Scandal

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Caton-Jones' first feature is a serious, almost low-key affair, strong on period detail and imbued with a sense of genuine outrage on behalf of both the ruined Stephen Ward (Hurt) and the deranged and derailed Christine Keeler (Whalley-Kilmer) which lifts it above the merely exploitative. Both main performances are strong at the core of a still compelling story (Hurt in particular, a riveting jumble of weakness, seediness, vanity and kindness). Less satisfying are McKellen's Profumo, who looks more like a samurai warrior than a war minister; Bridget Fonda's Mandy Rice-Davies, and Jean Alexander's Mrs Keeler, who seem to have succumbed to the cutting-room jitter machine. Others must decide on the propriety of this cinematic exhumation; for those who weren't around at the time of the scandal in the early '60s, and even for those who were, it certainly makes dismaying if illuminating viewing.

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Cast and crew

Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Screenwriter: Michael Thomas
Cast: John Hurt
Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
Bridget Fonda
Ian McKellen
Leslie Phillips
Britt Ekland
Daniel Massey
Roland Gift
Jean Alexander
Ronald Fraser
Jeroen Krabbe