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Gwendolen's aristocratic attitude is "In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing." The trivial is important; the serious is overlooked.
Wilde gives examples again and again of the aristocrat's concern for propriety, that everything is done properly no matter what those good manners might be camouflaging.
The Absence of Compassion Two areas in which the Victorians showed little sympathy or compassion were illness and death.
How many film directors can give as their earliest address 10 Downing Street, London?
Puffin Asquith was the youngest son of Herbert Asquith (Britain’s prime minister from 1909–1916), and his socialite wife Margot (of whom Dorothy Parker said, “The love affair between Margot Asquith and Margot Asquith is a joy to behold”).
Redgrave’s Jack lights up the Technicolor screen in this rare comic performance. Joan Greenwood’s plummy-voiced Gwendolyn is one of the great comic treasures of the cinema.
So is the Cecily of the beauteous, and tragically underused, Dorothy Tutin, in her screen debut. But all their brilliance pales in the presence of the woman who was the century’s definitive Lady Bracknell: Dame Edith Evans.
“Do you expect me, a Dame of the Most Noble Order of the British Empire, to change…to alter our good English word ‘perambulator’ to ‘baby carriage’? “I positively decline to do it.” (But she did.) Fifty years later, Evans’ reading of “perambulator”—and the film’s full Technicolor beauty—is restored to all its glory.
Duty and Respectability The aristocratic Victorians valued duty and respectability above all else.
And let us not forget the tyrannical Lady Bracknell, the impediment to all the lovers’ happiness.
The play has been brought to the screen lovingly and meticulously by one of the great eccentrics of the British cinema, Anthony “Puffin” Asquith (1902-1968).