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Scandal (1989)


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 32
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


User Ratings: 2,386



Movie Info

True story of the infamous 1963 controversy in which a young showgirl's affairs with a British cabinet minister and a Russian official led to the upheaval of the British government.

R (adult situations/language, nudity, sex)
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Michael Thomas
In Theaters:
Sep 5, 2000
HBO Video


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Critic Reviews for Scandal

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (3) | DVD (7)

The film holds because of the brilliance of Hurt and the fascination of Whalley-Kilmer, as well as the sly, tongue-in-cheek viciousness of Bridget Fonda's Mandy Rice-Davies.

Full Review… | May 8, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Scandal is an express tour of the Profumo affair that moves with a pop historian's revisionist swagger and plays like News of the World headlines set to early '60s rock 'n' roll.

Full Review… | May 8, 2013
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

The greatest virtue of the filmmakers' straightforward approach is that it avoids the obvious pitfall of pretentiousness.

Full Review… | May 8, 2013
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Caton-Jones is not the most stylistically assured of filmmakers, but his ability with actors is obvious. For this project, that is enough to turn the flat conventions of the docudrama into something resembling life.

Full Review… | May 8, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Hurt is excellent as the charming but shallow Ward.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Caton-Jones' first feature is a serious, almost low-key affair, strong on period detail and imbued with a sense of genuine outrage.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

In Scandal director Caton-Jones has faithfully recreated early Sixties swinging London, with its East End nightlife, ska clubs, and girls galore.

Full Review… | May 8, 2013
Austin Chronicle

Instead of sleaze, director Caton-Jones and screenwriter Michael Thomas deliver a vindication of the affair's chief scapegoats -- Ward and Keeler -- in the form of a two-hour nostalgia trip, with some complex and powerful performances.

Full Review… | May 8, 2013
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A quality cast, polished writing and the atmospheric evocation of Soho and Whitehall sleaze make for a powerful depiction of Ward's fall from grace.

Full Review… | May 8, 2013

If you're familiar with the scandal in question, this does an excellent job in unravelling what it was actually all about.

Full Review… | May 8, 2013
Empire Magazine

The movie is at its best when examining the complex character of Ward

Full Review… | May 8, 2013
Philadelphia Daily News

Call it a hindsight view of British history, an unnecessarily controversial film about the uses of sex, or a perverse love story -- any of the descriptions will fit Scandal.

Full Review… | May 8, 2013
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

A well made but emotionally unengaging look at one of the most famous sex scandals of 20th century Britain.

Full Review… | October 27, 2011
Three Movie Buffs

Depicts the 1963 Profumo affair in England as an episode in class warfare.

Full Review… | July 10, 2003
Spirituality and Practice

more interested in the people rather than the parts they played in a national scandal

February 27, 2001
Q Network Film Desk

An exacting treatise of the Profumo affair, excellent acted by all.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for Scandal


I think that the characters could have used more definition in places (the serious non-sexual attraction between Ward and Keeler was rather undefined and vague) but whats great is that even though the movie is 20 years old and the events occurred nearly 50 years ago its still incredibly relevant. The public both loves and hates sexualized figures, and most of that arises from our personal confusion about the whole nature of sex. Its fun, but it makes Jesus upset. The events depicted here happen today in almost the exact same fashion (only now the internet hypes these things even more out of control) and director Michael Caton-Jones recognizes that our misguided attitudes about sex are what creates the firestorm.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

I haven't seen this since it first came out, but the song still haunts...

Lesley N

Super Reviewer

In 1963, the conservative British government was shaken to its foundations by the Profumo Scandal. The central character in this disastrous affair was John Profumo, Britain's minister of war, who had become sexually involved with call-girl Christine Keeler, whose "sponsor" was high-priced osteopath Dr. Stephen Ward. Fancying himself a dashing international adventurer, Ward had also offered Christine to alleged Soviet spy Eugene Ivanov. Another of Ward's stable, Mandy Rice-Davies, allegedly had slept with numerous British and American luminaries.

I was completely lost for words as I watched Michael Caton-Jones "Scandal". It is a fascinating and yet complex film that deserves to be in good comparison to previous rise and fall pictures such as "Goodfellas", "Casino", "Nixon" and "Bonnie & Clyde". John Hurt is very good as Stephen Ward as is Ian McKellan as Profumo. The best scene in the film is during the court room, where Keeler is seen getting sandbagged with stong questions involving the scandal. A very distraught Hurt stands up and yells out to Keeler's defence (almost a cry out to God) and says..."That is not fair!".

The camera focuses intensely on Hurt's face that made me cringe with sympathy. I cringed because Stephen Ward's reptuation sank faster then the Titanic. I also found Joanne Whalley to be very good and confident as Christine Keeler, Briget Fonda gives a great performance as Mandy Rice-Davies, Ian McKellan as Defence Minister John Profumo and British singer Roland Gift (Fine Young Cannibals) as Johnny Edgecombe. "Scandal" is a great film, a fascinating one that will want me to read up more on the Profumo affair.

Critique Threatt
Brian R

Super Reviewer


Extremel;y well made if a little fanciful at times with the truth. I researched the original story after seeing this and was impressed with how damn stupid Profumo was.....good film though.

Barry Lappin

Super Reviewer

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