a wonderful time. Margaret Rutherford is a scream as Miss Prism and Miles Malleson as Chasuble is just, shall I say, darling. I should note that both the male leads were a touch too old for their parts. Redgrave was 42 and Michael Denison, who played Algernon, was 37 when the movie was released in 1952. Yet I think Oscar Wilde would have approved of the casting, probably finding it admirable and fitting that these two men about town would have avoided marriage for so many years. (I won't mention the ages of the actresses.) Joan Greenwood as Gwendolyn achieves just the right amount of flaky innocence and calculated whimsy, while Dorothy Tutin is the very definition of the spoiled, sweet and adorable, man-hunting Cecily Cardew. The direction by Anthony Asquith is unnecessarily directive in the sense that he moved some

maf-11 3 November 2003

The most recent version of The Importance of Being Ernest changed the script! Whoever thought that they could write better than Wilde was sorely mistaken. This version, however, is superb! Not only is the full text in tact, but Sir Michael Redgrave, known for his serious Shakespeare stage performances, shows how farce is best done when done "seriously". I love this version, and am ecstatic that it is now available on DVD. BRAVO!

gregcouture 11 April 2003

I haven't yet seen the 2002 theatrical film version of Wilde's classic, perhaps because I can't see how anyone, not even Judi Dench, could improve upon Dame Edith Evans's immortal portrayal of that deathless battle-axe, Lady Bracknell. And then there's Margaret Rutherford and Miles Malleson wittily playing characters that fitted them to a "T." Not to mention the unctuously delicious Joan Greenwood, whose line readings caress one's ears like the aural equivalent of a framboise liqueur. Dorothy Tutin was a perfect wise-for-her-young-years ingenue. But the men, in my view, were merely serviceable, with Michael Denison, especially, somewhat of an annoyance. The Technicolor mounting, deliberately stagey, was eye candy of the best sort, like an extravagantly decorated old-fashioned box containing the sort of confections one would savor to the very last morsel. Great fun!

khatcher-2 7 September 2003

Irish-born Oscar Wilde, who managed to die in Paris at only 46 years of age, formed part of that school of renegé novelists and poets from the Emerald Isle which included James Joyce. Indeed, these and other Irish writers were banned from publication in England and I seem to remember that James Joyce's earlier works were actually published in French before being allowed into print in English in the U.K.

Tut, tut, such piquant and avant-garde ideas would be too much for the genteel Victorian aristocracy living safely tucked up in hypocracy-ladened gallantry. Fortunately, for the colony-enriched classes, the `plebianism' of Charles Dickens was too long ago for their short memories, or never made it onto their bookshelves. Notwithstanding, from such gentlemanly proceedings such wit is born and which was soon to become one of the outstanding achievements of finest British humour: the ability to laugh at one's own foibles.

To this effect we must be, in great part, indebted to Mr. Wilde in general, and to `The Importance of Being Earnest' in particular. No other play of this genre has been so enacted and so many times converted into film and in so many languages as this classic of upper-crust comportment. Among the numerous versions available on film, this one by the irreplaceable Dame Edith Evans goes down as being the model from which any other readings must inevitably be taken. Dame Edith Evans IS Lady Bracknell; even Judy Dench is only playing the rôle in comparison.

The rising and setting of the curtain at the beginning and end of the film makes it totally clear that the play is to be seen on film but as if we – the spectators – were in the theatre. And so it should be: any free hand at getting away from such concept might well be unstomacheable, as well as irritating to admirers of the classics or simply people like myself who try not to be too pedantic. There are plenty of modern examples of William Shakespeare's plays on film which faithfully adhere to the original concepts and which do not lose anything in the telling. In this respect we can say that this version of the play is on target: what might seem exaggerated portrayals of the characters – especially Dame Edith Evan's reading of Lady Bracknell – indeed to my mind fulfills precisely what Oscar Wilde intended. Nobody else can ejaculate `F….o….u….n….d?' in five syllables as Dame Edith Evans does.

Fifty years on, this is still the version from which any other attempts will be judged. I hope I am not being earnest in excess…….

wes-connors 3 January 2010

Delightful film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's superb play about Victorian-era English manners and mix-ups. The play and performances are so close to Mr. Wilde's original words, you really can't go wrong; although, on close inspection, there are clearly some logistical problems. For example, it is shot beautifully, but without a flourish or imagination worthy of Wilde. And, cameras emphasize things that wouldn't have mattered with the otherwise marvelous cast on stage. To be fair, the film acknowledges this in its execution.

