The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

The Importance of Being Earnest poster.jpg

To speak frankly, I am not in favour of long engagements. They give people an opportunity of finding out each other’s characters before marriage. Which I think is never advisable. Valentine’s Day 1895, England. Circumstances compel Ernest (Michael Redgrave), whose real name is Jack Worthing, and Algernon Moncrieff (Michael Denison) to pretend to be someone that they are not.  My name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country. Jack has created a fictional brother to cope with life in the country while Algernon poses as Jack’s brother and uses the name Ernest to woo Jack’s pretty young ward, his adoptive cousin Cecily Cardew (Dorothy Tutin). Jack is in love with Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen Fairfax (Joan Greenwood) whose formidable mother Lady Bracknell (Edith Evans) is not amused. And before he can propose he has to sort out the matter of Cecily who shares with Gwendolen a devotion to the manly name of Ernest and they are both engaged to him … To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness… Straightforward presentation of Oscar Wilde’s classic parlour comedy of manners and mistaken identity, with the immortal Edith Evans giving a peerless rendition of Lady Bracknell. A handbag?! That line can never be delivered by anyone without reference to this performance. The penultimate scene, a face-off between Bracknell and the tutor Miss Prism (Margaret Rutherford) that yields the mystery of identity at the story’s heart, is utterly delectable.  I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on a train. Joan Greenwood was likewise born to play Gwendolen. This can’t be beaten for fidelity to the text, an extraordinary cast and exquisite timing. Virtually every elegant, hilarious line – an aphorism, a truism, a witticism – belongs in a book of quotations. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. Beautifully plush Victoriana adapted and directed by Anthony Asquith. All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his