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The Importance of Being Earnest (1952) - movie overview

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

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Original title: Importance of Being Earnest, The

Running Time
1 hour, 35 minutes

Country UK

Production Companies
Boulting Brothers, British Film-Makers Ltd., Javelin, The Rank Organisation Film Productions Ltd., Two Cities Films Ltd.

Studio General Film Distributors

More info on

Other Titles
• The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)
• Die Bedeutung ernst zu sein (1954)
• Ernst sein ist alles (1954)

• Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest

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Genre: Drama, Comedy, Role-switching, Satire, Love Triangle, Marriage, Love

Plot: Anthony Asquith, having directed a wonderful film of George Bernard Shaw's PYGMALION, turned in 1952 to another classic, one of the greatest theatrical comedies, Oscar Wilde's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. Set at the height of the Victorian era, popularly imagined to be a cold and repressive time, the visual contrast with 1950s Technicolor only seems to enhance Wilde's sharp satire and droll epigrams.

Cast with talented veterans of the English stage, even the minor characters are a delight. Asquith allows the actors, particularly the female roles, to deliver Wilde's dialogue in a ringing theatrical voice. Edith Evans as the imperious Lady Bracknell, full of strident tone and rolling R's, and always in high dudgeon, strikes fear in the heart of Jack (Michael Redgrave), while Joan Greenwood as the beautiful, opinionated Gwendolyn (who could never marry a man named "Jack"), melts his heart in a voice that practically purrs.

Wilde's use of a convoluted, improbable story, much imitated in the screwball comedies of the 1930s, never detracts from the pure enjoyment of his characters silly yet heartfelt struggles. Asquith's staging and directing is smooth and fluid, thus retaining a theatrical feel. This gives today's viewer a sense of what Victorian audiences must have felt

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 Directed by
Anthony Asquith
Pygmalion, The Yellow Rolls-Royce, The V.I.P.s
 Written by
Anthony Asquith
Pygmalion, The Yellow Rolls-Royce, The V.I.P.s
Oscar Wilde
An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Margaret Rutherford
Passport to Pimlico, Blithe Spirit, Murder, She Said
Michael Redgrave
The Lady Vanishes, The Innocents, Secret Agent
Richard Wattis
The Man Who Knew Too Much, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Hobson's Choice
Michael Denison
Shadowlands, The Glass Mountain
Walter Hudd
I Know Where I'm Going!, Sink the Bismarck!, Two Way Stretch
Edith Evans
The Nun's Story, Tom Jones, Scrooge
Joan Greenwood
Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Man in the White Suit, Tom Jones
 Music By
Benjamin Frankel
The Man in the White Suit, Battle of the Bulge, The Night of the Iguana

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