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Prick Up Your Ears [VHS]

Gary Oldman , Alfred Molina , Stephen Frears    Suitable for 18 years and over   VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Actors: Gary Oldman, Alfred Molina, Vanessa Redgrave, Wallace Shawn, Lindsay Duncan
  • Directors: Stephen Frears
  • Writers: Alan Bennett, John Lahr
  • Producers: Andrew Brown
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Carlton
  • VHS Release Date: 26 Jan 2000
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CJRR
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 348,114 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description


Based on John Lahr's biography of the same name and co-written by Alan Bennett, Prick Up Your Ears charts the 16-year relationship between the monstrously talented but deeply selfish playwright Joe Orton (Gary Oldman), author of West End farces such as Loot and What the Butler Saw, and his neurotic but nevertheless wronged lover and collaborator Kenneth Halliwell (Alfred Molina). Halliwell introduced Orton to art, literature and gay sex only to see his protégeacute; outstrip his mentor with innate and rampant talent for sexual conquest. By turns hilarious and excoriatingly painful, it's as much a tribute to an anti-hero of our times-Orton's ruthless frankness and anarchic mindset helped form the basis of what's called the "queer" sensibility today--as it is a portrait of the Swinging 60s just after the reform of anti-homosexuality laws irrevocably changed society. The modern-day framing device has Lahr (Wallace Shawn) researching his book through interviews with Peggy Ramsay (Vanessa Redgrave), Orton's agent and the diary he wrote, a nimble device which ends up drawing a provocative parallel between Orton and Halliwell's relationship and that of Lahr and his wife (Lindsay Duncan). Director Stephen Frears, fresh off the back of the also-gay-themed My Beautiful Laundrette, nimbly balances our sympathies for both the protagonists while the leads give what may in retrospect look like the standout performances of their careers: Oldman was never more feral and charming, while Molina, foppishingly fretting over his wig and decrying that his lover "even sleeps better than I do" is simply heartbreaking. --Leslie Felperin

Product Description

The life story of controversial 1960s playwright Joe Orton (Gary Oldman), revealed in flashback after his murder by lover Kenneth Halliwell (Alfred Molina). Born in Leicester, Orton moves to London and enjoys an openly gay relationship with Halliwell in their famous Islington flat. However, when Orton achieves spectacular success with such plays as 'What the Butler Saw' and 'Loot', Halliwell begins to feel alienated and the pair's future looks increasingly uncertain.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prick Up Your Eyes! 20 July 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A new and special edition of this 1987 film starring Gary Oldman before his downfall, brings the life of Joe Orton to the screen. In doing some research as to why yet another re-release was needed to be, I found out through searching the internet these extra added features:

DVD special features:
Interview With Stephen Frears.
Recollections Of Leonie Barnett.
1967 Interview Of Joe Orton With Eamonn Andrews.
English Hard Of Hearing

