An Ideal Husband (1999) Script

An_Ideal_Husband_(1999) ,BR_MKV_H264_AC3[5.1](Miramax,Eng) 1280x696 - 24 FPS

The morning paper, m'Lord.

Ah Sir Robert Chiltern a rising star in Parliament... tonight hosts a party that promises to be the highlight of the social calendar...

Er, with his wife Lady Gertrude... who is herself a leading figure in women's politics.

Together... this couple represents what is best in the English public life... and is a noble contrast to the lax morality...

Er, so common amongst foreign politicians.

Dear oh dear... they will never say that about me, will they I sincerely hope not, sir.

Bit of a busy day today, I'm afraid.

Distressingly little time for sloth or idleness.

Sorry to hear it, sir.

Well, not entirely your fault, Phipps.

Not this time.

Thank you, m'Lord.

Good morning, to Tommy.

Morning, Lady Chilterm.

I very much look forward to this evening.

Miss Mabel...


I hope you'll be able to make our usual appointment... as I have something particular I wish to say to you.

Good day, ladies.

When Tommy wants to be romantic he talks to one just like a doctor.

Till tonight.

Miss Mabel.

Lord Goring.

Lord Goring!

Countess-good morning.

Aren't you going to congratulate me, Lord Goring?


Aren't you going to ask what for?

I have made a great decision. I've decided to get married.

My God! Who to?

That part-is still to be decided.

Good morning, dear To Gertrude.

Good morning, Lady Markby.

Allow me to introduce my friend, Mrs. Cheveley.

Two such charming women should know each other.

How do you do?

I think Mrs. Cheveley and I have met before. of course.


And to think you married Sir Robert Chiltern.

Do you know, I was so hoping to meet your clever husband.


Yes. But I have to return to Vienna on Friday.

Oh dear, what a shame.

Well, perhaps I might bring her this evening?

Yes, by all means.

What can I say?

I'd be delighted.

Well we'll see you tonight.

See you tonight.

You see, Phipps, fashion is what one wears oneself.

What is unfashionable... is what other people wear.

Yes, my Lord.

Other people are quite dreadful.

The only possible society is oneself.

Er, yes, my Lord.

To love oneself... is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

Yes, my Lord.

Their Graces, the Duke and Duchess of Berwick.

Lord Windermere.

Countess Basildon.

...and it is widely agreed, the last truly decent man in London...such... and that you're a very personable man possessed of a most attractive personality... and that you have brought into British politics an honesty, an integrity... a finer, a... a nobler atmosphere a finer attitude and higher ideals... higher ideals.

Well, one mustn't believe everything one reads in the newspapers.

Yes, in the old days we had the rack. Nowadays we have the press.

Your own newspaper being the notable exception, of course, Sir Edward... where truth shines out like a beacon... and lies run vainly for the shadows.

Bravo, Lady Chiltern.

But may I ask, do I detect in your conversation a lyricism... not entirely uncommon in your husband's excellent speeches?

If you are suggesting Sir Edward... that my position in society owes anything to my wife, you are utterly mistaken.

It owes everything to my wife.

I demand that you make it known immediately without her, it's true, I am entirely unexceptional.

Without her love...

I'm nothing.

Anyway, all I know is, Chiltern, a serious shake-up in the Government looks inevitable now... and I have to tell you the Prime Minster himself was asking about you this morning.


Probably afraid you'd be taking his job.

Lady Markby.

Mrs. Cheveley.

Oh, my dear if I had a jewel for every staring eye...

I'm glad to say, Lady Markby, you evidently do.

Excuse me.

Ah, chere Madame quelle surprise!

Lady Markby.

I have not seen you since Berlin.

Not since Berlin, Vicomte, five years ago.

And you are younger and more beautiful than ever.

How do you manage it?

By making it a rule only to talk to charming people like yourself.

Mrs. Cheveley.

What do we know about her?

Very influential in Vienna In the highest circles.

A force to be reckoned with.

And are you staying in London long?

That depends partly on the weather... partly on the cooking... and partly on your brother.

My dear... Sir Robert has been dying to meet you.

Everyone is dying to meet the brilliant Mrs. Cheveley.

Our Attaches in Vienna write to us about nothing else.

Thank you, Sir Robert.

