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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Directed by Michael Caton-Jones
Anchor Bay Entertainment 04/89 DVD/VHS Feature Film
The private sins of politicians are still public news and all over the world there is still an eager audience for details about the lives of the rich and the famous. This English movie written by Michael Thomas and directed by Michael Caton-Jones focuses on the 1963 Profumo sex scandal which resulted in the downfall of Harold Macmillan's Conservative government.
Joanne Whalley-Kilmer plays Christine Keeler, a working-class seventeen-year-old showgirl who is taken under the wings of Dr. Stephen Ward (John Hurt), an osteopath who wants to introduce her to his high-class friends. This social climber sees himself as a liberated hedonist in the swinging Sixties. "Everybody's afraid to enjoy themselves or they're too afraid to admit it," he tells his glamorous young protege who moves in with him along with her friend Mandy Rice-Davies (Bridget Fonda).
Ward introduces Christine to John Profumo (Ian McKellen), who is an ambitious Conservative M.P. and war minister. Keeler begins an affair with him and when it runs its course, she turns to more exotic relationships with two West Indians. Ward kicks her out and she sings to the press about her escapades. In order to divert public attention from themselves, Ward's high society friends convince the police to bring him to trial for living on the immoral earnings of prostitution.
Scandal is not really so much about sex, politics, or pleasure seeking as it is about the power of the English upper class to have its own way and call it moral. Or as Oscar Wilde once put it, "Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we don't like."
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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