Classic comic drama based on Oscar Wilde's play about two bachelors who each pretend to be the dashing but wholly imaginary Ernest when courting two ladies.
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ORCHESTRA TUNES UP
MAN SINGS: "La Donna E Mobile"
# La la-la la la la
# La la la la-la
# La la-la la laaaaaaaaaa...
# La la-la-la pom pom! #
Eating as usual, I see, Algy.
I believe it is usual in good society
to take some slight refreshment after morning exercise.
And what brings you to London, my dear Ernest?
Oh, pleasure. Pleasure. What else should bring one anywhere?
Where have you been since last Thursday?
In the country.
What on earth do YOU do there?
When one is in town, one amuses oneself.
When one is in the country, one amuses other people.
-Who are the people you amuse?
-Oh, neighbours. Neighbours.
Got nice neighbours in your part of Shropshire?
Perfectly horrid. Never speak to them.
How immensely you must amuse them.
Shropshire IS your county, is it not?
Shropshire? Yes, of course.
By the way... Gwendolen is in town, isn't she?
She is. In fact, she's having tea with me this afternoon.
How perfectly delightful.
And so is Aunt Augusta.
You know, the way you flirt with Gwendolen
is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts with you.
I am in love with Gwendolen.
I have come up to town expressly to propose to her.
I thought you'd come up on pleasure. I call that business.
How utterly unromantic you are.
I really don't see anything romantic in proposing.
Very romantic to be in love
but there's nothing romantic about a definite proposal.
One may be accepted!
One usually is, I believe.
Then the whole excitement is over.
The very essence of romance is uncertainty.
If ever I get married, I shall certainly try and forget the fact.
I've no doubt about that, my dear Algy.
The divorce court was invented for people like you.
Divorces are made in heaven. Marriages are...
Oh, well, there's no use my speculating on that subject...
or indeed your speculating on marrying Gwendolen.
Why on earth do you say that?
Well, firstly, girls never marry the men they flirt with.
-That is nonsense.
-It isn't. It's a great truth.
Accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors one sees all over the place.
Secondly, I don't give my consent.
My dear fellow, Gwendolen is my first cousin.
And before I allow you to marry her,
you will have to clear up the whole question of Cecily.
What on earth do you mean?
What do you mean, Algy, by Cecily? I...I don't know anyone named Cecily.
You mean you've had my cigarette case all this time?
I wish you'd let me know.
I've been writing frantic letters to Scotland Yard.
-I nearly offered a large reward.
-I wish you would.
I'm more than usually hard-up.
It's no good offering a large reward now it's found.
I think that's rather mean, Ernest.
Ah, well, it makes no matter.
For now that I look at the inscription,
I find the thing isn't yours after all.
Well, of course it's mine! You've seen me with it many times!
You have no right to read what is inside.
It is very ungentlemanly to read a private cigarette case.
It's absurd to have a rule about what one should and shouldn't read.
Half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read.
I don't propose to discuss modern culture with you.
One shouldn't talk of it in private.
-I simply want my cigarette case...
But this ISN'T your cigarette case.
This cigarette case is a present from someone of the name of Cecily.
You said you knew no-one of that name.
-Well, if you want to know...
..Cecily happens to be my aunt.
Charming old lady she is too. Lives at Tunbridge Wells.
But why does she call herself Cecily
if she is your aunt and lives in Tunbridge Wells?
"From LITTLE Cecily with her fondest love."
My dear fellow, what on earth is there in that?
Some aunts are tall, some aunts are not tall.
That is surely a matter an aunt may decide for herself.
For heaven's sake, give me my cigarette case!
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, whatever her size, should call her nephew her uncle I can't make out.
Besides, your name isn't Jack at all. It is Ernest.
It isn't Ernest. It's Jack.
You have always told me it was Ernest.
You're the most earnest-looking person I ever saw in my life.
It's absurd you saying your name isn't Ernest.
It's on your cards - here is one.
"Mr Ernest Worthing, B4, The Albany."
I shall keep this as proof that your name is Ernest
if ever you attempt to deny the fact to me, Gwendolen or anyone.
My name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country.
The case was given me in the country.
That doesn't explain why your small Aunt Cecily from Tunbridge Wells
calls you her dear uncle.
Come on - much better have the thing out.
My dear Algy, you talk exactly like a dentist.
I may mention that I have always suspected...
..and now I am quite sure,
that you are a confirmed and secret Bunburyist.
What on earth do you mean by "Bunburyist"?
I will reveal to you the meaning of that incomparable expression
when you are kind enough to tell me
why you are Ernest in town and Jack in the country.
Well, produce my cigarette case first.
Here it is.
Now produce your explanation.
And pray make it improbable.
There's nothing improbable about my explanation at all.
Old Mr Thomas Cardew, who adopted me when I was a little boy,
made me in his will guardian to his granddaughter, Miss...Cecily Cardew.
Cecily - who addresses me as Uncle out of motives of respect
which you could not possibly appreciate -
lives at my place in the country
under the charge of her admirable governess, Miss Prism.
Where is that place in the country, by the way?
That is nothing to you, dear boy. You are not going to be invited.
I may tell you candidly that it is NOT in Shropshire.
I suspected that.
I have Bunburyed all over Shropshire on two separate occasions.
Well, go on.
When one is placed in the position of guardian,
one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects.
It is one's duty to do so.
And as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much
to either one's health or one's happiness,
in order to get up to town, I have pretended to have a younger brother named Ernest
who lives here in The Albany and gets into the most dreadful scrapes.
THAT, my dear Algy, is the whole truth.
Oh, no. What you really are is a Bunburyist.
I was perfectly right in saying you are a Bunburyist.
You are one of the most advanced Bunburyists I know.
What on earth do you mean?
You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest
so you may come to London whenever you like.
I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury
so I may go down to the country whenever I choose.
Bunbury really is invaluable.
If it wasn't for Bunbury's extraordinary bad health, for instance,
I couldn't dine with you at Willis's tonight,
for I have really been engaged to dine at Aunt Augusta's for more than a week.
I haven't asked you to dine with me.
I know. You are absurdly careless about sending out invitations.
It's very foolish of you.
Nothing annoys people more than NOT receiving invitations.
Algy... DOOR CLOSES
SINGS "LA DONNA E MOBILE"
Seton, I shall require a fresh gardenia this afternoon at...
four o'clock precisely.
Very good, sir.
CONTINUES SINGING TO HIMSELF
Ethel! Come here!
SINGING FROM BUILDING
-Thank you, guv'nor.
MAN SINGS "LA DONNA E MOBILE"
FINISHES SONG DRAMATICALLY
Did you hear what I was singing, Lane?
I didn't think it polite to listen, sir.
Sorry about that, for your sake.
I don't sing in tune. Anybody can sing in tune.
-But I sing with wonderful feeling.
You HAVE got the cucumber sandwiches for Lady Bracknell?
-Excuse me, sir.
ERNEST: Have Lady Bracknell and Miss Fairfax arrived yet?
Mr Ernest Worthing.
Jack! Don't seem to remember inviting you.
No. You're absurdly careless about sending out invitations.
Why such reckless extravagance in one so young?
Don't you touch them. They're ordered specially for Aunt Augusta.
-You're eating them.
-That's quite different.
She is my aunt.
Have some bread and butter.
-Bread and butter is for Gwendolen.
Gwendolen is devoted to bread and butter.
And very good bread and butter it is too.
You needn't eat as if you'd eat it all.
You behave as if you were married to her already.
