The Importance of Being Earnest

Synopsis: Two young gentlemen living in 1890's England use the same pseudonym ("Ernest") on the sly, which is fine until they both fall in love with women using that name, which leads to a comedy of mistaken identities...
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director(s): Oliver Parker
Production: Miramax Films
  2 wins & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
97 min

Hey! Hey!

There he is!

Where's he going?



You won't get away, sir!

Time to pay your debt.


Did you hear

what I was playing, Lane?

I didn't think it

polite to listen, sir.

I'm sorry for that,

for your sake.

I don't play accurately--

anyone can play accurately--

but I play with

wonderful expression.

Yes, sir.

Bills, bills, bills--

all I ever get is bills.

And then

there's the matter...

of my unpaid wages, sir.

Yet again the wasteful habits

of my brother Ernest...

tear me from my duties here.

Yes, sir.

It's a terrible nuisance,

but there's nothing to be done.

I shall return Monday afternoon.

Yes, sir.

Pay particular attention,

if you will, Miss Prism...

to her German grammar.

Yes, Mr. Worthing.

I don't suppose you've

found my cigarette case...

have you, Merriman?

We're still looking, sir.

Walk on.


Excuse me.



-How are you, my dear Ernest?

-What brings you up to town?

-Oh, pleasure, pleasure.

What else should

bring one anywhere?

Where have you been

since last Thursday?

In the country.

You're always in the country.

What on earth do you do there?

Well, when one is in town,

one amuses oneself.

When one is in the country,

one amuses other people.

It's excessively boring.

-Who are these people you amuse?

-Oh, neighbours, neighbours.

Nice neighbours in

your part of Shropshire?

Perfectly horrid.

Never speak to one of them.

How immensely

you must amuse them.

By the way, Shropshire

is your country, is it not?





Oh, yes, of course.

Say. dear boy...

What plans have you got

for tea tomorrow?

You know perfectly well...

that Aunt Augusta is

coming to tea tomorrow.

-Aunt Augusta?

-Yes. Aunt Augusta...

And Gwendolen.

How perfectly delightful.

Perhaps I might pay my respects.

Yes, that is all very well,

but I'm afraid Aunt Augusta...

won't approve

of your being there.

Why do you say that?

My dear fellow, the way

that you flirt with Gwendolen...

is perfectly disgraceful.

It's almost as bad as the way

Gwendolen flirts with you.

-I am in love with Gwendolen.


And I have come up to town

expressly to propose to her.

I thought you came up

for pleasure.

I call that business.

Oh, how utterly

unromantic you are.

I really don't see what there

is romantic about proposing.

Why, one may be accepted.

One usually is, I believe.

And then--Ha ha!--

the excitement is over.

No. The very essence of

romance is uncertainty.

Twenty-five a player.

Anyway, I certainly

can't see...

you and Gwendolen

being married.

Why on earth do you say that?

Well, in the first place,

I don't give my consent.

Your consent?

My dear fellow,

Gwendolen is my cousin...

and before I allow you

to marry her...

you shall have to clear up

this whole question of Cecily.



What on earth do you mean?

I don't know anyone

by the name of Cecily.

Do you mean you have had

my cigarette case all this time?

I wish to goodness

you had let me know.

I've been writing frantic

letters to Scotland Yard.

I was very nearly offering

a very large reward.

I wish you would offer one.

I happen to be more

than usually hard up.

It makes no matter...

for I see now the thing

isn't yours after all.

Of course it's mine.

You have seen me with it

a hundred times.

Not according

to the inscription.

And you have

no right whatsoever...

to read what is written inside.

It is a very

ungentlemanly thing...

to read

a private cigarette case.

Yes, but this isn't

your cigarette case.

This cigarette case

is a present from someone...

of the name of Cecily,

and you said...

you didn't know

anyone of that name.

Well, if you want to know,

Cecily happens to be my aunt.

Your aunt?

Yes. charming old lady

she is, too.

Lives at Tunbridge Wells.

Just give it back to me, Algy.

Yes, but why does your aunt

call you her uncle?

"From little Cecily,

with her fondest love...

"to her dear Uncle Jack."


There is no objection, I admit,

to an aunt being a small aunt...

but why an aunt, no matter

what her size may be...

should call

her own nephew her uncle...

I can't quite make out.

Besides, your name isn't

Jack at all--it's Ernest.

It isn't Ernest, it's Jack.

You've always told me

it was Ernest.

I've introduced you

to everyone as Ernest.

It is perfectly absurd your

saying your name isn't Ernest.

It's on your cards.

Here is one of them.

"Mr. Ernest Worthing,

B.4, The Albany."

Well, it is Ernest in town

and Jack in the country...

and the cigarette case

was given to me in the country.

So I've always pretended

to have a younger brother.

Ah, of the name of Ernest.

And little Cecily?

My ward, Miss Cecily Cardew.

Where is that place

in the country, by the way?

That is nothing

to you, dear boy.

You are certainly not

going to be invited.

I may tell you candidly

the place is not in Shropshire.

Oh, I suspected that,

my dear fellow...

just as I suspected you

to be a Bunburyist.

Indeed, you are one

of the most advanced...

Bunburyists I know.

See you at five.


A quick word, sir!


Cecily, your German grammar

is on the table.

Pray open it at page fifteen.

We will repeat

yesterday's lesson.

But I don't like German.

It isn't at all

a becoming language.

I know perfectly well...

I look quite plain

after my German lesson.

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Oliver Parker

Oliver Parker (born 6 September 1960) is an English film director. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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