The Importance of Being Earnest (1952) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

The Importance of Being Earnest




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Importance of Being Earnest Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

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, Rovimore
Rating: PG (mild sensuality)
Genre: Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
On DVD: Jun 25, 2002


Michael Redgrave
as Jack Worthing
Edith Evans
as Lady Bracknell
Michael Denison
as Algernon Moncrieff
Dorothy Tutin
as Cecily Cardew
Miles Malleson
as Canon Chasuble
Joan Greenwood
as Gwendolyn Fairfax
Aubrey Mather
as Merriman
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Importance of Being Earnest

Critic Reviews for The Importance of Being Earnest

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | March 10, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | October 31, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | May 5, 2014
Daily Telegraph

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.

Full Review… | February 8, 2012
Nick's Flick Picks

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.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


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.

Jeremy Smith

Super Reviewer


Wahida K

Super Reviewer

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