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United Kingdom 1952
Directed by
Anthony Asquith
95 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars

The Importance Of Being Earnest

Anthony Asquith’s film is like a front row seat at a first class production of Oscar Wilde's classic1885 drawing-room farce. Although Michael Redgrave at 44 is too old for the lead role as a youngish bachelor (he's supposed to be 30) about to take a wife, he is excellent at the head of a marvellous cast that includes Michael Denison as Algy, Dorothy Tutin as Cecily, Joan Greenwood as Gwendolen and in two of the most delicious performances, Margaret Rutherford as Miss Letitia Prism and Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell with Miles Malleson rounding things out as fuddy-duddy Canon Chasuble. If you like British stage farce it doesn't get any better than this adaptation of an oft-filmed play. My only reservation concerns a plot point. Both Gwendolen and Cecily want a spouse named Earnest. The former gets her wish but the latter seems to have been forgotten about.  

FYI: The director was the son of H.H. Asquith who, as Home Secretary, brought the charges of immorality which led to Wilde's imprisonment and, eventually, untimely death.




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