You are not, and I don't think you ever will be.
Algy... DOORBELL JANGLES
That must be Aunt Augusta.
Only relatives or creditors ever ring in that Wagnerian manner.
Now, if I remove her for ten minutes in order that you may propose to Gwendolen,
may I dine with you at Willis's tonight?
I suppose so. If you want to.
You must be serious about it. People must be serious about meals.
Lady Bracknell and Miss Fairfax.
Good afternoon, dear Algernon. I hope you are behaving very well.
I'm feeling very well, Aunt Augusta.
Yes, that's not quite the same thing.
In fact, the two things rarely go together.
Oh. How do you do, Mr Worthing?
Dear me, Gwendolen, you are smart.
I am always smart.
Aren't I, Mr Worthing?
You are quite perfect, Miss Fairfax.
Oh, I hope I am not that.
It would leave no room for development.
And I intend to develop in many directions.
Gwendolen! Won't you come and sit here, Gwendolen?
Thank you, Mama. I am quite comfortable where I am.
I'm sorry if we are a little late, Algernon.
I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury.
I hadn't been there since her poor husband's death.
I never saw a woman so altered.
She looks quite 20 years younger.
And now I'll have a cup of tea
and one of those nice cucumber sandwiches you promised me.
Certainly, Aunt Augusta.
Good heavens, Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches?
I ordered them specially.
There were no cucumbers in the market this morning, sir.
I went down twice.
-No, sir. Not even for ready money.
Thank you, Lane. That will do.
I am greatly distressed, Aunt Augusta,
about there being no cucumbers, not even for ready money.
Well, it really makes no matter, Algernon.
I had some crumpets with Lady Harbury,
who seems to me to be living entirely for pleasure now.
I hear her hair has turned quite gold from grief.
Well, it certainly has changed its colour.
From what cause, I, of course, cannot say.
Forgive me, Aunt Augusta, I'm afraid I shall have to
give up the pleasure of dining with you tonight.
Oh, I hope not, Algernon. T'would put my table completely out.
Well, the fact is, I have just had a telegram to say
my poor friend...Bunbury is very ill again.
They seem to think I should be there.
I must say, I should be much obliged if you would ask Mr Bunbury from me
not to have a relapse on Saturday
for I rely on you to arrange my music for me.
It is my last reception
and one wants something that will encourage conversation,
particularly at the end of the season
when everybody has practically said whatever they had to say.
Which, in most cases, was probably not much.
I will speak to Bunbury, Aunt Augusta, if he is still conscious.
I think I can promise you he will be all right by Saturday.
Of course, the music is a great difficulty
but I will run over the programme I've worked out
if you'll come into the other room.
Thank you, Algernon. That's very thoughtful of you.
I'm sure the programme will be delightful...
after a few expurgations.
French songs I cannot possibly allow.
People always seem to think they are improper,
and either look shocked, which is vulgar,
or laugh, which is worse.
Now, German sounds a thoroughly respectable language.
And indeed I believe is so.
Gwendolen, you will accompany me.
< Well, here is the programme, Aunt Augusta...
Charming day it has been, Miss Fairfax.
Pray don't talk to me about the weather, Mr Worthing.
Whenever people talk to me about the weather,
I always feel quite certain they mean...something else.
And it makes me so nervous.
-I do mean...something else.
-I thought so.
In fact, I'm never wrong.
I would like to be allowed to take advantage of Lady Bracknell's temporary absence.
I would advise you to do so.
Mama has a way of returning suddenly to a room
that I have often had to speak to her about.
Ever since I met you, I have admired you more than any girl I have ever met...
since I met you.
Yes. I am quite aware of the fact.
And I often wish that, in public at any rate, you would be more demonstrative.
For me, you have always had an irresistible fascination.
Even before I met you, I was far from indifferent to you.
We live - as I hope you know, Mr Worthing - in an age of ideals.
And my ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Ernest.
There is something in that name which inspires absolute confidence.
The moment Algernon first mentioned to me he had a friend called Ernest...
..I knew I was destined to love you.
You really...love me, Gwendolen?
You don't know how happy you've made me.
My own Ernest!
You don't mean to say you couldn't love me if my name wasn't Ernest?
-But your name IS Ernest.
-Yes, I know it is, but...
supposing it wasn't.
Supposing it was...something else.
Do you mean to say you couldn't love me then?
Ah! This is clearly a metaphysical speculation.
And like most metaphysical speculations,
has very little reference to the actual facts of real life as we know them.
Well, personally, darling, to speak candidly,
I don't much care for the name of Ernest.
I don't think it suits me at all.
It suits you perfectly. It's a divine name.
It has music of its own.
It...it produces vibrations.
Well, I must say, Gwendolen, I think there are lots of other much nicer names.
I think, um...
Jack, for instance, is a charming name.
Oh, no. There's very little music in the name of Jack.
If any at all, indeed.
I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception,
were more than usually plain.
Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John
and I pity any woman who's married to a man called John.
The only really safe name... is Ernest.
Gwendolen, I...I must get christened at once.
I mean, we must get married at once.
Married, Mr Worthing?
Well, surely... you know that I love you
and you have led me to believe, Miss Fairfax,
that you are not entirely indifferent to me.
I adore you. But you haven't proposed to me yet.
Well, er...ahem... may I propose to you now?
I think it would be an admirable opportunity.
And to spare you any possible disappointment, Mr Worthing,
I think it only fair to tell you quite frankly beforehand
that I am fully determined to accept you.
Yes, Mr Worthing?
What have you got to say to me?
Well, you know what I've got to say to you.
Yes, but you don't say it.
Will you marry me?
Of course I will, darling!
How long you've been about it.
I'm afraid you've had very little practice in how to propose.
My own one, I've never loved anyone but you.
Yes, but men often propose for practice.
I know my brother does. All my girlfriends tell me so.
What wonderfully blue eyes you have, Ernest!
They're quite, quite blue.
I hope you will always look at me just like that,
especially when there are other people present.
Mr Worthing! Rise, sir, from this semi-recumbent posture!
It is most indecorous.
Mama, I must beg you to retire. This is no place for you.
Besides, Mr Worthing is not quite finished yet.
Finished what...may I ask?
I am engaged to Mr Worthing, Mama.
Pardon me. You are not engaged to anyone.
When you DO become engaged to someone,
I or your father - should his health permit him -
will inform you of the fact.
An engagement should come upon a young girl as a surprise.
Pleasant or unpleasant as the case may be.
It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself.
And now I have a few questions to put to you, Mr Worthing.
While I am making these inquiries,
you, Gwendolen, will wait for me below in the carriage.
-In the carriage, Gwendolen!
Gwendolen! The carriage.
You can take a seat, Mr Worthing.
Thank you, Lady Bracknell, I prefer standing.
I feel bound to tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men,
though I have the same list as the dear Duchess of Bolton.
We worked together, in fact.
But I am quite ready to enter your name
should your answers be what a really affectionate mother requires.
Do you smoke?
Well...yes, I must admit I smoke.
I am glad to hear it. A man should have an occupation of some kind.
I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married
should either know everything or nothing.
Which do you know?
-I know nothing, Lady Bracknell.
-I am pleased to hear it.
I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance.
Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit -
touch it and the bloom is gone.
The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound.
Fortunately, in England at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever.
What is your income?
Between seven and eight thousand a year.
-In land or in investments?
-In investments, chiefly.
That is satisfactory.
