Prick Up Your Ears (1987) Movie

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Ratings / Votes
7.1/ 10 (3123 Votes)

MPAA Ratings

Production Company
Civilhand [gb]
Zenith Entertainment [gb]

Production Designer

All Producers

All Directors


Release Date
(USA) - 17 April 1987
(USA) - 8 May 1987
(Argentina) - 20 August 1987
(Japan) - 10 October 1987
(Denmark) - 6 November 1987

Running Time

They shared everything - except success.

1950s, 1960s, acting, acting-class, actor, actress, agent, air-freshener, anal-sex, art-gallery, artist, audition, australia, awards-banquet, baldness, based-on-book, beach, bench, beret, bisexual, blood, bludgeoned-to-death, bludgeoning, book, brandy,

Technical Support
OFM:35 mm
PFM:35 mm
RAT:1.85 : 1

Related Pictures

Pictures of Prick Up Your Ears (1987) Movie not found

Full Cast

  1. Adams, Simon (I) as [Undertaker's Boy]
  2. Atkins, Dave (I) as [Mr. Sugden]
  3. Bailey, John (IV) as [Wigmaker]
  4. Bill, Stephen as [George Barnett]
  5. Bradley, David (IV) as [Undertaker]
  6. Brignal, Mark as [Beatles' Chauffeur]
  7. Cardy, David as (uncredited) [Brian Epstein]
  8. Carrick, Antony as [Counsel]
  9. Cooper, Garry (I) as [1st Actor - 'Entertaining Mr Sloane']
  10. Dagmouni, Moktar as [2nd Moroccan Boy]
  11. Davis, Noel (I) as (uncredited) [Philip]
  12. De Staic, Liam as [Brickie]
  13. Douse, Anthony as [2nd BBC Actor]
  14. Dudgeon, Neil as (uncredited) [Policeman]
  15. Duggan, James (I) as [Labourer]
  16. Elgheur, Ahmed as (as Ahmed El Jheur) [1st Moroccan Boy]
  17. Grant, James (I) as [William Orton]
  18. Guinee, Christopher as [Publisher]
  19. Hooper, Robin (I) as (uncredited) [Mortuary Attendant]
  20. Ireson, Richard (I) as [Man Outside Lavatory]
  21. Jarman, Derek as (uncredited) [Patrick Proktor]
  22. Job, William as [RADA Chairman]
  23. Johnson, Karl (II) as [Douglas Orton]
  24. Kane, John (I) as [Director]
  25. Leigh, Spencer as [Constable]
  26. Lloyd-Pack, Roger as [2nd Actor - 'Entertaining Mr Sloane']
  27. MacKay, Angus (I) as [RADA Judge]
  28. Mackintosh, Steven as [Simon Ward]
  29. McKeown, Charles as [Mr. Cunliffe]
  30. Moffat, John (III) as [Wigmaker]
  31. Molina, Alfred as [Kenneth Halliwell] <2>
  32. Müller, Michael (I) as [1st BBC Actor]
  33. Oldman, Gary as [Joe Orton] <1>
  34. Parnaby, Bert as [The Magistrate] <7>
  35. Pertwee, Sean as [Orton's Friend]
  36. Phillips, Jonny as (uncredited) [Youth Outside Lavatory]
  37. Phillips, Neville as [Man in Gallery]
  38. Richard, Eric (I) as [Education Officer]
  39. Rimkus, Stevan as [Kenneth]
  40. Robin, Hooper as [Mortuary Attendant]
  41. Salthouse, John as (uncredited) [Chauffeur]
  42. Shawn, Wallace as [John Lahr] <10>
  43. Smith, Neville (I) as [Police Inspector]
  44. Stafford-Clark, Max as [Honourable President - Awards Chairman]
  45. Wilson, Richard (II) as (uncredited) [Psychiatrist]
  46. Barber, Frances as [Leonie Orton] <4>
  47. Blackburn, Jane as [1st Woman in Gallery]
  48. Cadell, Selina as [Miss Battersby]
  49. Connelly, Joanne as [Stage Manager]
  50. Dale, Janet as [Mrs. Sugden] <5>
  51. Davies, Philippa (I) as [Peggy Ramsay's Secretary]
  52. Duncan, Lindsay (I) as [Anthea Lahr] <9>
  53. Knight, Rosalind as [RADA Judge]
  54. Legrand, Julie as [Gallery Owner]
  55. Michell, Helena as [Orton's Friend]
  56. Redgrave, Vanessa as [Peggy Ramsay] <3>
  57. Richman, Stella as [2nd Woman in Gallery]
  58. Sanderson, Joan as [Anthea's Mother]
  59. Spurrier, Linda as [RADA Instructor]
  60. Thomas, Sian (I) as [Marilyn Orton]
  61. Tyzack, Margaret as [Madame Lambert] <8>
  62. Walters, Julie (I) as [Elsie Orton] <6>
  63. Wodehouse, Charlotte as [Janet]