Just the thought of seeing a filmed interview with the real-life Joe Orton, if that is indeed what is presented here, is well worth the price of admission to this colorful and remarkable piece of gay cinema. Hopefully in the future, there may be a full fledge documentary on Joe Orton as he seems to be still a rather mysterious but playful and original playright of the twentieth century.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad but true 14 Mar 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This true story, based on John Lahr's biography of the playwright Joe Orton, is not for the squeamish. Orton (author of 'Loot' and 'Entertaining Mr Sloane' and real-life friend of Kenneth Williams) is played brilliantly by Gary Oldman, while his partner, the less successful and thus increasingly bitter Kenneth Halliwell, is recreated by Alfred Molina. Fond of picking up men in the public toilets of London, Orton lives life to the full, knowing no self-control whatsoever. His rise to fame is meteoric, while Halliwell - portrayed as possibly the better artist - is never recognised. Orton's brutal murder at the close of the film is a heart-stopping shock - but it's portrayed as it actually happened - he was beaten to death with a hammer by his lover, before Halliwell took his own life with an overdose.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More ears than pricks 7 Jan 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Gary Oldman's spunky performance as the 1960s playwright Joe Orton prevents 'Prick Up Your Ears' from being classed with the slew of 'as it was' Britflicks that the nostalgia-hungry 1980s brought forth; otherwise, many of the standard hallmarks are present - luvvies playing 'real life' characters, periodic displays of off-the-shelf angst, and topical and biographic exposition shoved into the screenplay so that any audience member who's unfamiliar with the 'actual' story behind the film is not excluded; and let's not forget the inevitable London double-decker bus trundling past in the period street scenes (at least the one in PUYE had a purpose: transporting Orton's character to a romp in a public lavatory).
But perhaps the biggest flaw in Alan Bennett's script is that it fails to convey much sense of Orton's work, literary brilliance, and therefore, why the man warrants this attention.
That said, anyone interested in Orton, or the British theatre in the late 1960s, will have fun watching this film.
N.B. anyone considering buying this Special Edition to see the 1967 Orton TV appearance Special Feature: this is NOT the full interview, just a meagre 120 seconds of it. It is outrageously misleading of ITV DVD not to make this clear, or to make clear why the excerpt is so short, seeing as many will buy this edition specifically to see this item.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed 6 Aug 2007
This is a great film that is really best seen on the big screen. It was a revelation to see it recently in the cinema since you can see all the detail of the collage in the Noel Road flat plus you realise how much of the sex scenes have been cut from the DVD version. I would say the DVD is a good 10 minutes shorter than the cinema version. Both are still mono too which is a shame since the song "By the beautiful sea!" which they sing as they run on the beach in Tangier with all the Moroccan boys would have benefitted by being in glorious stereo.
That said this is still an outstanding study of one man on the up (Orton) and another on the down (Halliwell). We only see Halliwell after he meets Orton so we see nothing of his early life during WW2, his acting in Scotland, his unpleasant father etc, but we do see the young Orton as he struggles to be an actor in Leicester. So it is a bit of a lop-sided portrayal of the two men, possibly concentrating a bit too much on Halliwell's misery. (He wasn't always like that of course.) The scenes from their flat and London life are authentic and Alan Bennett's script is just as sharp as the one he wrote for the film "A Private Function". A better film could probably be made but it would have to delve more deeply into Halliwell's early life to satisfy me. Until then this biopic by Stephen Frears will do nicely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frears and Bennett pull it off again! 6 July 2013
By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER
Prick Up Your Ears is a superb film that relishes crudeness as befits its subject. Stephen Frears has proved again and again to be one of the great directors, both prolific and varied, and he has made a number of gay interest films, including My Beautiful Laundrette and Mrs Henderson Presents - and this one. His collaboration with Alan Bennett has produced some timeless television films but this must be their biggest-scale production, and the script bristles with funny lines, so much so it is almost dangerous, you feel, there being a large dose of subversion in there too. Bennett has written brilliant scripts about other writers, namely Proust and Kafka, but this one gives him the freest rein with gay-oriented material. Gary Oldman is fantastic as Joe Orton, unbelievably sexy with his y-fronts and cheeky grin. You simply believe he is Joe Orton, possibly enhanced by this radiant sexiness. Alfred Molina is also outstanding as Kenneth Halliwell, managing to compensate for the script's bias toward Orton in terms of focus. You do feel very sorry for him, and Orton, while never sacrificing a sexual encounter, nevertheless does show some consideration, trying to set Halliwell up with tricks of his own and being fairly tolerant really with his very depressed antics. The London of the time is superbly refracted through an 80s sensibility, while the interiors - their flat, for instance - are full of interesting details, with a camera that seems to capture everything in just the right rhythm, and from the right angles, something I always find with Frears, but less and less with other directors. An episode in Morocco gives rise to more highly sexy goings-on ... Vanessa Redgrave and Julie Walters must be mentioned too for their brilliant turns, and what a pleasure to see Wallace Shawn giving the seal of excellence to the whole thing - time out from his discussions with Andre Gregory ...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good film
This film would certainly have been "more realistic" if made now. Feels a little "tame" by modern standards. Excellent cast nonetheless keep you focused.
Published 1 month ago by Merlin
5.0 out of 5 stars great
i really enjoyed this film very much it is a bit seedy but still a good film about his life.
Published 2 months ago by james
5.0 out of 5 stars Film biography of the talented playwright Joe Orton and his neuortic...
Really interesting film about a complicated and talented pair of gay men, set in the 1960's, before the Wolfendon report legalised sex in private between consenting 21 year old... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Anthony Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for Orton fans
A brilliant and accurate portrayal of the latter part of Orton's life. If you're a fan and haven't seen it, its a must.
Published 4 months ago by VivaHate72
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Drama
This is a reasonably good adaptation to the successful life of the playwright Joe Orton. Although very dark, it does have some excellent comedy moments. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Colin Wardrop
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best.
One of the best British films in my humble opinion. Funny, sad and very poignant. Hope it comes out on blu ray soon.
Published 9 months ago by The Village Bike
3.0 out of 5 stars DISAPPOINTING
I have the feeling that this copy of the film has been cut - there are certainly scenes missing from the version I have seen in the past. Very disappointing.
Published 11 months ago by Malcolm Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
A very colourful portrayal of the life of a very colourful playwrite. Well cast and produced. British cinema at it's best!
Published 14 months ago by Pete
5.0 out of 5 stars Based on a true story
This film goes back a few years, but is fascinating in respect of the love life of Leicester's famous play writer Joe Orton,
Charting his life from his home town and on to... Read more
Published 16 months ago by John
4.0 out of 5 stars Prick up your ears
This is now the second time I've watched this film on DVD and I was impressed by the special features on offer and watched two of them, which is a fairly rare thing for me to do... Read more
Published 16 months ago by SilentSinger
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