Between the duties expected of one during one's lifetime
and the duties exacted from one after one's death,
land has ceased to be either a profit or a pleasure.
It gives one position but prevents one from keeping it up.
That's all that can be said about land.
I have a country house with some land, of course, attached to it - about 1,500 acres, I believe -
but I don't depend on that for my real income.
As far as I can make out,
the poachers are the only people who make anything from it!
You have a town house, I hope?
A girl with a simple, unspoiled nature like Gwendolen
can hardly be expected to reside in the country.
Well, I own a house in Belgrave Square
but it is let by the year to Lady Bloxham.
Lady Bloxham? No, I don't know her.
Oh, she goes about very little.
She's a lady considerably advanced in years.
Ah! Nowadays that is no guarantee of respectability of character.
What are your politics?
Well, I...I'm afraid I really have none.
I...I am a Liberal.
They count as Tories. They dine with us.
Or come in the evening at any rate.
Now to minor matters.
Are your parents living?
I have lost both my parents.
To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune.
To lose both looks like carelessness.
Who was your father?
Well, I'm afraid I really don't know.
The fact is, Lady Bracknell, I said I had lost both my parents...
It would be nearer the truth to say my parents seem to have lost me.
I don't actually know who I am by birth.
Well...I was found.
The late Mr Thomas Cardew - an old gentleman of most charitable and kindly disposition - found me
and named me Worthing
because he had a first-class ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time.
Worthing is a place in Sussex.
It is a seaside resort.
And where did the charitable gentleman
who had a first-class ticket for this seaside resort find you?
In a handbag.
Yes, Lady Bracknell, I was in a handbag.
A somewhat large, black... leather handbag...with handles to it.
An ordinary handbag, in fact.
In what locality did this Mr James or Thomas Cardew
come across this ordinary handbag?
In the cloakroom at Victoria Station.
It was given him in mistake for his own.
The cloakroom at Victoria Station?!
Yes. The Brighton line.
The line is immaterial!
..I confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me.
To be born, or at any rate, bred in a handbag -
whether it had handles or not -
seems to me to display a contempt
for the ordinary decencies of family life
that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.
And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to.
May I ask what you advise me to do?
I would do anything in the world to ensure Gwendolen's happiness.
I would strongly advise you, Mr Worthing,
to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible.
And to make a definite effort to produce, at any rate,
one parent of either sex before the season is quite over!
I don't see how I can possibly do that.
I can produce the handbag at any moment.
That ought to satisfy you, Lady Bracknell.
Me, sir? What has it to do with me?
You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell
would dream of allowing our only daughter -
a girl brought up with the utmost care -
to marry into a CLOAKROOM
and form an alliance with a PARCEL!
Good morning, Mr Worthing.
Good morning, Lady Bracknell.
"THE WEDDING MARCH" PLAYS ON PIANO
Algy, for heaven's sake, stop playing that ghastly tune!
-Didn't it go off all right?
You mean Gwendolen refused you?
Gwendolen is as right as a trivet! She thinks we're engaged.
Her mother is an absolute gorgon!
I am unsure what a gorgon is, but Lady Bracknell is one.
Anyway, she's a monster without being a myth, which is rather unfair.
Algy...you don't suppose that Gwendolen will become like her mother
in about 150 years, do you?
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy.
No man does. That's his.
-Is that clever?
-It is perfectly phrased.
And quite as true as any observation in civilised life should be.
Did you tell Gwendolen the truth
about being Ernest in town and Jack in the country?
My dear fellow, the truth is not the sort of thing
one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl.
Besides, before the week's end I shall have got rid of Ernest.
My poor brother Ernest is to be carried off quite suddenly in Paris
by a severe chill.
I thought you said that your ward
was a little too interested in your poor brother Ernest.
Won't she feel his loss?
Oh, Cecily isn't a silly, romantic girl.
She's got a capital appetite, she goes for long walks
and pays no attention to her lessons.
I'd like to see Cecily.
I shall take care that you never do.
She is excessively pretty and only just 18.
Have you told Gwendolen you have an excessively pretty ward?
One doesn't blurt these things out to people.
Cecily and Gwendolen are certain to be good friends.
I bet that soon after meeting they'll call each other sister.
Mmm. Women only do that when they've called each other a lot of other things first.
Algy, kindly turn your back.
I have something very particular to tell Mr Worthing.
Really, I can't allow this at all.
Ernest, we may never be married.
From Mama's expression, I fear we never shall.
But although she may prevent us from being married,
nothing she can possibly do can alter my eternal devotion to you.
Your...your Christian name has an irresistible fascination.
The simplicity of your character
makes you exquisitely incomprehensible to me.
Your town address I have. What is your address in the country?
The Manor House, Woolton, Hertfordshire.
There is a good postal service?
It may be necessary to do something desperate.
-The Manor House.
My own one!
-Yes, Miss Prism?
Come here at once, child!
We should have been at our labours quite 20 minutes ago.
Unfortunately, I was detained by a slight mishap
to my, er, my...
Oh, well, never mind about that.
Your German grammar is on the table.
-But I don't like German.
It isn't at all a becoming language.
I know perfectly well that I look quite plain after my German lesson.
You know your guardian is anxious
you should improve yourself in every way.
He laid particular stress on your German
as he left for town yesterday.
He always lays stress on your German when he's leaving for town.
We will repeat yesterday's lesson. Genders.
Dear Uncle Jack is so very serious.
Sometimes he is so serious that I think he cannot be well.
Your guardian enjoys the best of health.
And his gravity of demeanour...
his gravity of demeanour is especially to be commended
in one so comparatively young as he is.
I know no-one who has a higher sense of duty and responsibility.
That is why he often looks bored when we three are together.
Cecily, I'm surprised at you!
Mr Worthing has many troubles in his life.
Idle merriment and triviality would be out of place in his conversation.
You must remember his constant anxiety
about that unfortunate young man, his brother Ernest.
Why, I wish Uncle Jack would allow
that unfortunate young man, his brother Ernest,
to come down here sometimes.
TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS
Diminutives are always neuter.
That is, they belong to neither sex,
even when appearances are to the contrary.
As for example, das Fraulein - the young lady -
das Madchen - the young girl.
Put away your diary, Cecily!
I don't see why you should keep a diary at all.
I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets of my life!
If I didn't write them down, I should probably forget them.
Memory, dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry with us.
Yes, but it chronicles the things that have never happened
and couldn't possibly have happened. I believe that memory's responsible
for nearly all the three-volume novels that the library sends us.
Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novelists.
I wrote one myself in earlier days.
Did you really, Miss Prism?
Oh, how wonderfully clever you are!
I hope it did not end happily.
I don't like novels that end happily.
The good ended happily and the bad unhappily.
-That is what fiction means.
-I suppose so.
-And was it ever published?
The manuscript, unfortunately, was abandoned.
Oh, I use the word in the sense of "lost" or "mislaid".
Now, to your work, child.
These speculations are profitless.
But I see dear Dr Chasuble coming up through the garden.
And how are we this morning?
Miss Prism, you are, I trust, well?
Dr Chasuble, this is indeed a pleasure!
Miss Prism has just been complaining of a slight headache.
It would do her so much good
to go for a stroll with you in the park.
Cecily, I have not mentioned anything about a headache.
I know that, Miss Prism.
I felt instinctively that you had a headache.
I was thinking about that, not about my German lesson,
when the rector arrived.
I hope, Cecily, you are not inattentive?
-Oh, I'm afraid I am.
-That is strange.
