Search - The Oscar Wilde Collection (The Importance of Being Earnest / The Picture of Dorian Gray / An Ideal Husband / Lady Windermere's Fan) on DVD

The Oscar Wilde Collection (The Importance of Being Earnest / The Picture of Dorian Gray / An Ideal Husband / Lady Windermere's Fan)
The Oscar Wilde Collection
The Importance of Being Earnest / The Picture of Dorian Gray / An Ideal Husband / Lady Windermere's Fan
Actors: John Gielgud, Jeremy Brett, Peter Firth, Gwen Ffrangcon Davies, Nan Munro
Directors: John Gorrie, Rudolph Cartier, Stuart Burge, Tony Smith
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
NR     2002     6hr 48min

"Wilde" about witty dialogue, scandalous secrets and ingenious intrigue? Let the BBC transport you back to the decadent aristocratic drawing rooms of 1890's England. Lovingly restored, these plays feature a who's who of ...  more »


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Actors: John Gielgud, Jeremy Brett, Peter Firth, Gwen Ffrangcon Davies, Nan Munro
Directors: John Gorrie, Rudolph Cartier, Stuart Burge, Tony Smith
Creators: Cedric Messina, Louis Marks, John Osborne, Oscar Wilde
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Love & Romance, Television
Studio: BBC Video
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 05/21/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 09/27/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 6hr 48min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 11
Edition: Import
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

kinseyc | Montreal, Quebec Canada | 05/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Bless the BBC for making those gems from their PLAY OF THE MONTH series finally available to the public. I hope this is only the beginning, since one can only imagine what treasures lie in that noble institution's archives!This collection includes four of Wilde's plays: AN IDEAL HUSBAND (1969), THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1976), LADY WINDEMERE'S FAN (1985) and THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (1988). These insightful adaptations of Oscar Wilde's masterpieces featuring wonderful performances by top British thespians (John Gielgud, Joan Plowright, Jeremy Brett, Susan Hampshire, Margaret Leighton, Peter Firth, Judy Bowker and Dinah Sheridan to name but a few) are a delight to watch, and call for repeat viewing.A great deal of effort clearly went into this box set, so you're not just getting a pixillated transfer from video to DVD. The plays have been digitally remastered so the DVD version is visually stunning and the sound is crystal-clear, allowing us to savour every line of Wilde's witty dialogue. Each play comes with chapterisation and notes on cast members. An interesting 60-minutes documentary of Oscar Wilde's life and loves has been added as a bonus. Fans of Jeremy Brett should know he has major parts in THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY and AN IDEAL HUSBAND. Those who fell in love with his rendition of Sherlock Holmes will not want to miss this opportunity to see him brilliantly handle the intricacies of Wilde's works. His superb performances alone are reason enough to buy the set. 408 Minutes of joy."
"The truth is a thing I get rid of as soon as possible."
Themis-Athena | from somewhere between California and Germany | 06/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Best remembered for his countless poignantly witty epigrams, Oscar Wilde was a leading representative of Aestheticism, a movement espousing the notion that art exists for no other purpose than its existence itself. Born in Dublin and a graduate of Oxford's Magdalen College, he worked as a journalist, editor and lecturer before turning to dramatic writing, and produced his most acclaimed works in the six-year span from 1890 to 1895, roughly coinciding with his romantic involvement with sixteen years younger Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas. "Bosie's" strained relationship with his father, the Marquees of Queensberry, eventually caused a series of confrontations between Wilde and the Marquees, in turn resulting in three trials, Wilde's conviction for "gross indecencies" under a law interpreted to prohibit homosexual relationships, and a two-year prison sentence of "hard labor." Wilde emerged from prison a broken man and, after three years' wanderings throughout Europe, died in 1900 of cerebral meningitis, barely 46 years old.

