Ken Russell - Rotten Tomatoes

Ken Russell





British director Ken Russell started out training for a naval career, but after wartime RAF and merchant navy service he switched goals and went into ballet. Supplementing his dancing income as an actor and still photographer, Russell put together a handful of amateur films in the 50s before being hired as a staff director by the BBC. Russell made a name for himself (albeit a name not always spoken in reverence) during the first half of the '60s by directing a series of iconoclastic TV dramatizations of the lives of famous composers and dancers. And if he felt that the facts were getting in the way of his story, he'd make up his own -- frequently bordering on the libelous. If he had any respect for the famous persons whose lives he probed, it was secondary to his fascination with revealing all warts and open wounds.



A film director since 1963, Russell burst into the international consciousness with 1969's Women in Love, a hothouse version of the D.H. Lawrence novel. No director who staged a scene in a mainstream movie in which two men wrestled in the nude could escape notice, and thus Russell became more of a "star" than his actors. While some viewers had their sensibilities shaken by Women in Love, others had their sensibilities run through the blender with Russell's next film, The Music Lovers. Predicated on the notion that Peter Tchaikovsky and his wife were, respectively, a homosexual and nymphomaniac, the film's much discussed "highlight" is a scene in which Nina Tchaikovsky (Glenda Jackson) allows the inmates in the cellar of an insane asylum to reach up and play with her privates. But this was kid's stuff compared to Russell's The Devils (1971), an ultraviolent and perversely anachronistic adaptation of Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudun. Russell returned to his musical theater roots with The Boy Friend (1971), a bloated version of Sandy Wilson's intimate 1920s pastiche, brought The Who's rock opera Tommy to the screen in a visually flamboyant cinematization that starred Roger Daltrey and Ann-Margret,

and returned to offbeat biographical material with Lisztomania (1975) and Valentino (1975). The latter film not only suggested that Rudolph Valentino (Rudolf Nureyev) performed totally nude in his silent films, but also offered up the spectacle of Huntz Hall as producer Jesse Lasky. At this point, even some of the most devoted fans of Russell's outrageous (but undeniably brilliant) visual sense were fed up with his shock-for-shock's-sake approach and his all-consuming narcissism. Following the mind-bending horrors of Altered States in 1980, Russel maintained momentum with Gothic, a visually lavish retelling of the weekend of debauchery that gave birth to the Frankenstein mythos in the mind of a young female author named Mary Shelley. Though the film may have had its fair share of detractors due to Russel's signature departure from historical fact, it nevertheless aquired a cult following thanks to its heavy atmosphere and dark fantasy. After detailing the exploits of yet another famed author (this time Oscar Wilde) in the 1988 comedy drama Salome's Last Dance, Russel turned out another curiousity in the form of that same year's Lair of the White Worm. Based on Dracula author Bram Stoker's short story of the same name of featuring a memorable performance by a pre-romantic comedy stalwart Hugh Grant, Lair of the White Worm's outrageous, sex vampire excess and near surreal humor earned the effort a proud spot in many a cult movie aficionado's collection. He was back in his old form with 1991's Whore, which conveyed several times over that life on the streets is hell -- then for good measure, said it a few more times. Backed by a childishly slavering ad campaign, Whore brought Russell into the spotlight again for what would be the last time in some while.



Dabbling in television for much of the 1990s, may of Russel's efforts during the decade were fairly unmemorable despite featurin

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Isadora
  • Captain Patterson (uncredited)
2012
No Score Yet Invasion of the Not Quite Dead
  • Actor
2011
No Score Yet Valentino
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
2011
50% Color Me Kubrick
  • Nightgown Man
2007
68% Brothers of the Head
  • Himself
2006
33% Trapped Ashes
  • Director
2006
No Score Yet Agatha Christie - Marple: The Moving Finger
  • Actor
2005
No Score Yet Dance Of The Seven Veils
  • Director
2003
50% Gothic
  • Director
2002
No Score Yet The Fall of the Louse of Usher
  • Actor
  • Director
2002
No Score Yet Tracked (Dogboys) (Dog Boys)
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
1998
No Score Yet In Search of the English Folk Song
  • Screenwriter
  • Host
  • Director
1997
No Score Yet Mindbender (Uri Geller)
  • Director
1996
60% Tales of Erotica
  • Screenwriter
  • Mr. Kirsch
  • Director
1994
No Score Yet Prisoner of Honor
  • Director
1991
46% Whore
  • Director
1991
No Score Yet If You Can't Say It, Just See It
  • Director
1991
75% The Russia House
  • Walter
1990
No Score Yet Women & Men: Stories of Seduction
  • Director
1990
71% The Rainbow
  • Producer
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1989
61% The Lair of the White Worm
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1988
50% Aria
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1988
50% Salome's Last Dance
  • Kenneth
1987
No Score Yet Faust
  • Director
1985
33% Crimes of Passion
  • Director
1984
86% Altered States
  • Director
1980
No Score Yet Psychotic Connections
  • Director
1980
50% Valentino
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
  • Rex Ingram
1977
77% Tommy
  • Director
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1975
43% Lisztomania
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1975
No Score Yet Mahler
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1974
63% Savage Messiah
  • Director
1972
86% The Boy Friend
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1971
76% The Devils
  • Producer
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1971
73% The Music Lovers
  • Producer
  • Director
1971
91% Women in Love
  • Director
1969
60% Billion Dollar Brain
  • Director
1967
No Score Yet Monitor: Always on Sunday
  • Director
1965
No Score Yet The Debussy Film
  • Producer
  • Director
1965
No Score Yet French Dressing
  • Director
1964
No Score Yet Pop Goes the Easel
  • Director
1962
No Score Yet Prokofiev
  • Director
1961

Quotes from Ken Russell's Characters

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