Were I fortunate enough to be Miss Prism's pupil,
I would hang upon her lips.
-I spoke metaphorically.
My metaphor was drawn from bees.
Mr Worthing, I suppose, has not returned from town yet.
We do not expect him till Monday afternoon.
He usually likes to spend Sunday in London.
He's not one of those whose sole aim is enjoyment.
As by all accounts that unfortunate young man, his brother, seems to be.
Yes. I must not disturb Egeria and her pupil any longer.
Egeria? My name is Laetitia, Doctor.
Laetitia! The Latin for "joy"!
I shall see you both, no doubt, at evensong?
I think, dear Doctor, I will stroll with you.
I find I have a headache after all.
A stroll might do it good.
Cecily, you will read your political economy in my absence.
The chapter on the fall of the rupee you may omit. It is too sensational.
Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side.
Horrid political economy!
Horrid geology! Horrid, horrid German!
You are too much alone, dear Dr Chasuble.
-You should get married.
You do not seem to realise, dear Doctor,
that by persistently remaining single
a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation.
A man should be more careful.
Or he may lead weaker vessels astray.
But is a man not equally attractive when married?
No married man is ever attractive, except to his wife.
Often, I've been told, not even to her.
Doesn't that depend
upon the intellectual sympathies of the woman?
Maturity can always be depended on.
Ripeness can be trusted.
Young women are green.
I spoke horticulturally. My metaphor was drawn from fruits.
Mr Ernest Worthing has just driven over from the station, miss.
He's brought his luggage with him.
"Mr Ernest Worthing, B4, The Albany."
Uncle Jack's brother?
Did you tell him Mr Worthing was in London?
Yes, miss. He seemed very much disappointed.
He said he would like to speak to you privately for a moment.
I've left him in the morning room.
Thank you, Merriman.
I've never met a really wicked person before.
I feel rather frightened.
I'm so afraid he'll look just like everyone else.
HE HUMS: "La Donna E Mobile"
You are my little cousin Cecily, aren't you?
You are under some strange misapprehension.
I am not little.
I believe that I am more than usually tall for my age.
But I am your cousin Cecily.
You, I see from your card, are Uncle Jack's brother...
my cousin Ernest.
My wicked cousin Ernest.
Oh, I'm not really wicked at all, Cousin Cecily.
You mustn't think I'm wicked.
If you are not,
then you have certainly been deceiving us all
in a very inexcusable manner!
I hope you have not been leading a double life -
pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time!
That would be hypocrisy!
Of course, I... I have been rather reckless.
I'm glad to hear it!
In fact, now you mention the subject,
I have been very bad in my own small way.
I don't think you should be so proud of that.
Though I'm sure it was very pleasant.
It's much pleasanter being here with you.
I can't understand how you're here at all.
Uncle Jack won't be back till Monday afternoon.
That is a great disappointment.
I must go up by the first train on Monday morning.
I have a business appointment that I'm anxious...
Couldn't you miss it anywhere but in London?
No. The appointment is in London.
Well, I...know, of course,
how important it is not to keep a business engagement.
Still, I think you had better wait until Uncle Jack arrives.
He wants to speak to you about your emigrating.
About your emigrating. He has gone up to buy your outfit.
I certainly wouldn't allow Jack to buy my outfit.
He's got absolutely no taste in neckties.
I don't think that you will require neckties.
Uncle Jack is sending you to Australia.
I'd sooner die.
He said at dinner on Wednesday you would have to choose -
between this world, the next world and Australia.
Oh! Well, the reports I have of Australia and the next world are not particularly encouraging.
This world is good enough for me, Cousin Cecily.
Yes. But are you good enough for it?
Well, no, I am not that.
That is why I would like you to reform me.
You might make that your mission, if you don't mind.
I am afraid I have no time this afternoon.
Would you mind if I reform myself this afternoon?
It is rather romantic of you. But I think you should try.
I feel better already.
You are looking a little worse.
That's because I'm hungry.
Oh, how thoughtless of me!
I should have remembered that when one is leading an entirely new life
one requires regular and wholesome meals.
Might I have a buttonhole first?
I...I never have any appetite unless I have a buttonhole.
A Marechal Niel?
-No. I would sooner have a pink rose.
Because you are like a pink rose, Cousin Cecily.
I don't think it can be right for you to say such things to me.
Miss Prism never talks like that.
Then Miss Prism is a short-sighted old lady.
You are the prettiest girl I ever saw.
Miss Prism says that all good looks are a snare.
They are a snare that any sensible man would like to be caught in.
I don't think I should care to catch a sensible man.
I wouldn't know what to talk to him about.
Dear Mr Worthing, I trust this garb of woe
does not betoken some terrible calamity.
More shameful debts and extravagance?
Your brother Ernest dead?
What a lesson. I trust he will profit by it.
Oh, Mr Worthing, I...I offer my sincere condolences.
Poor Ernest. He had many faults.
-But it is a sad, sad blow.
-Oh, very sad indeed.
Were you with him at the end?
No. He died abroad, in Paris.
I had a telegram last night from the Grand Hotel's manager.
Was the cause of death mentioned?
A severe chill, it seems.
As a man sows, so let him reap.
Charity, dear Miss Prism, charity. None of us are perfect.
I myself am peculiarly susceptible to draughts.
Er, will the interment take place here?
No. He expressed a desire to be buried in Paris.
I fear that hardly points
to any very serious state of mind at the last.
Oh, Uncle Jack!
I'm so glad to see you back.
But what horrid clothes you have got on.
-Oh, child! My child!
Do look happy! I have got such a surprise for you.
Who do you think is in the dining room?
Your brother Ernest.
He arrived half an hour ago.
-Nonsense. I haven't got a brother.
-Oh, don't say that.
However badly he behaved to you in the past
he is still your brother.
You couldn't be so heartless as to disown him.
you will shake hands with him, won't you, Uncle Jack?
These are very joyful tidings! Hmm?
After we had all been resigned to his loss,
his sudden return seems to me peculiarly distressing.
Brother John, I have come all the way from London
to tell you how sorry I am for the trouble I have caused you
and that I intend to lead a better life in future.
Uncle Jack, you are not going to refuse your own brother's hand?
Nothing would induce me to take it.
His coming here is disgraceful! He knows perfectly well why.
Uncle Jack, do be nice.
There is some good in everyone.
Ernest has been telling me about his poor invalid friend, Mr Bunbury.
He's told you about Bunbury?
I won't have him telling you about Bunbury or anything else!
I admit the faults are on my side.
But I must say, I think
brother John's coldness to me on my first visit here peculiarly painful.
Uncle Jack, if you won't shake hands with Ernest
I will never forgive you!
-Never forgive me?
It is the last time I shall do it.
I think we might leave the brothers together.
-Cecily, you will come with us!
-Certainly, Miss Prism.
My little task of reconciliation is over.
Algy, you young scoundrel, you must leave this place at once.
I won't have any Bunburying here! Merriman, order the dogcart at once.
Mr Ernest has been called back suddenly to town!
You're a fearful liar. I haven't been called back to town.
-I haven't heard anyone call me.
Your duty as a gentleman calls you back!
I have never allowed my duty as a gentleman
to interfere with my pleasures.
I can quite understand that.
Well, Cecily is a darling!
I don't like you speaking of Miss Cardew that way.
I don't like your clothes. You look perfectly grotesque!
Why don't you change?
Childish to be in deep mourning
for a man who is staying a week with you as a guest.
You are not staying for a week as guest or anything else!
