The Importance of Being Earnest [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1952]

Comedy comes in full swing with the 1952 adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Criterion's work on the film's original 1.33:1 full-frame version is nothing less than great. Sporting vibrant colors and dark black levels, this is a superior looking image that includes only a few slight imperfections (edge enhancement and grain). Overall fans should be very pleased with the effort put forth on this picture. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 in English and often sounds confined and flat. However, considering the film's age, the soundtrack is top-notch shape without nary a hint of distortion or hiss in the mix. Also included on this disc are English subtitles. Unfortunately, the buck stops here when it comes to substantial extra features on this DVD. The only supplements included on The Importance of Being Earnest are some production notes and a theatrical trailer for the movie.
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Special Features

  • Digital transfer
  • Rare production stills with notes by film historian Bruce Eder
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired


The Importance of Being Earnest
Anthony Asquith's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's witty play of mistaken identities stars Michael Redgrave as rich bachelor Jack Worthing. Jack's friend is Algernon Moncrieft (Michael Denison), a poor bloke living on credit. Jack refers mysteriously to Algernon about his country retreat, which drives Algernon to distraction, trying to figure out where Jack goes on the weekends. Jack is also in love with Algernon's attractive cousin Gwendolen (Joan Greenwood). He also has a ward, Cecily Cardew (Dorothy Tutin), who lives at the country estate and studies with local spinster Miss Prism (Margaret Rutherford). When Algernon learns of Cecily, he arrives at the country home claiming to be Jack's brother Earnest, knowing Jack had previously regaled Cecily with tales of having to bail the fictitious Earnest out of scrapes so he could sneak out to the city. Having set her eyes on "Earnest" in the flesh after having heard countless tales of his intrigues, Cecily immediately falls in love with Earnest. Meanwhile, Jack comes back to the country dressed in black, determined to announce to the group the demise of the fictional Earnest. As a result, Jack is stupefied when he sees Earnest standing in front of him. Meanwhile, Algernon's aunt, Lady Bracknell (Edith Evans) refuses to grant permission for Jack and Gwendolen's engagement. However, when Lady Bracknell finds out that Algernon is in love with Cecily, she asks Jack for his blessing on their marriage. Of course, Jack won't give his blessing until Lady Bracknell gives her blessing to his proposed marriage to Gwendolen. All is at a standstill until Lady Bracknell recognizes Miss Prism as a governess from the past who holds secrets concerning both Jack and Algernon. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Michael Redgrave
    Michael Redgrave - Jack Worthing
  • Edith Evans
    Edith Evans - Lady Bracknell
  • Michael Denison
    Michael Denison - Algernon Moncrieff
  • Dorothy Tutin
    Dorothy Tutin - Cecily Cardew
  • Margaret Rutherford
    Margaret Rutherford - Miss Prism

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