Prick Up Your Ears (1987)
Movie InfoThis unadorned biography of playwright Joe Orton (Gary Oldman) charts his bawdy, dangerous relationships. Alfred Molina plays Orton's brutish lover, Kenneth Halliwell, a pathetic figure who becomes horrific and then tragic before the film is over. The hilarity of scenes from such Orton plays as +Loot and +What the Butler Saw is evenly balanced by the bleakness of the playwright's tormented (and tormenting) off-stage existence, which ended suddenly at age 34 with half a dozen blows to the head from a hammer. Prick Up Your Ears is based on the book by theater critic John Lahr, who is played in the film by Wallace Shawn. … More
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Critic Reviews for Prick Up Your Ears
Gary Oldman is excellent as Orton, right down to remarkable resemblance, while Alfred Molina creates both an amusing and tormented Halliwell. Vanessa Redgrave takes top honors, though, as a compassionate and benign agent.
Oldman is brilliant; Molina's Halliwell less subtle; and the film's dissection of cottaging quaintly amusing.
The film covers the main events of the Orton life in a manner that is nothing less than distracted. One has little understanding of the fatal intensity - and need - that kept Orton and Halliwell together.
The great performances in the movie are, of course, at its center. Gary Oldman plays Orton and Alfred Molina plays Halliwell, and these are two of the best performances of the year.
The filmmakers have shown great intellectual taste. But it's not the kind of taste that's illuminating.
Like "Casablanca," "Diva," "Clockwork Orange" and countless other quality-cult films, "Prick Up Your Ears" has an indefinable idiosyncrasy that makes you want to come back for more.
A brilliant and painfully raw portrait of a troubled, a tragic relationship.
Oldman, fresh from his triumph as Sex Pistol Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy, is the key and holds it all together.
Molina stares down all clichés, veering away from effeminate tones when they would be most convenient and avoids trapping Ken into a brooding madman.
Stands up extraordinarily well: mostly because of two outstanding central performances, Gary Oldman as the talented, blase Orton, and Alfred Molina as his thwarted, Hancock-esque murderer Kenneth Halliwell.
A decent snapshot of pre-Beatle Britain, this is much more a fact-based gay melodrama than a trenchant portrait of Joe Orton's life, loves and art.
It is repetitive at times, occasionally lagging, but the performances by Oldman and especially Molina simply demand your attention.
Powerful look at the tragic death of Joe Orton, with excellent performances
Good, but never quite great biopic of Joe Orton
On one level a searing bio of Britain's most gifted playwright; on another, a harrowing portrait of fatal jealousy and love gone bad. Alfred Molina is mesmerizing.
Audience Reviews for Prick Up Your Ears
[font=Century Gothic][color=darkred]"Revengers Tragedy" is a movie based on the 17th century play by Thomas Middleton. In this version, it is updated to Liverpool in the near future where Vendici(Christopher Eccleston) is returning after a period of absence. He is back to swear vengeance against The Duke(Derek Jacobi, who does not have a lot to do), after he killed Vendici's bride in retaliation for her not wanting to have sex with him.(A good deal of this movie is taken up with men defending the honor of women. I can understand this happening in the 17th century but it's not likely for the present or anytime in the near future.) Other faults include the movie missing chances to have anything to say about 1) the nature of revenge and 2) the class structure.(The Duke is evil but Lord Antonio seems like a pretty alright guy.) But it is imaginatively staged with computer effects and is well acted especially by Christopher Eccleston and Eddie Izzard.[/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=darkslateblue]"Prick Up Your Ears" is based on the lives and tempestual relationship of playwright Joe Orton(Gary Oldman) and Kenneth Halliwell(Alfred Molina). Orton's role in life seemed to be wreaking playful havoc in the straitlaced society of 50's and 60's Britain, from defacing library books to anonymous sex in lavatories. The movie is witty and engaging. It gives great insight into the characters and their love for each other. Both Oldman and Molina do a great job. And it's a joy watching Wallace Shawn and Vanessa Redgrave act together.[/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=darkslateblue](Very strange literary note: Alfred Molina invokes T.S. Eliot in "Prick Up Your Ears." He would do so again in "Spider Man 2.") [/color][/font]
I felt the film could have explored more of the brief career of Joe Orton because the film tends to brush over those parts a bit. However the performances of Oldman and Molina are amazing. Its too bad the film was released in 1987, because if it was done now I think the content wouldn't have made people ignore it.More
Good little film about the life of Joe Orton. Alfred Molina is great as his lover Kenneth Halliwell. Plus an excellent script by Alan Bennet.More
Prick Up Your Ears Quotes
- Joe Orton:
- I always wanted to be an orphan. I could have, if it wasn't for my parents.
- Peggy Ramsay:
- Ken was the first wife. He did all the work and the waiting and then...
- John Lahr:
- Well, first wives don't usually beat their husbands' heads in.
- Peggy Ramsay:
- No. Though why I can't think.
- John Lahr:
- So what does that make you? The second wife?
- Peggy Ramsay:
- Better than that, dear. The widow.
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