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Prick Up Your Ears

UK, English, 111 mins

  • Director: Stephen Frears
  • Writer: Alan Bennett; John Lahr
  • Producer: Andrew Brown

CGiii Comment

It really is a superlative biopic - faultless acting and writing.

The drama is off set by many instances of sublime humour - usually observational: Julie Walters ducking behind the door, for example.

We know it all ends in tragedy...but, Frears manages to sustain interest in the complex relationship between the two protagonists - this is about Halliwell just as much as it is about Orton - and Frears steps back, being faultlessly unobtrusive, and allows a sad, sad story to unfold.


The(ir) Blurb...

This film is the story of the spectacular life and violent death of British playwright Joe Orton. In his teens, Orton is befriended by the older, more reserved Kenneth Halliwell, and while the two begin a relationship, it's fairly obvious that it's not all about sex. Orton loves the dangers of bath-houses and liaisons in public restrooms; Halliwell, not as charming or attractive as Orton, doesn't fare so well in those environs. While both long to become writers, it is Orton who achieves fame - his plays "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" and "Loot" become huge hits in London of the sixties, and he's even commissioned to write a screenplay for the Beatles. But Orton's success takes him farther from Halliwell, whose response ended both his life and the life of the up-and-coming playwright.

Cast & Characters

Gary Oldman as Joe Orton;
Alfred Molina as Kenneth Halliwell;
Vanessa Redgrave as Peggy Ramsay;
Frances Barber as Leonie Orton;
Janet Dale as Mrs. Sugden;
Julie Walters as Elsie Orton;
Bert Parnaby as The Magistrate;
Margaret Tyzack as Madame Lambert;
Lindsay Duncan as Anthea Lahr;
Wallace Shawn as John Lahr;
Dave Atkins as Mr. Sugden;
John Bailey as Wigmaker;
Stephen Bill as George Barnett;
Jane Blackburn as Woman in gallery 1;
Mark Brignal as Beatles chauffeur

Alan Bennett

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