  1. Biography
  2. Drama

Full Plot

This film is the story of the spectacular life and violent death of British playwright Joe Orton. In his teens, Orton is befriended by the older, more reserved Kenneth Halliwell, and while the two begin a relationship, it's fairly obvious that it's not all about sex. Orton loves the dangers of bath-houses and liaisons in public restrooms; Halliwell, not as charming or attractive as Orton, doesn't fare so well in those environs. While both long to become writers, it is Orton who achieves fame - his plays "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" and "Loot" become huge hits in London of the sixties, and he's even commissioned to write a screenplay for the Beatles. But Orton's success takes him farther from Halliwell, whose response ended both his life and the life of the up-and-coming playwright. Gary Dickerson Plot not found

Total Business

GR: USD 1,654,743 (USA)

Movie Certificate

18 (Argentina)
15 (UK)(re-release)
18 (UK)(original rating)
M (Australia)
R16 (New Zealand)
18 (Spain)
15 (Sweden)

Music Composers

  1. Myers, Stanley (I)


  1. Stapleton, Oliver (director of photography)

Dress Designers

  1. Ringwood, Bob


Aquarius TV [gr] - (2005) (Greece) (DVD)
Carlton Video - (1999) (UK) (VHS)
Curzon Film Distributors [gb] - (1987) (UK) (theatrical)
MGM Home Entertainment [us] - (2004) (USA) (DVD)
PVB Editions [fr] - (198??) (France) (DVD)
Pandora Filmproduktion [de] - (1987) (West Germany) (theatrical)
Park Circus [gb] - (2007) (UK) (theatrical)
Plus Video [ar] - (2010) (Argentina) (DVD)
Samuel Goldwyn Company, The [us] - (1987) (USA) (theatrical)
Umbrella Entertainment [au] - (2002) (Australia) (DVD)
Umbrella Entertainment [au] - (2011) (Australia) (video) (VOD)
Virgin Video - (1989) (UK) (VHS)
Virgin Vision [us] - (1988) (USA) (VHS) (pan and scan for Samuel Goldwyn Home Entertainment)

Film Editors

  1. Audsley, Mick


  1. Campling, Joanna (unit publicist)
  2. Coveri, Enrico (contemporary clothes designer: Ms. Redgrave)
  3. Dent, Chester (II) (directing attachment) (uncredited)
  4. Eyles, Penny (script supervisor)
  5. Fitzsimon, Gerald (assistant accountant) (as Gerard Fitzsimon)
  6. Goodman, Lorraine (production coordinator)
  7. Hammer, Vivienne (accountant secretary)
  8. Harding, Deborah (production secretary)
  9. Miller, Tony (V) (production accountant)
  10. Moseley, Simon (floor runner)
  11. Neale, Rachel (location manager)
  12. Reisz, Barney (production runner)
  13. Rothenstein, Julian (titles)
  14. Sherborne, Toby (production runner)
  15. Washington, Joan (dialogue coach)
  16. Wheeldon, Chris (location assistant)
  17. Zimmer, Hans (synthesizer)