You are leaving this afternoon by the 4.05 train.
I shall not leave as long as you are in mourning.
It would be most unfriendly.
Were I in mourning you'd stay with me.
I should think it unkind if you did not.
Will you go if I change my clothes?
Yes, if you don't take too long.
I never saw a man take so long to dress with such little result.
At any rate, that is better than being always overdressed, as you are.
This Bunburying, as you call it, has not been a great success for you.
I think it's been a great success.
You rang, sir.
Merriman, am I correctly garbed for a christening?
Black is for funerals and weddings, sir.
White is for christenings.
I'll lay out your tennis clothes, sir.
Thank you, Merriman.
DOOR OPENS >
Oh! I thought you were with Uncle Jack.
He is ordering the dogcart for me.
He's taking you for a drive?
He's sending me away.
-Then have we got to part?
-I'm afraid so.
It is very painful, parting.
It is always painful to part from people
whom one has known a brief space of time.
The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity.
But even a momentary separation
from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost...unbearable.
The dogcart is at the door, sir.
It can wait, Merriman, for five minutes.
I hope I shall not offend you
if I state quite openly and frankly that you seem to me
the visible personification of absolute perfection.
I think your frankness does you great credit, Ernest.
If you will allow me, I will copy your remarks into my diary.
Do you really keep a diary?
-I'd give anything to see it. May I?
It is simply a very young girl's record
of her own thoughts and impressions
and consequently meant for publication.
When it appears in volume form, I hope you will order a copy.
But pray, Ernest, don't stop.
I delight in taking down from dictation.
I have reached "absolute perfection".
You may go on. I'm quite ready for more.
HE CLEARS HIS THROAT Oh, don't cough, Ernest.
I don't know how to spell a cough.
ever since I first saw your wonderful and incomparable perfection,
I have dared to love you wildly, passionately, devotedly...
You shouldn't tell me that you love me
"wildly, passionately, devotedly, hopelessly".
"Hopelessly" doesn't seem to make much sense, does it?
< DOOR OPENS
The dogcart is waiting, sir.
Tell it to come round next week.
Very good, sir.
I think Uncle Jack would be very annoyed
if he knew you were staying until next week.
I don't care about Jack.
I don't care for anybody in the world but you.
I love you, Cecily. Will you marry me?
Of course. Why, we've been engaged for the last three months.
The last three months?!
It will be exactly three months on Thursday.
But how did we become engaged?
Well, ever since dear Uncle Jack first confessed
that he had a younger brother who was very wicked and bad,
you have formed the chief topic of conversation
between myself and Miss Prism.
And of course,
a man who is much talked about is always very attractive.
One always feels there must be something in him.
I daresay it was...foolish of me...
..but I fell in love with you, Ernest.
Darling! When was our engagement actually settled?
On the 22nd of February last.
Worn out by your entire ignorance of my existence,
I determined to end the matter, one way or the other.
And after a long struggle with myself, I accepted you -
under that dear old chandelier there.
And then, next day, I bought this ring in your name.
And this is the bangle with the true lovers' knot
that I promised you always to wear.
Did I give you this? It's very pretty, isn't it?
Yes. Yes, you've wonderfully good taste, Ernest.
It's always been my excuse for your leading such a bad life.
..this is the box in which I keep all your dear letters.
My letters? But, my own sweet Cecily, I never wrote you any letters.
You need hardly remind me of that.
I remember I was forced to write all your letters for you.
I wrote three times a week - sometimes oftener.
Do let me read them!
You couldn't possibly. They would make you far too conceited.
The three you wrote to me after our engagement had been broken off
are so beautiful.
And so badly spelled.
Even now, I can hardly read them without crying a little.
-But was our engagement broken off?
-Of course it was.
On the 22nd of last March. You can see the entry.
"Today I broke off my engagement with Ernest.
"I feel it is better to do so. The weather still continues charming."
But why did you break it off? What had I done?
I had done nothing at all.
I am very much hurt indeed that you broke it off.
Particularly when the weather was so charming.
But it would hardly have been a really serious engagement
if it hadn't been broken off at least once.
But I forgave you before the week was out.
What a perfect angel you are!
You won't ever break off our engagement again, will you?
I don't think I could, now that I've actually met you.
Besides, of course, there is the question of your name.
You mustn't laugh at me, darling,
but it had always been a girlish dream of mine
to love someone by the name of Ernest.
There is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence.
Indeed, I pity any poor married woman whose husband is not called Ernest.
My dear child, you mean you couldn't love me if I had some other name?
-But what name?
-Any name you like.
Algernon, for instance.
But I don't like the name of Algernon.
I don't see why you should object to the name of Algernon.
It's not a bad name at all. In fact it's rather aristocratic.
Half the chaps in the bankruptcy court are called Algernon.
But seriously, Cecily, if my name was Algy, couldn't you love me?
I might respect you, Ernest. I might admire your character.
But I fear that I should not be able to give you my undivided attention.
Cecily, your vicar here is, I suppose,
experienced in all the rites and ceremonials of the Church?
Yes, Dr Chasuble is a most learned man.
I must see him on a most important christening - I mean, business.
-I won't be half an hour.
Considering that we have been engaged since February the 22nd
and that I only met you today for the first time,
I think it is rather hard
that you should leave me for so long a period as half an hour.
Couldn't you make it 20 minutes?
I'll be back in no time.
KNOCK AT DOOR
HE CLEARS HIS THROAT
Good afternoon, Dr Chasuble.
You will, I trust, excuse a postprandial relapse into the arms of Morpheus.
In other words, forty winks.
Dr Chasuble, I suppose you know how to christen all right.
I mean, of course, you ARE continually christening, aren't you?
I regret to say, one of my most constant duties in this parish.
I've often spoken to the poorer classes on this subject
but they don't seem to know what thrift is.
Is there any particular infant in whom you're interested, Mr Worthing?
Of course! Your brother.
I beg your pardon?
Your brother, I know, is unmarried, but...
Dr Chasuble, it is not for any child.
The fact is, I was thinking of getting christened myself.
This afternoon, if you've nothing better to do.
But surely, Mr Worthing, you've been christened already?
I don't remember it.
Have you any grave doubts?
Well, I certainly intend to have...
Unless, of course, you think I'm a little too...old now.
Oh, not at all.
The sprinkling and indeed the immersion of adults
is a perfectly canonical practice.
-You need have no apprehension.
Sprinkling is all that is necessary. Or indeed, I think, advisable.
Our weather - so changeable.
What hour would you like the ceremony performed?
I thought I would trot around about five, if that suits you.
Oh, perfectly, perfectly.
I have two similar ceremonies to perform at that time.
A case of twins that occurred recently
in one of the outlying cottages of your own estate.
-Poor Jenkins, the carter.
Most hard-working man.
Well, I don't see much fun
in being christened with a lot of other babies.
It would be childish. Would half past five do?
Oh, admirably, admirably.
-Till half past five, then.
-Half past five at the font.
KNOCK AT DOOR
"What a perfect angel you are, Cecily."
But that is where he knelt.
Yes, I am SURE that is where he knelt.
A Miss Fairfax has called to see Mr Worthing, miss.
On very important business, Miss Fairfax states.
Isn't Mr Worthing in the library?
Mr Worthing went over in the direction of the rectory
some time ago, miss.
Pray, ask the lady to come out. Mr Worthing will be back soon.
-And, Merriman, you may bring tea.
One of the many good elderly women
associated with Uncle Jack in some of his philanthropic work in London,
Pray, let me introduce myself to you.
