The Naked Civil Servant (1975) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Naked Civil Servant (1975)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Based on Quentin Crisp's autobiography, the once-controversial picture The Naked Civil Servant stars John Hurt as Crisp, a flamboyant character who publicly declared his homosexuality during the brutally homophobic and misogynistic England of the 1930s and '40s -- a time when this alternative lifestyle was still an offense punishable by imprisonment in Great Britain. (The man dyed his hair and wore makeup in an era when women were looked on with disapproval for such behavior!) Director Jack Gold handles the material with taste, discretion, and a generous supply of humor; it thus might seem bizarre to a contemporary viewer that anyone could be offended by this, but remember that the world was a different place in 1975. More than a few PBS subscribers threatened to yank their support when this British TV film was first offered to American viewers in the spring of that year. Fortunately, many others were willing to see beyond the film's controversial subject matter and revel in the excellence of the production and its participants; one of the film's biggest and most influential fans was none other than Milton Berle. Carl Davis, best known for his symphonic silent-movie restoration scores, composed the music. Hurt drew equal controversy later that same year for his work in another British drama-turned-PBS special -- when he played the psychotic Caligula in Herbert Wise's epic miniseries I, Claudius. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


John Hurt
as Quentin Crisp
Patricia Hodge
as Ballet teacher
Colin Higgins
as Thumbnails
Lloyd Lamble
as Mr. Crisp
Stanley Lebor
as Mr. Pole
Antonia Pemberton
as Mrs. Longhurst
Frank Forsyth
as Family Doctor
View All

News & Interviews for The Naked Civil Servant

Critic Reviews for The Naked Civil Servant

All Critics (3) | Top Critics (1)

Thanks to Hurt's extraordinary performance -- soft-skinned, red-lipped and determined to fight politely for his rights -- it still seems relevant and not just an exercise in nostalgia.

June 8, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

It is well that Hurt's performance is preserved on film, for it is an extraordinary achievement.

October 23, 2019 | Full Review…

The Naked Civil Servant is camp and unabashedly so - but it has far more going on beneath the surface, and helped usher in more nuanced portrayals of LGBT people and culture in the years to come.

October 8, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Naked Civil Servant

Somewhat funny and somewhat sad at the same time. It's a exaggerated portrayal of the LGBT subculture of the 30s in Britain, based on the autobiography of Quentin Crisp. It's not entirely positive on the views of homosexuality as the characters were all stereotypically feminine. John hurt did a great job, but it's just not a film I would regard highly.

Sylvester Kuo
Sylvester Kuo

Super Reviewer

Pretty fascinating but then again, Quentin Crisp was never boring. Great performance by John Hurt.

Sunil Jawahir
Sunil Jawahir

Super Reviewer

At a time when homosexuality was about as popular as bing a nazi Mr Crisp went about his life as camply as possible. In the face of overwhelming odds he kept it camp. Hurt is brillaint as the over the top chutney. It does have a serious side and the message is clear.

Barry Lappin
Barry Lappin

Super Reviewer

The Naked Civil Servant Quotes

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