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The Importance of Being Earnest
Directed by Anthony Asquith
Produced by Teddy Baird
Earl St. John
Written by Oscar Wilde
Anthony Asquith
Starring Michael Redgrave
Michael Denison
Edith Evans
Joan Greenwood
Dorothy Tutin
Margaret Rutherford
Miles Malleson

Music by Benjamin Frankel
Release date(s) United Kingdom 2 June 1952
United States 22 December 1952 (NYC)
Running time 95 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952) is a British film adaptation of the play by Oscar Wilde. It was directed by Anthony Asquith, who also adapted the screenplay, and was produced by Teddy Baird.



The film is largely faithful to Wilde's text, although it divides some of the acts into shorter scenes in different locations. Edith Evans's outraged delivery of the line "A handbag?" has become legendary. As actor Ian McKellen has written, it is a performance "so acclaimed and strongly remembered that it inhibits audiences and actors years later" providing a challenge for any actress taking on the role of Lady Bracknell.[1]

The film is noted for its acting, yet the parts played by Redgrave and Denison call for actors ten years younger. Redgrave would have been more youthful without his moustache. Margaret Rutherford, who plays Miss Prism in this adaptation, played Lady Bracknell in the 1946 BBC production.

Awards and nominations

The film received a BAFTA nomination for Dorothy Tutin as Most Promising Newcomer and a Golden Lion nomination for Anthony Asquith at the Venice Film Festival.


See also




  1. ^ Ian McKellen, "Ian McKellen on The Test of Time", The Observer, 13 April 1975.


  • The Great British Films, pp 156–158, Jerry Vermilye, 1978, Citadel Press, ISBN 080650661X

External links


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