Everyone is exemplary, but elderly Aunt Edith Evans really demands to be seen. She possess the role of "Lady Augusta Bracknell" for all eternity, and would be famous for merely uttering the two words "A handbag?" but, every word and phoneme slips sardonically from the mind of Oscar Wilde to dame Edith's tongue. Ms. Evans should have received some "Best Supporting Actress" notice, but this was released in 1952, not 1948, and American voters were favoring homegrown material.

Pity.

******** The Importance of Being Earnest (6/2/52) Anthony Asquith ~ Michael Redgrave, Michael Denison, Edith Evans, Joan Greenwood

perfectbond 18 December 2004

I watched this film adaptation (and Oliver Parker's 2002 version as well) of Oscar Wilde's classic play The Importance of Being Earnest to complement my study of it for a 19th century English drama course. First I want to say, no matter what version(s) you choose to see, I strongly suggest you read the play first (its not that long). In some cases, the casting in the later film (specifically Reese Witherspoon as Cecily and Rupert Everett as Algy), made fifty(!) years later to be exact, seemed more appropriate but in my opinion Asquith's version captured the spirit of the text more succinctly. I must also say as well, however that since Asquith's version is essentially a staged play, there is little in the form of visual dynamism from the camera; in other words the film rests almost entirely on the strength of the performances. Happily, they do not disappoint.

bob the moo 29 October 2004

In the country, Jack has a large home, an 18-year-old ward, Cecily, to look after and is very serious. But in the city he is Earnest – a young wag with a dastardly reputation and a good friend in the shape of fellow bachelor Algy. However when he wants to marry his urban love Gwendolen he meets opposition from her guardian Lady Bracknell. Jack tells Gwendolen where his rural home is – and Algy overhears. Enticed by Jack's description of his ward Cecily, Algy travels to Jack's home and poses as his made up brother Earnest. However the arrival of Gwendolen puts the cat among the pigeons in a most frightful way that can only be resolved with delightful charm and wit (and some good fortune).

On the very day of Wilde's 150th birthday I decided that it seemed a perfectly reasonable time to rewatch one of his most famous works and sat to watch the most famous film version of Earnest. From the stage bound set up, this film opens up into proper sets, but it is not the background that opens up the film but the light and wonderful dialogue. I will not go into any more detail on the quality of the script because that stands for itself – that, well over 100 years later, I can still watch it and laugh is testament to its quality. The delivery of the film does it justice, even if (ironically enough) the film does feel rather stuck on a stage – certainly in comparison to the 2002 remake. This is understandable given the film's age but it does make the film feel a little constrained, but fortunately the wonderful dialogue gives it wings. Of course some people will not like the film for this reason as they prefer their humour to be more of the American Pie variety (nothing wrong with that) but for me I love the wit and fun it delivers.

Of course the cast is a major part of the delivery and the majority of them really do well with their roles. Redgrave is enjoyable and delivers his lines well even if he has the least colourful of the main characters. Denison is much more colourful and enjoys his smooth and rather caddish role with some relish and is enjoyable in support. Evans provides a most memorable character and also has some of the most celebrated lines (including the immortal and well-delivered 'a handbag?'). Of course stealing the film is usually the job of Margaret Rutherford, but she doesn't do that here despite still playing to her usual form. Greenwood and Tutin are OK and have plenty of good lines between them; they are little stilted at times but in some regards this is part of who they are – very proper and slightly absurd characters.

Overall this is a wonderfully light little film but one that would sadly struggle to make an impact at the box office if it were to be re-released today. Many will find the lack of big obvious belly laughs to be a problem but if you do then I would simply say you're watching the wrong movie and should try something you're more accustom to. For me the script is a classic foundation for some nice direction (despite the set bound production) and some great delivery from a talented cast all combine to make this the very model of wit and whimsy, the likes of which we do not see often enough any more.

wjfickling 26 September 2002

An hour and a half of sheer delightful Wildean wit and word play. Lush Technicolor, brilliant acting. Edith Evans steals the show by going over the top by carrying her 19th century style of stage acting just as far as it can go, i.e., to the point of parody. I haven't yet seen the 2002 version, but i don't see how it can compare.

Similar Movies

Falling Inn Love
The Angry Birds Movie 2
Let It Snow
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Abominable
Tall Girl
Chhichhore
Last Christmas
Sponsored links
Share this page:
watch movies online
WMO provides links to other LEGAL sites on the internet and doesn't host any files itself.