The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)
Anthony Asquith's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's witty play of mistaken identities stars Michael Redgrave as rich bachelor Jack Worthing. Jack's friend is Algernon Moncrieft (Michael Denison), a poor bloke living on credit. Jack refers mysteriously to Algernon about his country retreat, which drives Algernon to distraction, trying to figure out where Jack goes on the weekends. Jack is also in love with Algernon's attractive cousin Gwendolen (Joan Greenwood). He also has a ward, Cecily Cardew (Dorothy Tutin), who lives at the country estate and studies with local spinster Miss Prism (Margaret Rutherford). When Algernon learns of Cecily, he arrives at the country home claiming to be Jack's brother Earnest, knowing Jack had previously regaled Cecily with tales of having to bail the fictitious Earnest out of scrapes so he could sneak out to the city. Having set her eyes on "Earnest" in the flesh after having heard countless tales of his intrigues, Cecily immediately falls in love with Earnest. Meanwhile, Jack comes back to the country dressed in black, determined to announce to the group the demise of the fictional Earnest. As a result, Jack is stupefied when he sees Earnest standing in front of him. Meanwhile, Algernon's aunt, Lady Bracknell (Edith Evans) refuses to grant permission for Jack and Gwendolen's engagement. However, when Lady Bracknell finds out that Algernon is in love with Cecily, she asks Jack for his blessing on their marriage. Of course, Jack won't give his blessing until Lady Bracknell gives her blessing to his proposed marriage to Gwendolen. All is at a standstill until Lady Bracknell recognizes Miss Prism as a governess from the past who holds secrets concerning both Jack and Algernon. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for The Importance of Being Earnest
The perfect cast - Michael Redgrave, Michael Denison, Margaret Rutherford - and the perfect director (Anthony Asquith) know just how seriously (not very) to take this amoral satire on society's falsity.
For an audience that takes pleasure in the all-too-rare art of faithful adaptations that vivify rather than embalming their sources [...] Asquith's conservative handling is just what the confirmed and secret Bunburyist ordered.
One is left to appreciate the zingers and spirited performances in this understandably enduring comedy of mistaken identities and romantic entanglements.
Civilized comedy has never been more civilized -- or as preposterously funny.
A very competent and enjoyable rendition of Oscar Wilde's most witty play from 1895.
Asquith, an expert in comedy ..., knows just how to let Wilde's drawing-room farce play out to maximum effectiveness with a minimum of intrusion
Audience Reviews for The Importance of Being Earnest
Old school drawing room wit and sensibilities like honey for your tea in this 1962 romcom about mistaken identities and amour, darling.More
The premire film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's comic masterpeice is this 1952 version. The very model of wit and whimsy that came so naturally in the 50's and comes so rarely today. A confirmed bumburist myself, The Importance of Being Ernest was the first play I ever saw and since then I have become an avid fan of Oscar Wilde. There have been several versions but this is truly the best, with no unnecesary scenes or added dialogue, just the exact words of the brilliant play. Every Wilde fan will be perfectly satistfied. Best watched with an older aunty or uncle, some cucumber sandwiches and a cup of tea for some pure Wilde indulgent delight.More
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