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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hurt delivers standout performance.
I remember the first time I saw Quentin Crisp was in a half hour TV documentary that aired a year or so before the Naked Civil Servant made him into a minor phenomenon. There was this strange and rather exotic creature, somewhat resembling a stately Edwardian great aunt, trawling his index finger through an avalanche of house dust and delivering his famous message of hope...
Published on 11 Jan 2010 by Guy Mannering

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25 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing sequel
I once played as Quentin Crisp's support act in Baltimore MA, and later took him to lunch in New York - one of the freebies he never refused. So I knew the great man close up. There were two things which struck me. One was his elusiveness, largely created by the fact that he always, on his own admission, reflected back the person or people that he was with; you felt...
Published on 29 Dec 2009 by Peter Scott-presland


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hurt delivers standout performance., 11 Jan 2010
By 
Guy Mannering (Maidenhead, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: An Englishman in New York [2009] [DVD] (DVD)
I remember the first time I saw Quentin Crisp was in a half hour TV documentary that aired a year or so before the Naked Civil Servant made him into a minor phenomenon. There was this strange and rather exotic creature, somewhat resembling a stately Edwardian great aunt, trawling his index finger through an avalanche of house dust and delivering his famous message of hope to the housewives of England, whilst quaffing a dietary drink which he observed looked like wallpaper paste, tasted like wallpaper paste, but contained all the essential nutrients to sustain one without food (no wonder in later life he never refused a free lunch or party!) When The Naked Civil Servant appeared circa 1975, John Hurt's performance confirmed the impression that Crisp was a strange and startling entity.

This account of Crisp's later years in America, where he found modest fame and fortune, was greeted with rather tepid enthusuasm by the critics when it aired recently on TV. They observed it didn't have the impact of The Naked Civil Servant and lacked its freshness, its edginess and often savage humour. But perhaps this was inevitable. By the time Crisp died he seemed a rather cosy and familiar figure. When a few years back he delivered his "alternative queen's speech" on Christmas day TV we no longer stared in wide-eyed fascination. The world had changed and for Crisp it had become a friendlier, gentler place, poverty and struggle were things of the past. Only Crisp himself did not change very much, he remained brave and true to himself (often to the point of foolhardiness as in his waspish dismissal of AIDS as a gay fad.) So inevitably An Englishman in New York lacks some of the ingredients that made The Naked Civil Servant so compelling. But Hurt's second essay at Crisp is, if anything, even finer than his first. Here he has morphed into the aging Crisp so that the two seem indistiguishable in one's mind. It's a joy to hear him deliver in Crisp's measured monotone his contrarian aphorisms. Crisp's wit and wisdom often sound well-rehearsed but his material was so good that I imagine Oscar Wilde would have shown little hesitation in stealing it. And as the penny-pinching, raddled nonagenarian Crisp still surrounded by an avalanche of dust in slummy surroundings, Hurt achieves a degree of poignancy and pathos that one suspects the unsentimental Crisp seldom evoked in real life.

An enjoyable film, then, chiefly due to Hurt's standout performance. But the supporting cast is pretty good, especially Jonathan Tucker who gives an intense and moving performance as the gauche and rather tortured artist whom Crisp befriends and helps before his early death. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the remarkable Mr Crisp, 22 Jan 2014
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: An Englishman in New York [2009] [DVD] (DVD)
An Englishman in New York is an enjoyable ride through the 1980s in New York in the company of Quentin Crisp, who suddenly went there on an invitation to appear on TV. Starring John Hurt in the role he made famous about three decades earlier, the wit and lack of concern with what people think make him a refreshing character, if at times a little trying. He is certainly stubborn about retracting a comment he made in public about Aids, but behind the scenes gave a lot of money subsequently to Aids Research without anyone knowing. He was a man of contradictions, not least of which was his much-vaunted solitude and detachment set against his support for the struggling artist Patrick Angus, which makes up a longish central section of the film.