My name is Cecily Cardew.
What a very sweet name.
Something tells me we're going to be great friends.
I like you already more than I can say.
My first impressions of people are never wrong.
How nice of you to like me so much,
after we have known one another for such a comparatively short time.
Shall we sit over there?
-I may call you Cecily, may I not?
And you will always call me Gwendolen, won't you?
If you wish.
Then that's all quite settled, is it not?
I hope so.
Cecily, Mama, whose views on education are remarkably strict,
has brought me up to be extremely short-sighted.
It's part of her system.
So...do you mind my looking at you through my glasses?
Oh, not at all, Gwendolen. I'm very fond of being looked at.
You are here on a short visit, I suppose?
-Oh, no. I live here.
Your mother, no doubt,
or some female relative of advanced years resides here also?
Oh, no. I have no mother. Nor, in fact, any relations.
I am Mr Worthing's ward.
It is strange he never mentioned that he had a ward.
How secretive of him. He grows more interesting hourly.
I am not sure, however,
that the news inspires me with feelings of unmixed delight.
In fact, if I may speak quite candidly...
I think that whenever one has anything unpleasant to say,
one should always be quite candid.
Well, to speak with perfect candour, Cecily,
I wish that you were fully 42
and more than usually plain for your age.
Ernest has a strong, upright nature.
I beg your pardon, Gwendolen. Did you say Ernest?
Oh, but it is not Mr Ernest Worthing who is my guardian.
It is his brother - his elder brother.
Ernest never mentioned to me that he had a brother.
I'm sorry to say they have not been on good terms for a long time.
Ah. That accounts for it.
Of course, you are quite...quite sure
that it is not Mr ERNEST Worthing who is your guardian?
In fact...I am going to be his...
I beg your pardon?
there is no reason why I should make a secret of it to you.
Our little county newspaper is sure to chronicle the fact next week.
Mr Ernest Worthing and I... are engaged to be married.
My darling Cecily, I think there must be some slight error.
Mr Ernest Worthing is engaged to me.
The announcement will appear in the Morning Post
on Saturday at the latest.
I am afraid you must be under some misconception.
Ernest proposed to me exactly ten minutes ago.
It is certainly VERY curious.
For he asked me to be his wife yesterday afternoon at 5.30.
If you would care to verify the incident, pray, do so.
I NEVER travel without my diary.
One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
I am so sorry, dearest Cecily, if it is any disappointment to you,
but I'm afraid I have the prior claim.
It would distress me more than I can say, dearest Gwendolen,
if it caused you any mental or physical anguish,
but I feel bound to point out that since Ernest proposed to you,
he has clearly changed his mind.
If the poor fellow had been entrapped into any foolish promise,
I shall consider it my duty to rescue him at once.
And with a firm hand.
Whatever unfortunate entanglement my dear boy may have got himself into,
I will never reproach him with it - AFTER we are married.
Do you allude to me, Miss Cardew, as an "entanglement"?
You are presumptuous.
On an occasion of this kind,
it becomes more than a moral duty to speak one's mind,
it becomes a PLEASURE.
Do you suggest, Miss Fairfax, that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement?
How DARE you!
This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners.
When I see a spade, I call it a spade.
I am glad to say I have never seen a spade.
It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.
Shall I lay tea here as usual, miss?
Yes. As usual.
Are there many interesting walks in the vicinity, Miss Cardew?
Oh, yes, a great many.
From the top of one hill, one can see five counties.
Oh, I don't think I should like that.
I hate crowds.
I suppose that is why you live in a town.
I had no idea there were any flowers in the country.
Oh, flowers are as common here, Miss Fairfax, as people are in London.
May I offer you some tea?
No, thank you. Sugar...is not fashionable any more.
Cake? Or bread and butter?
Bread and butter, please. Thank you.
Cake is rarely seen in the best houses nowadays.
Hand that...to Miss Fairfax.
You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar.
And though I most distinctly asked for bread and butter,
you have given me CAKE.
I am known for the gentleness of my disposition
and the EXTRAORDINARY sweetness of my nature
but I warn you, Miss Cardew, you may go too far.
To save my poor, innocent, trusting boy
from the machinations of any other girl,
there are no lengths to which I would not go.
From the moment I saw you, I distrusted you.
I felt that you were false and deceitful.
I'm never deceived in such matters.
My first impressions of people are invariably right.
It seems, Miss Fairfax, that I am trespassing on your valuable time.
No doubt you have many other calls of a similar character
to make in the neighbourhood.
My own Ernest!
May I ask if you are engaged to be married to this young lady?
What, to dear little Cecily? Good heavens, no.
What put that idea into your pretty head?
Thank you. You may.
I knew there must be some misunderstanding, Miss Fairfax.
The gentleman whose arm is at present round your waist
is my dear guardian, Mr John Worthing.
I beg your pardon?
This is Uncle Jack.
HERE is Ernest.
My own love!
Are you by any chance engaged to be married to this young lady?
To what young lady?
Good heavens! Gwendolen!
Yes, to Good heavens, Gwendolen - I mean, Gwendolen.
Of course not.
What could have put that idea into your pretty little head?
I felt there must be some slight error, Miss Cardew.
The gentleman who is now embracing you
is my cousin, Mr Algernon Moncrieff.
Are you called Algernon?
I cannot deny it.
Is your name really John?
I could deny it - I could deny anything if I liked -
but my name certainly is John.
A gross deception has been practised on both of us.
My poor, wounded Cecily.
My sweet, wronged Gwendolen.
You WILL call me "sister", will you not?
There is just one question I would like to ask my guardian.
An admirable idea.
Mr Worthing, there is just one question I would like to put to you.
Where is your brother Ernest?
We are both engaged to be married to your brother Ernest
so it is a matter of some importance
to know where your brother Ernest is at present.
Gwendolen. And Cecily.
I will tell you quite frankly... that I have no brother Ernest.
I've no brother at all.
No brother at all?!
Have you never had a brother of any kind?
Never. Not even of any kind.
I am afraid it is quite clear, Cecily,
that neither of us is engaged to be married to anyone.
It is not a very pleasant position
for a young girl suddenly to find herself in, is it?
Let us go into the house.
They will hardly venture to come after us there.
No. Men are such cowards, aren't they?
This ghastly state of affairs
is what you would call Bunburying, I suppose?
Yes. The most wonderful Bunbury I ever had in my life.
The only small satisfaction I get from this whole wretched business
is that your friend Bunbury, Algy, is quite exploded.
And a very good thing too.
Your brother is a little off-colour, isn't he, Jack?
And not a bad thing either.
As for you deceiving a sweet, innocent girl like Miss Cardew,
I can only say that... it's inexcusable.
Saying nothing of her being my ward.
I can see no defence for your deceiving
a clever, experienced young lady like Miss Fairfax,
to say nothing of her being my cousin.
I simply wanted to be engaged to Gwendolen.
I love her.
I simply wanted to be engaged to Cecily. I adore her.
You will never marry Miss Cardew.
There is no likelihood of you and Miss Fairfax being united.
TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS
Will you be good enough to inform me
how soon this... railway train arrives at Woolton?
Now, let me see.
There's Garthrington - no, we passed there.
Then there's Gooseley Halt... Sopley...Cobblers Corner...
Combe Brisset...High Totham... Low Totham...
How you can sit there,
calmly eating muffins when we're in this terrible trouble,
I can't imagine. You seem perfectly heartless.
I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner -
butter would get on my cuffs.
