A breezy yet serious docudrama about the notorious John Profumo-Christine Keeler sexual scandal of 1963 that shook England’s Conservative government, written by Michael Thomas and directed by Michael Caton-Jones. At the center of this complex but deftly conveyed intrigue is the ambiguous figure of Dr. Stephen Ward (John Hurt), a society osteopath, portrait artist, and hedonist whose discovery and cultivation of Keeler, coupled with his friendly liaison with British intelligence, set all the essential wheels in motion. Hurt is at his best in suggesting the contradictory layers of this man, who proved to be the establishment’s scapegoat in the affair, but another part of what makes this movie so absorbing is its heady celebration of London during this period, as well as a healthy enjoyment of the erotic elementsdemonstrating overall that good, trashy fun doesn’t necessarily entail dumbness or irresponsibility. With Joanne Whalley-Kilmer as Keeler, Bridget Fonda as her friend and fellow playgirl Mandy Rice-Davies, Ian McKellen as Profumo, Leslie Phillips as Lord Astor, and Britt Ekland as the orgiastic party thrower Mariella Novotny. (JR)

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