Angus was a sweet, sweet man (as played by Jonathan Tucker) and his paintings were remarkable, as a monograph from GMP goes to prove. It is wonderful to see the pictures here in his studio - obviously they're not the originals but you see them from too far to notice - and to hear this wonderful young man muse on his low expectations of life and love, and be gently borne up by Crisp's concern. It was Crisp who got him an exhibition, on the back of a magazine article that appeared through Crisp's employer Phillip Steele (he wrote film reviews). Sadly, Angus died of Aids just as his painting seemed to be taking off; a scene in a nightclub showed his tender advance brutally rejected, yet there was something angelic about him. Crisp appeared quite a lot on stage in New York, which was clearly a city he loved. We hear many of his famed utterances, and see a lot of street life from that period, including a sexy guy on roller skates in micro-shorts, some hunks shirtless in clubs and various other eye candy, all filled out with club hits from the period. If it betrays its TV origins it is nevertheless a lively film to watch - perhaps a little like Jeffrey, but less anarchic - and Hurt is very expressive and compelling in the lead role, using his marvellous voice to the full.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Further Tales Of A Gentle Man, 3 Jan 2010
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: An Englishman in New York [2009] [DVD] (DVD)
I am curious as to what may have brought you here?

I am hoping your motivation may include
at least one kind thought for the subject
(and hero) of this very fine film.

Mr Crisp is a conundrum.
I have read many accounts of meetings with the
man but few that have come even remotely close
to approximating what it was like to know him.

That he put his foot in it on more than one
occasion (AIDS and Princess Dianna to name
but two) is, of course, well known.
That he fully understood the import that his
statements might have made is less clear.

It seems, to me, possible that some form of
high-functioning autism might account for many
aspects of his elusive persona. The repetitive
sterotypy of his stories; his monotonous diction;
the lack of ability to consider the impact that his
views might have on the feelings of others and his
uncompromising eccentricity are all strong indicators
for such a hypothesis.

That these quirks of being were also his strength,
shield and salvation should be an example to us all.

Mr Crisp was a Gentleman (first and foremost) but he
was also a gentle man. Although he did not suffer fools
gladly he was both generous with his time and able to
both give and take from those that he felt able to trust.

That Mr Hurt felt able to revisit his remarkable
personification of this iconic figure is a generous act.
Brian Fillis' script and Richard Laxton's sensitive
direction bring Mr Crisp to life with warmth and honesty.

The observational detail in Mr Hurt's portrayal is uncanny.
He is, indeed, Mr Crisp's "representative on earth".

Affectionate representations of his literary agent Connie Clausen
(Swoozie Kurtz); the performance artiste Penny Arcade (Cynthia
Nixon); the young painter Patrick Angus (Jonathan Tucker) and
the complex Steele/Ward amalgam (Denis O'Hare) are all
sympathetically and beautifully drawn.
The contents of his squalid abode, right down to the self-assembly
steel bookshelf and two-ring electric hotplate are spot-on.

That Mr Crisp finally found a home (and home it truly was!)
in New York City is a testament to his belief in himself.
That he felt obliged (actually somewhat pressured) to make a
final return to the country of his birth was unwarrantably sad.

He most certainly would not have wanted to die here!

A wonderful film about the last years of a quite extraordinary man.

Essential.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Closure, 8 July 2014
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Loved it..One sort of gets closure from The naked civil servant..
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4.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC, 5 Mar 2014
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This review is from: An Englishman in New York [2009] [DVD] (DVD)
THIS IS THE SECOND PART OF THE "NAKED CIVIL SERVANT"OR THE SECOND STAGES OF HIS CAREER,VERY FUNNY AND RAW AND EVEN SAD AS HE SEEMS TO LOOSE HIS FOCUS ,VERY GOOD JOHN HURT AND WORTH THE MONEY
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hurt, 21 Jun 2013
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This review is from: An Englishman in New York [2009] [DVD] (DVD)
A brilliant film,John Hurt plays the part as he usually does,with a flair of brilliance,the story is one that has been written to suit,and,yet
not insult.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I was pleased with this DVD on the price and delivery, 14 Mar 2013
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This review is from: An Englishman in New York [2009] [DVD] (DVD)
I was pleased with the purchase of this DVD. The price was what I was happy to pay. I would fully recommend
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, beautiful, genius., 2 Feb 2013
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This review is from: An Englishman in New York [2009] [DVD] (DVD)
Quentin Crisp was a phenomenon I sadly never got to personally witness, as he died two years before I was even born, let alone become concerned with any of the things he was talking about, and yet even today I think he has resonances with culture, particularly in his beloved New York. The film itself is riveting and just so fun. Rare it is that I am so completely spellbound by a single film. This is a must watch for... everyone, basically.
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25 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing sequel, 29 Dec 2009
By 
This review is from: An Englishman in New York [2009] [DVD] (DVD)
I once played as Quentin Crisp's support act in Baltimore MA, and later took him to lunch in New York - one of the freebies he never refused. So I knew the great man close up. There were two things which struck me. One was his elusiveness, largely created by the fact that he always, on his own admission, reflected back the person or people that he was with; you felt that back in his own room, without company or at least an audience, he would disappear. The other was his hardness. I don't mean his stern, clear-eyed view of the world; rather, his personal hardness - no-one would ever be allowed to get anywhere near him. The year I was in Baltimore (1986) he acted as Grand Marshal of the Baltimore Gay Pride March, a kind of Fairy Godmother in a coach-and-four. This despite his strictures about various forms of gay activism, including gay pride. He did it because he was paid for it.