One should always eat muffins quite calmly - it's the only way.
It's perfectly heartless to eat them at all!
When I'm in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me.
They are eating muffins!
I wish to goodness you would go.
But I've just made arrangements with Dr Chasuble
to be christened at six o'clock as Ernest.
I've made arrangements with Dr Chasuble myself
to be christened at 5.30.
I naturally will take the name Ernest.
I have a perfect right to be christened.
There's no evidence I was ever christened by anyone.
-You've been christened already.
-But not for years.
But you HAVE been christened. That is the important thing.
Quite so. So I know my constitution can stand it.
It might make you very unwell.
You can't have forgotten that someone closely connected with you
was nearly carried off by a severe chill.
You talk as if a severe chill were hereditary.
It usen't to be but it may be now.
Science is always making wonderful improvements in things.
They are looking this way.
They are approaching!
That is very forward of them.
Let us preserve... a dignified silence.
Certainly. It is the only thing to do now.
MEN SING >
THEY SING: "La Donna E Mobile"
Mr Worthing, I have something very particular to ask you.
MUCH depends on your reply.
Your common sense is invaluable, Gwendolen.
Mr Moncrieff, kindly answer me the following question.
Why did you pretend to be my guardian's brother?
In order that I might have an opportunity of meeting you.
That certainly seems a satisfactory explanation, does it not?
Yes, dear, if you believe it.
Mr Worthing, what explanation can you offer me
for pretending to have a brother?
Was it to have an opportunity
of coming up to town to see me as often as possible?
Can you doubt it, Miss Fairfax?
I have the gravest doubts on the subject
but I intend to crush them.
Their explanations appear to have the stamp of truth.
Especially Mr Worthing's.
I am more than content with what Mr Moncrieff has said.
His voice alone inspires one with absolute credulity.
Then you think we should forgive them?
I mean no!
True. I had forgotten.
There are principles at stake that one cannot surrender.
Which of us should tell them? The task is not pleasant.
-Could we not both speak together?
-An excellent idea!
I nearly always speak when other people are speaking.
Will you take the time from me?
BOTH: Your Christian names are still an insuperable barrier.
That is all.
BOTH: Our Christian names? Is that all?
But we're going to be christened this afternoon!
For my sake you are prepared to do this terrible thing?
To please me, you are ready to face this fearful ordeal?
How absurd to talk of the equality of the sexes!
Where questions of self-sacrifice are concerned,
men are infinitely beyond us.
BOTH: We are.
What does this mean?
Merely that I am engaged to Mr Worthing, Mama.
Sit down. >
Sit down immediately! >
Mr Worthing, you will clearly understand
that all communication between yourself and my daughter
must cease immediately from this moment.
On this, as indeed on all points, I am firm.
I am engaged to be married to Gwendolen, Lady Bracknell.
You are nothing of the kind, sir.
And now, as regards Algernon.
-Yes, Aunt Augusta.
May I ask if it is in this house
that your invalid friend Mr Bunbury resides?
Oh, no, Bunbury doesn't live here.
Bunbury is somewhere else at present.
In fact, Bunbury is dead.
Dead? When did Mr Bunbury die?
Oh, I killed Bunbury this afternoon.
I mean, Bunbury died this afternoon.
What did he die of?
Bunbury? Oh, he was quite exploded.
Was he a victim of a revolutionary outrage?
My dear Aunt Augusta, I mean he was found out.
The doctors found out that Bunbury could not live.
-So Bunbury died.
And now that we have finally got rid of this Mr Bunbury...
may I ask Mr Worthing, who is that young person
whose hand my nephew Algernon is holding
in what appears to me to be a peculiarly unnecessary manner?
That lady is Miss Cecily Cardew, my ward.
I am engaged to be married to Cecily, Aunt Augusta.
I beg your pardon?
Mr Moncrieff and I are engaged to be married, Lady Bracknell.
I think some preliminary inquiry on my part would not be out of place.
Mr Worthing, is Miss Cardew at all connected
with any of the larger railway stations in London?
I merely require information.
Until yesterday, I had no idea there were any families or persons
whose origin was a terminus.
Miss Cardew is the granddaughter of the late Mr Thomas Cardew
of 149 Belgrave Square, South-West,
Gervase Park, Dorking, Surrey,
and the Sporran, Fifeshire.
That sounds not unsatisfactory.
Three addresses always inspire confidence, even in tradesmen.
But what proof have I of their authenticity?
I have carefully preserved the Court Guides of the period.
They are open for your inspection.
I have known strange errors in that publication.
Miss Cardew's family solicitors are Messrs Markby, Markby and Markby.
Oh, Markby, Markby and Markby?
A firm of the very highest position in their profession.
I have also in my possession
certificates of Miss Cardew's birth, baptism, whooping cough,
registration, vaccination, confirmation and the measles -
the German and the English variety.
A life crowded with incident, I see,
but somewhat too exciting for a young girl.
Gwendolen, the time approaches for our departure.
We have not a moment to lose.
As a matter of form, Mr Worthing,
I had better ask if Miss Cardew has any little fortune.
£130,000 in the Funds, that is all.
Goodbye, Lady Bracknell. So pleased to have seen you.
One moment, Mr Worthing.
£130,000 and in the Funds.
Miss Cardew seems a most attractive young lady now that I look at her.
Few girls of the present day have any really solid qualities,
qualities that last and improve with time.
We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces.
Come over here, dear.
Pretty child, your dress is sadly simple
and your hair seems almost as nature might have left it
but we can soon alter that.
A thoroughly experienced French maid
produces a really remarkable result in a very brief space of time.
There are distinct social possibilities in your profile.
Cecily is the dearest, sweetest, prettiest girl in the world
and I don't care two pins for social possibilities.
Never speak disrespectfully of society, Algernon.
Only people who can't get into it do that.
I suppose you know that Algernon has nothing but his debts to depend upon.
But I do not approve of mercenary marriages.
When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind
but I never dreamed of allowing that to stand in my way.
Well...I suppose I must give my consent.
Thank you, Aunt Augusta.
Cecily, you may kiss me.
Thank you, Lady Bracknell.
And you may address me as Aunt Augusta for the future.
Thank you, Aunt Augusta.
The marriage, I think, had better take place quite soon.
BOTH: Thank you, Aunt Augusta!
To speak frankly,
I am not in favour of long engagements.
They give people an opportunity
of finding out each other's characters before marriage,
which I think is never advisable.
I beg your pardon for interrupting, Lady Bracknell,
but this engagement is quite out of the question.
I am Miss Cardew's guardian and she cannot marry without my consent.
That consent I absolutely decline to give.
Upon what grounds, may I ask?
Algernon is an extremely...
one might almost say ostentatiously eligible young man.
He has nothing and looks everything.
What more could one desire?
It pains me very much to speak frankly about your nephew
but I do not approve at all of his moral character.
-I suspect him of being untruthful.
My nephew Algernon untruthful?
Impossible! He was at Oxford.
I fear there can no possible doubt about the matter.
This afternoon during my temporary absence in London,
on an important question of...romance,
he obtained admission to my house
by means of the false pretence of being my brother.
Under an assumed name, he drank, my butler just informed me,
an entire pint bottle of Perrier-Jouet Brut '89 -
a wine I was especially reserving for myself.
Continuing his disgraceful deception,
he succeeded during the course of the afternoon
in alienating the affections of my only ward.
