Superb Alan Bennett Adaptation
Alan Bennett, who wrote the delightful play, "The History Boys," later filmed to international success, took a fine biography by John Lahr, "New Yorker" contributor and son of the man who created the Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz," and turned it into one of the most astonishingly original biopics in the genre's history. In his introduction to the screenplay, he explains that producers in Hollywood were reluctant to take it on -- it's about the homosexual playwright Joe Orton and his murderously jealous lover -- and when one film company agreed to do it they said they'd have to take out the homosexuality. Bennett refused, and the resulting movie was one of the most in-your-face accounts of a gay man in all film. Especially as played by such an ensemble cast headed by Gary Oldman as Orton, Alfred Molina as Kenneth Halliwell, and the great Vanessa Redgrave as Orton's agent, the movie is a dazzling and disturbing account of a poisonous relationship between an artist and his shadow half. Bennett's screenplay, one of the best I've come across, is a lesson in film writing for anyone interested in the practice. First rate!