An acquaintance that begins with a compliment is sure to develop into a real friendship.

I see you've met my sister.

Yes indeed.

My dear child allow me to introduce you to the Vicomte De Nanjac.

You have a beautiful house, Sir Robert.

We're very happy here.

I am sure. I would so love to look around.

Allow me.

Thank you.

Lord Goring.

Good evening, Lady Rosebury.

Good evening, young lady.

Well, sir, what are you doing here?

Wasting your life as usual.

You should be in bed, sir. You keep too late hours.

I heard of you the other night at Lady Rufford's dancing till four o'clock.

Er, good evening, father.

Can't make out how you stand London society.

Lot of damn nobodies talking about nothing.

I love talking about nothing, father. It's the only thing I know anything about.

That is a paradox, sir. I hate paradoxes.

So do I, father.

Everyone one meets is a paradox nowadays.

Makes society so... obvious, hmm?

Do you always understand what you say, sir?

Yes. If I listen attentively.

Oh, conceited young puppy!

And I have it on very good authority that you have some delightful Corots as well.

Oh, really whose?

Baron Arnheim.

Did you know the Baron well?

Intimately. Did you?

At one time.

Wonderful man, wasn't he?

He was very remarkable in many ways.

I often think it a pity he never wrote his memoirs. They would have been interesting.

Allow me to introduce my dearest friend. The idlest man in London.

Good evening, Lord Goring.

You've met?

I did not think you'd remember me, Mrs. Er Cheveley.

My memory is under admirable control.

Sir Robert, the Indian Ambassador.

Excuse me!

And so, my dear Arthur... are you not just a little bit pleased to see me?

Oh, my dear woman... possibly even less than that. should you wish to avoid me entirely... it is well to know that I'll be staying at Claridges Hotel until Friday when I shall return to Vienna.

Are you still a bachelor?

Resolutely so.

Lord Goring is the result of Boodle's Club, Mrs. Cheveley.

He reflects every credit on the institution.

Thank you.

And now, Sir Robert, I have something to say to you.

You'll find me an eager audience.

I'm so glad.

I want to talk to you about a great political and financial scheme... about this Argentine Company, in fact.

What a tedious, practical subject to talk about, Mrs. Cheveley.

Oh, I like tedious, practical subjects. What I don't like are practical people.

Besides, you're interested. I know, in international canal schemes.


But the Suez Canal was a very great and splendid undertaking.

It gave us our direct route into India.

This Argentine scheme is a commonplace Stock Exchange swindle.

It is a speculation, Sir Robert, a brilliant, daring speculation.

Believe me, Mrs. Cheveley, it is a swindle.

Let us call things by their proper names. It makes matters simpler.

I hope you've not invested in it.

I'm sure you're far too clever to have done that.

I have invested very largely in it.

Who could have advised you to do such a foolish thing?

Your old friend and mine.


Baron Arnheim.

It was one of the last things he said.

The future of the canal depends, of course, on the attitude of Her Majesty's Government.


I will personally be presenting my report... to the House of Commons on Thursday night.

I can tell you now that I will be condemning the scheme in no uncertain terms.

That you must not do.

In your own interests, to say nothing of mine... you must not do that.

Mr. dear Mrs. Cheveley what do you mean?

Sir Robert, I will be quite frank with you.

I want you to amend that report to state that the canal will be of international value.

Will you do that for me?

You cannot be serious.

I am quite serious... and if you do what I ask I will pay you very handsomely.

Pay me?

My dear Sir Robert, you are a man of the world and you have you price, I suppose.

Everybody has nowadays.

If you will allow me, I will call your carriage for you.

You have lived so long abroad, Mrs. Cheveley... that you seem to be unable to realise that you're talking to an English gentleman.

I realize that I'm talking to a man... whose past is perhaps less perfect than his reputation would suggest.

What are you saying?

I am saying that I know the real origin of your wealth and your career...

...and I have got your letter too.

You are very late.

Did you miss me?


Then I am sorry I did not stay away later. I like being missed.

How very selfish of you.

I am very selfish.

Lord Goring, you are always telling me about your bad qualities.

And I haven't told you the half of them as yet. Miss Mabel.

Really? Are the others very bad?

Quite dreadful. When I think of them at night I can go to sleep at once.