This marvelous collection brings together four of his best-known works in productions from the BBC's long-running "Play of the Month" series, starring an array of Britain's finest actors; plus a biography with contributions by, inter alia, renowned scholar Isobel Murray, Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland and "Bosie's" great-grandniece Lady Alice Douglas, as well as many well-chosen excerpts from Wilde's works and the trial transcripts, visits to the locations of his life's key stations, and a wealth of photographs.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" was Wilde's only novel (first published 1890; republished 1891 after widespread condemnation as "immoral," with a preface explaining Wilde's views on art); the tale of an exceptionally handsome young man who sells his soul to maintain his beauty, letting his portrait age in his stead, and soon growing increasingly evil, believing that his beauty will make up for any and all acts of cruelty. Those who know the splendid 1945 adaptation starring Hurd Hatfield in the title role, George Sanders as his seducer, decadent Lord Henry Wotton, Lowell Gilmore as painter Basil Hallward and young Angela Lansbury as Dorian's innocent lover, actress Sibyl Vane, will come to this with high expectations, but the BBC's 1976 cast more than holds its own. Peter Firth is a perfect Dorian, complete with "finely-curved ... lips, frank blue eyes [and] crisp golden hair" (Wilde) - the proverbial golden boy turning ugly under an angelic, albeit increasingly arrogant exterior. Sir John Gielgud, probably the 20th century's best British actor with an uncanny ability to portray *any* character as if he were born to play that role and that role alone, turns in a stellar performance as Sir Henry, dropping some of Wilde's most biting epigrams with an unmatched deadpan expression and impeccable timing. Jeremy Brett, best-known to later TV audiences as Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, completes an excellent leading trio as Basil Hallward. Scripted by noted playwright John Osborne, this dramatization somewhat streamlines the novel's storyline, without, however, straying from its core; and pointedly (but never gratuitously) uses its medium to reveal the three protagonists' homoerotic relationship (as well as that between Dorian and his friend Alan Campbell); only alluded to in the novel and yet, besides its mockery of 19th century society's shallowness, the one factor most contributing to its initial condemnation.

"The Importance of Being Earnest" (1895) is a comedy of manners revolving around two friends, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, their love interests, Jack's ward Cecily and Algy's cousin Gwendolyn, and the problems arising from both ladies' preference for a husband with the first name Ernest and from Jack's ignorance about his origin, as he was found in a bag in a Victoria Station cloak-room, which Gwendolyn's mother Lady Bracknell scorns as a show of "contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution," assuring Jack that she'll never allow her daughter to "form an alliance with a parcel." Again there's a superb cinematic adaptation against which this 1988 BBC production has to compete, the 1952 film starring Michael Redgrave (Jack), Michael Denison (Algy), Edith Evans (Lady Bracknell), Joan Greenwood (Gwendolyn), Dorothy Tutin (Cecily) and Margaret Rutherford (Cecily's tutor Miss Prism). But while this production isn't quite such a class act - nor as visually dazzling as the less faithful 2002 movie starring Colin Firth (Jack), Rupert Everett (Algy), Judi Dench (Lady Bracknell), Frances O'Connor (Gwendolyn), Reese Witherspoon (Cecily) and Anna Massey (Miss Prism) - it does feature fine performances, particularly from Joan Plowright (Lady Bracknell) and Rupert Frazer (Algy).

"Lady Windermere's Fan" (1893), Wilde's first truly successful play, deals with the moral trials faced by a young woman of society whose uncompromising, Puritan views of life are tested when she has reason to suspect her husband of infidelity with a Mrs. Erlynne, a divorced (and for that reason alone, ill-reputed) woman trying to make a comeback into London society after years of living abroad. Helena Little and Tim Woodward acquit themselves well in the BBC's 1985 adaptation as Lady and Lord Windermere, but the true standout performances are Stephanie Turner's (Mrs. Erlynne) and Sara Kestelman's (the Duchess of Berwick, who in a wonderfully ad-libbed line sends her daughter to go outside and "look for" - instead of at - the sunset).

"An Ideal Husband" (1895) finally takes a rather darkly sardonic look at blackmail, hypocrisy and corruption in politics. Although brought to the big screen in 1999 with an all-star cast led by Julianne Moore (Mrs. Cheveley), Cate Blanchett (Lady Gertrude Chiltern), Minnie Driver (Mabel Chiltern), Jeremy Northam (Sir Robert Chiltern) and Rupert Everett (Lord Goring), the BBC's 1969 version holds up well; if for no other reason because of young Jeremy Brett's captivating portrayal of Scarlett-Pimpernellish Lord Goring, Margaret Leighton's devious Mrs. Cheveley ... and because it's actually a faithful production of Wilde's play, whereas the 1999 movie, like 2002's "Importance of Being Earnest" directed by Robert Parker, takes several crucial artistic licenses, not the least, the omission of Lord Goring's and Mrs. Cheveley's face-off over a certain bracelet.