So I watched this DVD with great interest, to see if it was the Crisp I remembered. The answer was yes and no. John Hurt's second reincarnation as Crisp - and it is far, far more than a mere performance - is uncanny and a joy to behold. However, the suggestion of a heart lurking not so far beneath the imperious surface seemed foreign to the man I met. There were also two moments which rang false to me. One was a scene in which Phillip Steele, the editor of New York Native, the nearest thing to a friend, is striding down the street with 76-year-old Crisp, who is almost running to keep up. Crisp would never have hurried his stately pace, he would expect you to slow to his pace. The other is the last scene in his flat, where he is finally persuaded to toss the myriad invitations coming through his letter box into the waste paper basket. It's presented as a kind of release, greeted with joy; Crisp laughs ecstatically. I can believe in the last few months of his life he had to draw his horns in, but I can't see that it would be anything but a source of heartbreak for a man who lived for the attention, however much he may have professed to weary of it. Significantly, in that moment of laughter John Hurt is least like Crisp and most like Hurt.

But leaving aside whether it is true, is it any good as a movie? Hurt's performance aside, I would say so-so. The problem is - where's the conflict? Once Crisp ceased to be a pioneer and became just another sideshow in a city full of sideshows, it has largely to be manufactured round his response to the early AIDS crisis, and his realisation through the illness and death of a young gay painter to whom he becomes a mentor that this is more than a fad. The ending, on his final show in Florida, is solidly upbeat, as if Crisp had become again a pioneering inspiration. Where I think Crisp is moving and even heroic is in his solid refusal to countenance old age, to keep up the image and pile on the slap in spite of a horrendous series of ailments. I think more focus on this would have created a grittier, more demanding movie.

I appreciate that in order to turn a life into a movie, it is necessary to shape and take liberties, but this feels manufactured by someone who has been to scriptwriting classes and is determined to fit the life into a three-act structure of a slightly old-fashioned kind. It reminds me of 1950s biopics like "The Five Pennies". Probably Crisp himself would have liked it.

This is a feelgood movie, where "The Naked Civil Servant" was brave and challenging. I can't help feeling it's a decline, and a decline which reflects a general decline in television and our appetite for thought.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Film distorts his life in America, 29 Jan 2010
This review is from: An Englishman in New York [2009] [DVD] (DVD)
John Hurt as usual gives a superb performance as Quentin Crisp and should be applauded for it.

However this movie gives a very distorted view of Quentin's years in America.
Yes he did indeed cause a rift between himself and many in the gay community with his remarks about AIDS. However in the film the consequences of this are grossly exagerated. Quentin was never sitting in his room waiting for the phone to ring, or walking around New York alone and dejected. His shows weren't cancelled. Connie Claussen (His American literary agent) never stopped working with him. The two were inseparable friends, meeting once a week for dinner until Connie's untimely death at 74.
The character of Philip Steele in the movie is an amalgam of two of his closest friends, Phillip Ward and Tom Steele. Neither men ever refused to work with or spent time with Quentin (ever!).

In the film you are given the impression that the Philip Steele character was his only friend in those last years. Quentin had many, many friends, who met with him regularly.

In the movie you get the impression that the last show which Quentin did before his fatal trip to England was a one-off which he was glad to get. Nothing could be further from the truth. Quentin was extremely busy right up to the end. Even during the last few years of his life he appeared in over a dozen movies and travelled throughout America. On his nintieth birthday he started a six-week run at The Intar Theatre in New York and continued to perform his show throughout that last year of his life.

I understand that to make a movie interesting there has to be some kind of drama, some form of conflict/journey for the main character. But it is unfortunate that this movie took the path it did. It will give those who do/did not know Quentin a very false and distorted view of his last years in America and I fear will do his memory great harm.

A great pity!
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