Jack has always gone under the name of Ernest, feeling it helps make his lowly origins sound respectable. But when he proposes to Gwendolen both his future wife and her mother want to know more about his upbringing and his name
For many Edith Evans is the definitive Lady Bracknell. Her intonation of “a handbag” echoed across the land, long after the film’s 1952 release.
Anthony Asquith’s lush technicolour version makes no apologies for its stage origins, and keeps the sets simple while letting Oscar Wilde’s deliciously knowing dialogue carry the show. It’s helped by the effortless charm of the male leads. Michael Wilding, in particular - a British star whose box office power has been unmatched to this day, even by the likes of Hugh Grant - is note perfect as the scheming, yet charming Ernest, while Greenwood and Tutin are sweetly adorable. This thoroughly British cast is rounded out by the grande-dame of daffy female character roles - Margaret Rutherford as a forgetful nurse, who in any other film, would run the risk of stealing the movie.
- But that is Ms Evans job – and anyone who can’t even feel the touch of a smile as she gears up for her big moment by rounding out the word “found” into five syllables, is better off wallowing in some Ken Loach instead. *
Edith Evans is the Lady Bracknell that every actress since has had to live up to.