Scandal (UK,1989) ***
Directed by Michael Caton-Jones. Written by Michael Thomas. Photography, Mike Molloy. Editing, Angus NewtonProduction design. Simon Holland. Music, Carl Davis. Cast: John Hurt, Joanne Whalley, Bridget Fonda, Ian McKellen, Leslie Phillips, Britt Ekland, et al. A Miramax release. 114 min. or 106 when some sex edited out. R.
A docudrama-like reconstitution of events which rocked Britain, climaxing with the famous/notorious Profumo scandal of 1963, one which involved a cabinet Minister John Profumo; society doctor (and procurer), weirdo and osteopath Stephen Ward (John Hurt); call-girls (though not professionally full-blown) Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies; a Soviet military attache; and many more.
John Profumo was solidly established as a major U.K political figure. When his affair with teen-age actress Keeler became public, after initial denials, he resigned as Secretary of War...and the whole Conservative government tumbled down too.
He was, by the way, in his late 40s, and married to a lovely, talented and famous British film actress.
Interesting film discloses the gay (in the old sense of swinging) life of many prominent figures, sheds light on certain British mores which hide behind facades of respectability. But it sheds little or no light on Mr. Ward. He is shown as a pathetic figure with unclear psycho-sexual motives.
Well produced and performed --in some ways, very well -- the film contains audacious scenes of sex and nudity. There is no doubt that some screen sex was mostly as a come-on to the public, but then, what is not?
Some of those sections were removed from U.S. prints, even those shown on cable TV. Videos and DVDs can give you the uncut version.
The movie was the first feature by Michael Caton-Jones. It made him instantly famous. He accepted the siren-song lure of Hollywood where he made "Memphis Belle" (awful), "Doc Hollywood" (fair), "This Boy's Life" (good), "Rob Roy" (very good), "The Jackal" (bad).