The Trials of Oscar Wilde

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The Trials of Oscar Wilde
The Trials of Oscar Wilde poster.jpg
Directed byKen Hughes
Produced byIrving Allen
Albert R. Broccoli
Harold Huth
Written byThe Stringed Lute
by John Furnell
Screenplay byMontgomery Hyde
Ken Hughes
StarringPeter Finch
Yvonne Mitchell
James Mason
Nigel Patrick
Lionel Jeffries
John Fraser
Music byRon Goodwin
CinematographyTed Moore
Edited byGeoffrey Foot
Production
company
Distributed byEros Films[1]
Release date
  • 28 May 1960 (1960-05-28) (London)
[1]
Running time
123 minutes[2]
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget£270,000[3][4]

The Trials of Oscar Wilde, also known as The Man with the Green Carnation and The Green Carnation, is a 1960 British film based on the libel and subsequent criminal cases involving Oscar Wilde and the Marquess of Queensberry. It was written by Allen and Ken Hughes, directed by Hughes, and co-produced by Irving Allen, Albert R. Broccoli and Harold Huth. The screenplay was by Ken Hughes and Montgomery Hyde, based on the play The Stringed Lute by John Furnell. The film was made by Warwick Films and released by Eros Films.

It stars Peter Finch as Wilde, Lionel Jeffries as Queensberry, and John Fraser as Bosie (Lord Alfred Douglas) with James Mason, Nigel Patrick, Yvonne Mitchell, Maxine Audley, Paul Rogers and James Booth.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In November 1959, Ken Hughes said he hoped for Laurence Olivier or Alec Guinness to play the title role. "I know American actors who would run a mile rather than play a part like this, but the film will be a flop unless Wilde is played by someone of stature," said Hughes. "We are going to have some stiff legal problems. We shall approach the Queensbury family. The Marquis will be shown as the villain and I don't know how his family will like that. As for Wilde, the film will show him deserving pity, a genius living in a superficial fantasy world."[5]

Vyvyan Wilde said "the film company has not approached me. I should be very glad to act as advisor although I cannot say I would approve until I have seen the script.[5]

In February 1960, it was announced Peter Finch would play the role for a fee of £25,000. "I'm scared stiff," said Finch. "Mind you the fact it's such a challenge is one reason I'm so keen. It's exciting to do something everybody says you can't."[6]

It was one of two films about Wilde released in 1960, the other being 20th Century Fox' Oscar Wilde starring Robert Morley. According to production designer Ken Adam, producer Irving Allen set up four editing rooms for the production, working in parallel during principal photography; the setup permitted the film on the screen in the West End seven weeks after they had started filming.[7][1] The production was filmed in Technirama.[1]

Release[edit]

The film was released at midnight on Saturday, 28 May 1960 at Studio One in London before its general release on 30 May 1960.[1] It was released a week after Oscar Wilde.[1] Producers of both films originally refused to change their movie titles. Eventually, after confusion at various cinemas, Warwick announced they would release The Trials of Oscar Wilde as The Green Carnation.[8]

Reception[edit]

Critical[edit]

In his review of the film, Bosley Crowther wrote: "Mr. Wilde himself could not have expected his rare personality or his unfortunate encounters with British justice on a morals charge to have been more sympathetically or affectingly dramatized. In comparison to that other British picture about the same subject that opened [in New York City] last week, this one is more impressive in every respect, save one."[9] Crowther concludes the review saying "The only thing is you wonder if this is a fairly true account, if Mr. Wilde was as noble and heroic as he is made to appear. And if he was, what was he doing with those cheap and shady young men? It looks to us as if they are trying to whitewash a most unpleasant case, which is one of the more notorious and less ennobling in literary history."[9]

Variety magazine, commenting on the performances, said "Peter Finch gives a moving and subtle performance as the ill-starred playwright. Before his downfall he gives the man the charm that he undoubtedly had....John Fraser as handsome young Lord Alfred Douglas is suitably vain, selfish, vindictive and petulant and the relationship between the two is more understandable. Where Trials suffers in comparison with the B&W film is in the remarkable impact of the libel case court sequence. James Mason never provides the strength and bitter logic necessary for the dramatic cut-and-thrust when Wilde is in the witness box."[10]

The film has been called "Hughes' one undeniable classic."[11]

Awards[edit]

The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best English-Language Foreign Film. Peter Finch won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and the film also received four other BAFTA nominations including Best British Film, Best Film from any source and for John Fraser as Best British Actor. Peter Finch (tied with Bambang Hermanto) also received the Best Actor Award at the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival.[12]

Influence[edit]

The film was the inspiration for a promotional film made for the Rolling Stones song "We Love You"; the 1967 film, directed by Peter Whitehead, featured Mick Jagger as Wilde, Keith Richards as the Marquis, and Marianne Faithfull as Bosie.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Myers, Harold (1 June 1960). "A Queer Rivalry: 2 'Oscar Wildes'". Variety. p. 7. Retrieved 2 February 2021 – via Archive.org.
  2. ^ Release information from the BFI National Archive Film & TV Database
  3. ^ Alexander Walker, Hollywood, England, Stein and Day, 1974 p138
  4. ^ Film Makers’ ‘Rusty Swords’ Date: Saturday, May 14, 1960 Publication: The Daily Telegraph p13
  5. ^ a b Goring, Edward (17 November 1959). "Oscar Wilde's life story to be filmed". Daily Mail. p. 1.
  6. ^ Tanfield, Paul (16 February 1960). "Mr Finch signs for Oscar Wilde and £25,000". Daily Mail. p. 12.
  7. ^ A Kubrick Masterclass with Sir Ken Adam, Hosted by Sir Christopher Frayling Archived 2 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine, from The Script Factory
  8. ^ "Warwick Gives in on 'Wilde' Title Change". Variety. 31 August 1960. p. 20 – via Archive.org.
  9. ^ a b Crowther, Bosley (28 June 1960). "Wilde Absolved: Writer's 'Trials' Get New Examination". The New York Times. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Rich. (1 June 1960). "Film Reviews: The Trials of Oscar Wilde". Variety. p. 6. Retrieved 2 February 2021 – via Archive.org.
  11. ^ Vagg, Stephen (14 November 2020). "Ken Hughes Forgotten Auteur". Filmink.
  12. ^ "2nd Moscow International Film Festival (1961)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  13. ^ Oscar in Popular Culture[permanent dead link], from Issue no 45 (July 2008) of The Oscholars

External links[edit]