Also recommended:
Complete Works of Oscar Wilde (Collins Classics)
Oscar Wilde
Wilde (Special Edition)
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Importance of Being Earnest - Criterion Collection
The Importance of Being Earnest
An Ideal Husband
A Good Woman"
Positive Recommendation
Wildeguy | New York | 02/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This collection offers four performances and a bonus biography of Wilde. That is a good thing. Unfortunately quantity does not always equal quality."The Picture of Dorian Gray", in my opinion (aside from Gielgud's stunning Harry Wotton) did not do a great justice to the book. The "Importance of Being Earnest" is better when Dame Edith Evans plays the monster who is, unfairly, not a myth. Joan Plowright is an incredibly stunning actress, but she is not a Lady Bracknell. Oh my, no! (To be fair, neither is Judi Dench). "An Ideal Husband" will never again be the same after Cate Blanchett, Minnie Driver, and Rupert Everett. They have all the playfulness, youth, and fun, of Oscar Wilde. This rendition is too dated. That leaves "Lady Windermere's Fan". Astounding!! Helena Little is superb in this character. She has that shy, gentile, sweetness that is essential for the role. Sara Kestelman will have you on the floor laughing. She is over the top!! She actually changes a line in the play. The Duchess of Berwick is supposed to say "Agatha darling, will you go out on the terrace and look at the sunset?". Instead she asks poor, sweet, dear, darling Agatha to look "for" a sunset...the effect is hilarious and it is all Kestelman's own brilliant work. Her performance alone rates her right up there! Right beside Dame Edith Packer in my opinion. Aside from Maggie Smith, I have never seen an actress who can play the part of an "English" Lady quite like Kestelman. It is worth the price of the DVD alone.

That leaves the biography. A tour de force!! Alan Sinfield, Isobel Murray, Merlin Holland, and Bosie's great-grandniece (Lady Alice Douglas) all appear in this wonderful docu-drama. The music begins with a mellow cello that is very touching. There is the recording of Wilde (pseudo?) quoting from the Ballad of Reading Gaol. The documentary ends with the late Sir John Gielgud reading the last lines of "De Profundis" at the dedication ceremony of the Oscar Wilde memorial window in Westminster Abbey. That will make you shiver. If you're a Wilde fan, the biography will make you laugh, cry, feel proud, shamed, in short, the whole range of human emotions. Too bad it's so short. Postmodernists might think it too mushy to say, but if you put your heart where your intellect is and unite them, then you will see that this biography captures a life with love. The love that Oscar gave, and the love we have for him!

I recommend this collection on the whole."
An Uneven Collection
Dave_42 | Australia | 12/10/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

""The Oscar Wilde Collection" includes four performances of Wilde's works, and a feature on the life of Oscar Wilde. These were all broadcast on the BBC in the past, and they feature several well-known actors, such as Sir John Gielgud, Joan Plowright, Jeremy Brett, Susan Hampshire, Margaret Leighton, and more.

"The Importance of Being Earnest" is one of Wilde's greatest works. It was first performed in 1895, in the St. James' Theatre in London. However, the performance here is not the original four act version of the play. The written information lists this as being the 1988 production of the play, but the Internet Movie Database shows it as being from 1986, and one can see in the video credits that the 1986 data appears to be correct. This is the story of two men, each of whom use an unreal person to give them an excuse to avoid unwelcome situations. This practice ultimately results in causing more trouble than it avoids for each of them. The performance is good, but far from exceptional. Joan Plowright gives a decent performance as Lady Bracknell.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" is a performance based on Wilde's 1891 novel. This production first aired in 1976, and I don't think it is very good at all. The only thing worthwhile is the performance of Sir John Gielgud as Lord Henry Wotton. Of course, this is the one work presented here which is not a play in its original form. The story is of a man (Dorian Gray) who wishes he could stay young like his portrait, and have the portrait grow old in his place.

"An Ideal Husband" is originally from 1895, and this is my favorite of the four productions included in this collection. First broadcast in 1969, there are several great performances here. Jeremy Brett is wonderful as Vicount Goring, and Margaret Leighton (Mrs. Cheveley), Dinah Sheridan (Lady Chiltern), and Keith Michell (Sir Robert Chiltern) all deliver strong performances as well. The play involves blackmail, political corruption, and the idea that no one should be judged entirely by their past.

"Lady Windermere's Fan" is a play from 1892. This performance is from 1985, and as with "The Importance of Being Earnest" it is a good, but not great, performance. This play is about the appearance of impropriety which nearly destroys Lord and Lady Windermere's marriage, when she learns that he is spending an unseemly amount of time in Mrs. Erlynne's presence and giving her large amounts of money. Mrs. Erlynne is well played by Stephanie Turner.

The feature titled "The Life and Loves of Oscar Wilde" is well done, and provides a great deal of insight into the man and his tragic end."