Author Topic: Trials of Oscar Wilde  (Read 3408 times)

Offline Front-Ranger

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Trials of Oscar Wilde
« on: March 04, 2015, 11:18:39 pm »
I watched an old movie yesterday, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, starring Peter Finch. It was riveting, even though it was more than 35 years old! Here's a quick review from IMDB:

Ken Hughes film 'The Trials of Oscar Wilde' may at first appear to be one of those cheesy Technicolor costume dramas when in fact it is a gripping and finely acted account of the appalling treatment Oscar Wilde received at the hands of the English justice system at the end of the 19th century.

Peter Finch is superb as the eponymous hero and is totally committed to the role and turns in one of his best performances on screen. The supporting cast is also quite good if more generalized in their characterizations, more a fault of the screenplay than the performers. There is one especially fine supporting performance from Lionel Jeffries as the maniacal Lord Queensbury. Jeffries plays Queensbury as a crazed brute, a type of man we can no longer countenance in these days, though I suspect they are still out there waiting for their chance to pounce on those who they fear and do not understand.

Sonia Dresdel is Lady Wilde, Oscar's dotty mother at the end of her life. It's a small part but is quietly powerful. Other people in Wilde's life, Constance, his wife, and Ada Leverson, his stalwart friend and life-long supporter, are tantalizingly glimpsed but little is revealed of their inner workings. But this isn't a film about them but about the actual trials and much of the film is spent in courtrooms. This might sound boring but it isn't.

James Mason appears in the first trial as the defending witness, for Lord Queensbury, and a more vicious, narrow-minded lawyer could hardly be found, even these days.

The technical credits are competent if nothing special; the music, melodramatic in a soap-opera-ish way, the sets plush and too clean. But somehow the power and tragedy of Wilde's story comes through all the gilding of the script, peppered with some of Wilde's wiser quotes, well-placed, naturally, in the text. There is nothing preachy or moralistic which is a relief, compared to the highly politicized scripts being written since this film was made.

It is interesting to note Nicholas Roeg as the camera operator. He wasn't the cinematographer but I detected a few Roeg-ish touches in a couple of the more meditative scenes.

This is not a film to be sluffed off as old-fashioned simply because there are no sex scenes or vulgar language or violence. The psychic violence suffered by Oscar Wilde was quite sufficient enough and this is a memorable film, worth having in the collection.
May 2019 be better for us all.

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Re: Trials of Oscar Wilde
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2015, 11:55:22 pm »
The movie ends with an excerpt from this quote (spoiler alert!)

"Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.
Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

Remind you of another story?
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Re: Trials of Oscar Wilde
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2017, 09:37:06 pm »
Recent events remind me of the last days of Wilde. Remember how he filed a lawsuit against the man who wronged him by calling him  homosexual? Although for very different reasons, Trump might bring infamy down on him by stating over and over again that there was fraud in the election. There WAS fraud in the election, but on his side.
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Trials of Oscar Wilde
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2017, 11:21:35 pm »
"Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.
Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

--The Ballad of Reading Gaol

(Read it in college.)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.