Joe Orton: I always wanted to be an orphan. I could have, if it wasn't for my parents. Kenneth Halliwell: The whole point about irrational behavior is that it IS irrational! Kenneth Halliwell: Can you spell? Joe Orton: Yes, but not accurately. Leonie Orton: [Mingling Joe's and Ken's ashes] I think I'm putting in more of Joe than I am of Kenneth. Peggy Ramsay: It's a gesture dear, not a recipe. Kenneth Halliwell: Do you want the sardines with the rice pudding or separate? Joe Orton: With. Kenneth Halliwell: I can't remember when you last touched my cock. Well, I can actually. It was about two years ago. Only I can't remember the actual date. Pity. I could have put it in my diary. "The last time Joe touched my cock. Grouse shooting begins" Kenneth Halliwell: [preparing to dictate an offensive letter] Seat yourself at our trusty Remington, John, and we shall piss on this person from a great height. [Halliwell puts his hand on Orton's leg. Orton brushes it off] Joe Orton: No. Have a wank. Kenneth Halliwell: Have a wank? Have a wank? I can't just have a wank. I need three days' notice to have a wank. You can just stand there and do it. Me, it's like organizing D-Day. Forces have to be assembled, magazines bought, the past dredged for some suitably unsavoury episode, the dog-eared thought of which can still produce a faint flicker of desire! Have a wank, it'd be easier to raise the Titanic. Kenneth Halliwell: I just want to go to the awards! I could! Look, "Joe Orton and guest." I'd behave. I wouldn't say a word, I promise. Joe Orton: No. Kenneth Halliwell: Why? Joe Orton: Because it's for me. I wrote it. Kenneth Halliwell: I gave you the title. Joe Orton: Okay, so when they have awards for titles, you can go to that. Peggy Ramsay: Prison gives a writer credentials. John Lahr: Everyone else, it takes them away. Kenneth Halliwell: Cheap clothes suit you. It's because you're from the gutter. Kenneth Halliwell: At least you can say you've sat in the same chair as T.S. Eliot. Joe Orton: Yes, I'm never going to wipe my bum again. Mrs. Sugden: Do you notice I'm limping? Spilled a hot drink down my dress. My vagina came up like a football. Joe Orton: Some of these people are, well, having sexual intercourse. Kenneth Halliwell: Fucking, you mean? Well, what do you expect? Many of them are from Australia. Kenneth Halliwell: Writing, John, is one tenth inspiration, nine tenths... Joe Orton: Masturbation! Peggy Ramsay: Ken was the first wife. He did all the work and the waiting and then... John Lahr: Well, first wives don't usually beat their husbands' heads in. Peggy Ramsay: No. Though why I can't think. John Lahr: So what does that make you? The second wife? Peggy Ramsay: Better than that, dear. The widow. Joe Orton: [Ken and Joe are cruising a strange man] He's built like a brick shithouse! Kenneth Halliwell: He's probably a policeman. Joe Orton: I know, isn't it wonderful? Joe Orton: Have you been reading my diary? Kenneth Halliwell: No. Joe Orton: Why not? I would. Peggy Ramsay: At moments of triumph, men can do without their wives... But sharing is what wives want. Joe Orton: [accepting a drama award] My plays are about getting away with it, and the ones who get away with it are the guilty ones. It's the innocents who get it in the neck. But that all seems pretty true to life to me. Not a fantasy at all. I've got away with it *so far* [hoisting trophy] and I'm going to go on. Joe Orton: I think I'll retire. Lick my wounds. Or have them licked for me. [Orton is having his portrait painted, naked] Joe Orton: I want everyone to know I was the best developed playwright of my generation. [Paul McCartney is going to visit and Joe and Kenneth are tidying frantically] Kenneth Halliwell: This is what it must be like when one meets the Queen! Joe Orton: Except when one meets the Queen one *generally* hasn't threatened to shove one's typewriter up her arse. Counsil: [at Joe and Kenneth's trial] This is the novel "Clouds of Witness" by the noted authoress Dorothy L. Sayers. Could you read what the accused have written on the flap of the jacket? Policeman: "When little Betty McDree says that she has been interfered with, her mother at first laughs. It is only something the kiddy has picked up off the television. But when, on sorting through the laundry, Mrs McDree discovers that a new pair of Betty's knickers are missing, she thinks again. Her mother takes little Betty to the police station and, to everyone's surprise, the little girl identifies PC Brenda Coolidge as her attacker. A search is made of the Women's Police Barracks. What is found there is a seven-inch phallus and a pair of knickers of the kind used by Betty. All looks black for kindly PC Coolidge. What can she do? This is one of the most enthralling stories ever written by Miss Sayers. Read this behind closed doors..." [He pauses, embarrassed] Policeman: "... And have a good shit while you are reading." Joe Orton: I take it they [the Beatles] all sleep together... Brian Epstein: They do NOT. Joe Orton: But they're all very pretty. I imagined they just had a good time... sang, smoked, fucked everything in sight including each other. I thought that was what success meant. Anthea's Mother: [Translating the shorthand from Joe's diary] Then went into mum's bedroom and arranged the dressing table mirrors and had a lovely long slow, wink. Anthea Lahr: Wink? Are you sure that's an 'I'? Joe Orton: [Accepting the Evening Standard award] My plays are about getting away with it and the ones who get away with it are the guilty, it's the innocents who get it in the neck. That all seems pretty true to life to me, not a fantasy at all. I've, got away with it so far, and I'm going to go on. Thank You.

Other Titles

  1. Das stürmische Leben des Joe Orton (1987) (ENG)
    (West Germany)

  2. Prick Up - l'importanza di essere Joe (1987) (ENG)

  3. Stürmische Leben des Joe Orton, Das (1987) (GER)
    (West Germany)

  4. Prick Up - l'importanza di essere Joe (1987) (ITA)

Shooting/Filming Locations

  1. 25 Noel Road, Islington, London, England, UK
  2. London, England, UK
  3. Morocco
  4. Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London, England, UK
  5. Shaftesbury Avenue, London, England, UK


- Kenneth Halliwell created the title "Prick Up Your Ears" for Orton's (never produced) film for the Beatles, "Up Against It", but Orton said, "But this is much too good a title to waste on a film."

- The interior (certainly not the exterior as the real house is mid-terraced) of Joe and Ken's flat was filmed in the actual flat where Orton and Halliwell lived (25 Noel Road). However, the murder at the end is filmed on a studio set.

- The first film of 'Steven Mackintosh' (qv).

- The title is a naughty pun ("Prick" having both standard and off-color denotations and "Ears" being an anagram for the British spelling of a vulgar anatomical descriptor).

- 'Wallace Shawn' (qv), who plays John Lahr, is (in addition to being an actor) an acclaimed playwright and screenwriter. Until her 1991 death, his play agent was Peggy Ramsay, who was also 'Joe Orton (I)' (qv)'s agent and who appears in this film as the character played by 'Vanessa Redgrave' (qv).