Well I guess that is a matter of opinion. However, it is not easy to outperform the BBC. This is a great collection from "The BBC play of the Month" Series.
It is not so much the stories of Oscar Wilde but the witty dialog and moldered attitude that make his plays stand out. In this case, the whit is perfectly delivered by the excellent cast. Each play brings with it a moral and an enriching ending.
"The Importance of Being Earnest"
This play has been played and copied by many of the well and not so well known actors. It would be strange not to have it preformed on a local stage. So before watching this "BBC Play of the Month" production you will come into it with a certain expectation and standard. Found Coral Browne's who also is in "Lady Windermere's Fan", acting clearly overshadows that of the other actors. The big advantage of this production is that it is a play and everyone knows it.
Jack Worthing (Michael Jayston) a gentleman by adoption makes frequent visits to the town to visit his fictitious brother Earnest. There as Ernest he can be unscrupulous at will. That is until he meets Algernon Moncrieff's (Julian Holloway) cousin and falls in love. As luck would have it, Algernon's cousin Gwendolen Fairfax (Gemma Jones) was always in love with the name Ernest. Now Jack must tell Algernon what he has been up to. Algernon seizes the opportunity while Jack is in the town, to play his mysterious brother Earnest. Now Algernon falls in love with Jack's ward, Cecily Cardew (Celia Bannerman) of who mysteriously has always been in love with Ernest.
Oh what a tangled web we weave. How can either Earnest explained that he is not Ernest and is this true? On top of this Algernon's aunt, Lady Bracknell insists that Gwendolen can only marry a true gentleman by birth. Keep an eye on Miss Prism (Lally Bowers.)
"The Picture of Dorian Gray"
Who wants to look young forever? Basil Hallward (Jeremy Brett), who up until now was a mediocre painter. after meeting Dorian Gray (Peter Firth) a young Adonis, was inspired to create a masterpiece of which he puts himself into. Against Basil's wishes, Basil's friend Lord Henry Wotton (John Gielgud) influences Dorian Gray. Dorian looks at his portrait and realizes that while the portrait will stay young forever, he will grow old; so Dorian makes a wish that if only he could stay young forever and the portrait can age.
At first Dorian does not realize his wishes been granted. He falls in love with a beautiful young actor Sibyl Vane (Judi Bowker) who is every woman that Shakespeare ever wrote about. Once again, due to Lord Henry's influence, he realizes that she is just a common girl.
Starting with absent-minded acts Dorian slowly sinks into debauchery. Moreover, with every new act his picture becomes more grotesque while Dorian stays is young and as innocent looking as the day his picture was painted. What will become of Dorian? What will become of Dorian's painting? What would you do if you were Dorian?
Oscar Wilde paints a picture himself as he describes Dorian Gray's dilemma. In addition, we as viewers of the play travel with Dorian as each decision are made. In this version of Oscar Wilde's play, we can see how truly evil Dorian is without compromise. We find that each detail is necessary to set the next scene.
Oscar Wilde himself led a risky life that lead to a jail sentence; is attitudes can be seen in the dialogues in this BBC play.
I found Peter Firth a tad too young for the part. I was surprised to see Judi Bowker in the play and was a little disappointed that she did not get as much time in as Angela Lansbury did in the Hurd Hatfield version. But this story workd much better as a stage play than a movie.
A politician Sir Robert Chiltern (Keith Michell) has a past that is about to catch up to him and poses a threat to his standing in the community. What is worse it may destroy his standing and an ideal husband thus loosing the live of his idealizing wife (Dinah Sheridan.) Can his best friend Viscount Goring (Jeremy Brett) who appears ditsy on the surface save Robert's bacon? Will Goring fall into the same perfect husband trap?
"Lady Windermere's Fan"
I am a fan of "Lady Windermere's Fan" It is Lady Windermere's (Judy Geeson) birthday. She will be holding a small dance. Others considered it a ball. Her husband Lord Windermere (Ronald Hines) gave her a fan with her name Margaret written on it. Her friend The Duchess of Berwick (Siân Phillips) informs Lady Windermere that she is the last person to find out that her husband has a penchant for Margaret's. Yep, he had been seen coming and going from Mrs. Margaret Erlynne's (Coral Browne) apartment. Rumor has it the he paid for the apartment and is helping her to enter society. If Margaret comes to Margaret's ball she is sure to charm and smarm others including the wealthy widower Lord Augustus Lorton "Tubby" (Charles Gray.) The trick is to keep an eye on Margaret's fan, as you never know where it will turn up.
"The life and loves of Oscar wild"
Full of soundbites and no real consistency. Occasionally there is a good piece of music. Now and then, there is a fact or two of interest but there is so much chaff that it is not worth the effort to plod through.