He subsequently stayed to tea and devoured every single muffin
and what makes his conduct heartless is he was aware I have no brother,
that I never had a brother and don't intend to...not of any kind.
after careful consideration,
I have decided entirely to overlook my nephew's conduct toward you.
That is very generous of you, Lady Bracknell.
My own decision, however, is unalterable.
I decline to give my consent.
Come here, sweet child.
How old are you?
Well, I'm really only 18,
but I always admit to 20 at evening parties.
You are perfectly right to make some slight alteration.
A woman should never be really accurate about her age.
It looks so calculating.
18, admitting to 20 at evening parties.
Well, you will soon be of age and free from the restraints of tutelage
so I do not think your guardian's consent is a matter of importance.
Pray excuse me for interrupting again, Lady Bracknell,
but it is only fair to note that according to her grandfather's will,
Miss Cardew does not legally come of age until she is 35.
That does not seem to be a very grave objection.
35 is a very attractive age.
London society is full of women of the highest birth
who of their own free choice have remained 35 for years.
Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point.
To my own knowledge, she's been 35 since she arrived at the age of 40,
which is many years ago now.
I see no reason why our dear Cecily
should not be even more attractive then than the age she is at present.
There will be a large accumulation of property.
could you wait for me till I was 35?
Of course I could, Cecily. You know I could.
Yes, I felt that...instinctively.
-But I couldn't wait all that time!
My dear Mr Worthing,
as Miss Cardew states positively that she cannot wait until she is 35 -
a remark which I am bound to say seems to show a somewhat impatient nature -
I would beg of you to reconsider your decision.
But, my dear Lady Bracknell, the matter is entirely in your hands.
The moment you consent to my marrying Gwendolen,
I will gladly allow your nephew to form an alliance with my ward.
That is not the destiny I propose for Gwendolen.
Algernon, of course, can choose for himself.
Come, dear. We've already missed five, if not six, trains.
To miss any more might expose us to comment on the platform.
Everything is quite ready for the christenings.
The christenings, sir?
Is not this somewhat premature?
Er...both these gentlemen
have expressed their desire for immediate baptism.
At THEIR age?!
The idea is grotesque and irreligious.
Algernon, I forbid you to be baptised.
I will not hear of such excesses.
Am I to understand
there are to be no christenings at all this afternoon?
I don't think that with things as they are, Dr Chasuble,
they will be much practical value to either of us.
As your present mood seems to be one peculiarly secular,
I will return to the church at once.
I've just been informed Miss Prism has been waiting for me.
Did I hear you mention a Miss Prism?
Yes, indeed. I am on my way to join her.
Kindly allow me to detain you for one moment.
Is this Miss Prism a female of repellent aspect
remotely connected with education?
She is the most cultivated of ladies
and the very picture of respectability.
It is obviously the same person.
May I ask what is her position in your household?
Miss Prism, Lady Bracknell, has for three years
been Miss Cardew's esteemed governess and valued companion.
In spite of what I hear of her, I must see her at once.
Let her be sent for. < MUMBLING
She approaches. She is nigh!
I was told you expected me in the vestry, dear Canon.
I have been waiting for you there for an hour and three quarters!
Come here, Prism.
Prism, where is that baby?
28 years ago, Prism, you left Lord Bracknell's house
in charge of a perambulator containing an infant of the male sex.
You never returned.
Some few weeks later,
the perambulator was discovered at midnight
standing by itself in a remote corner of Bayswater.
It contained the manuscript of a three-volume novel
of a more than usually revolting sentimentality.
-But the baby was not there.
Prism, where is that baby?
WHERE is that baby, Prism?
I admit, with shame, that I do not know.
I only wish I did.
The plain facts of the case are these.
On the morning of the day you mention,
a day that is for ever branded on my memory,
I prepared as usual to take the baby out in its perambulator.
I had also with me a somewhat old but capacious handbag
in which I had intended to place the manuscript of a work of fiction
that I had written during my few unoccupied hours.
In a moment of mental abstraction,
for which I never can forgive myself,
I deposited the manuscript in the bassinet...
and placed the baby in the handbag!
-WHERE did you deposit the handbag?
-Do not ask me.
This is a matter of no small importance!
I insist on knowing where you deposited it!
I left it in the cloakroom of one of London's larger railway stations.
The Brighton line.
Gwendolen, wait for me.
If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.
HEAVY THUDDING ABOVE
This suspense is terrible!
-Miss Prism, is this the handbag?
-Let me look.
Examine it carefully before you speak.
The happiness of more than one life depends on it.
It seems to be mine.
Oh, yes - here is the injury it received
through the upsetting of a Gower Street omnibus
in younger and happier days.
Here is the stain on the lining
caused by the explosion of a temperance beverage,
an incident that occurred at Leamington.
And here on the lock are my initials!
I had forgotten that in an extravagant mood I had had them done.
The bag is undoubtedly mine.
I'm delighted to have it so unexpectedly restored.
It has been a great inconvenience being without it.
..more is restored to you than the handbag.
I am the baby that was placed in it.
-Mr Worthing, I am unmarried!
I do not deny that is a serious blow, but...
who should cast a stone against one who has suffered?
May not repentance white out an act of folly?
The law should be the same for men and women!
Mother, I...I forgive you!
Mr Worthing, there is some error!
There is the lady who can tell you who you really are.
Lady Bracknell, I...hate to seem inquisitive,
but could you kindly inform me who I really am?
You are the son of my poor sister, Mrs Moncrieff,
and consequently Algernon's elder brother.
Algy's elder brother?
Then I have a brother after all.
I knew I did! I always said so.
Cecily, how could you have doubted it?
Dr Chasuble - my unfortunate brother.
Miss Prism - my unfortunate brother.
Gwendolen - my unfortunate brother.
Algy, you scoundrel, you'll have to be more respectful now.
You've never behaved to me like a brother!
Not till today, old boy, I admit. I tried my best.
My own! But... but what own are you?
What is your Christian name now you have become someone else?
Your decision regarding my Christian name is irrevocable, I suppose?
I never change, except in my affections.
What a noble nature you have, Gwendolen.
Then the question must be cleared up finally.
Aunt Augusta, at the time when Miss Prism left me in the handbag...
had I been christened already?
Every luxury that money could buy, including christening,
had been lavished on you by your fond and doting parents.
Then I was christened. That is settled.
Now...what was my Christian name? Let me know the worst.
Being the eldest son, you were naturally called after your father.
Yes, but what was my father's Christian name?
I cannot for the moment recall what the General's Christian name was.
I've no doubt he had one.
He was eccentric, I admit, but only in later years.
Algy, can't you recollect our father's Christian name?
We were never on speaking terms. He died before I was a year old.
Wouldn't his name be on army lists of the period?
The General was essentially a man of peace, except in his domestic life.
But I've no doubt his name would appear in any military directory.
The army lists of the last 40 years are here.
These delightful records should have been my constant study.
"M" - Generals.
What ghastly names they have!
"Lieutenant - 1840, Captain, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel...
"General - 1869...
Gwendolen, I always told you that my name was Ernest, didn't I?
Ernest! My own Ernest!
Cecily! At last!
-Laetitia, at last!
Gwendolen, at last!
My nephew, you seem to be displaying signs of triviality.
On the contrary, Aunt Augusta,
I have realised for the first time in my life
the vital importance of being earnest!
Two bachelors adopt the fictitious personae of the wealthy, eligible and entirely imaginary man named Ernest in order to court the ladies Gwendolen and Cecily. But events take a confused turn when both girls fall for the charms of their respective Ernests.