I must tell you that I like your qualities and I wouldn't have you part with one.

This shows your admirable good taste.

Miss Mabel. May I have the pleasure of escorting you to the music room?

Why, Tommy, I'd be delighted.

As indeed would I.

Are you coming to the music room?

Um, not if there is any music going on, Miss Mabel.

Well the music is in German... so you would not understand it.

Quite so, quite so.


Gertrude, good evening.

Didn't think you liked political parties.

I adore political parties. They're the place left where people don't talk politics.

The affair to which you allude was no more than a speculation.

It was a swindle, Sir Robert.

"Let's call things by their proper names. It makes matters simpler."

And now I'm going to sell you that letter back... and the price I ask for it is your public support of the Argentine scheme.

I cannot do what you ask me.

You are standing on the edge of a precipice, Sir Robert.

Supposing you refuse?

What then?

Suppose I were to pay a visit to a newspaper office and give them this scandal... and the proof of it.

Think of their loathsome joy.

Think of the delight they would have in tearing you down.


Sir Edward.

My dear Mrs. Cheveley.

I do hope we have the opportunity to meet up while you're in London.

I so enjoy the cut and thrust of continental politics.

I shall make it a particular priority.

Sir Robert.

It is infamous what you propose.


Oh no... it is the game of life, Sir Robert... we all have to play it... sooner of later.

What a charming house, Lady Chiltern. I have spent a delightful evening.

I'm so glad.

And so glad, too, you had a chance to meet my husband, Mrs. Cheveley.


I must confess to some curiosity as to the matter of your conversation.

Your carriage is waiting, Mrs. Cheveley.


Well, another time perhaps, Lady Chiltern, Good evening.

Good evening, Mrs. Cheveley.

Will you see me out, Sir Robert?

Now that we have the same interests at heart, we will be great friends, I hope.


You must let me have more time to consider your proposal.

There is nothing to consider. Support the scheme and I will return the letter.

Scandals used to lend charm, or at least interest, to a man... nowadays they crush him. And yours is a very nasty scandal, Sir Robert.

You would be hounded out of public life.

You would disappear completely.

My God!

What brought you into my life?


At some point we all have to pay for what we do. You have to pay now.

I will give you any sum of money you want.

Even you're not rich enough to buy back your past.

No man is.

...yes, but the fact is, father this is not my day for talking seriously.

I am very sorry but it is not my day.

What do you mean, sir?

I mean that during the season, father...

I only talk seriously on the first Tuesday in every month.

Between noon and three.

Well make it Tuesday, sir. Make it Tuesday.

Ah, yes, but it's before noon, father... and that's what I'm trying to say. I'm very sorry but my doctor said specifically.

You are thirty-six...


I only admit to thirty-two.

You are thirty-six... and you must get a wife.


A shade lack luster this morning, Chiltern.

Mind on other matters I shouldn't wonder.

I had that Cheveley woman drive by the office last night.



Wanted me to write a piece about this Argentine thing.

Quite interesting really.

Mentioned you.

Did she?

She did indeed.

So what did she say?

Outlined the virtues of the scheme, that sort of thing.

Wouldn't be surprised if she had shares in it.

What did she say about me?

About your speech on it. Said I should be prepared for a surprise.

Wouldn't say what.

Can I take it you've changed your position?

I wonder what kind of a woman she is.


That woman, Mrs. Cheveley.

Hmm, smallish.

So the question remains, where to from there, hmm?

To the Hartlocks then the Basildons.

...or should we go straight to the Bachelor's Ball?

You know, Arthur, I almost wish I were you sometimes.

Hmm, do you know, Robert, I almost wish you were too.

Except that you'd probably make something useful out of my life and would never do.

You could always get married.

It's the "always" bit that alarms me.

...and I could see by the glare in his eye that he was about to do it again!

Poor Mr. Trafford.

It sounds quite serious.

Oh, it is.

He proposed to me in broad daylight in front of that dreadful statue of Achilles. oh really, the things that go on in front of that work of art are quite appalling.

The police should interfere.

I know it may not suit a modern girl like you, Mabel, but there is, of course, one...effective way to put a stop to his proposals.

And what would that be?

To accept one of them.

Oh no!


By the way have you been talking to my father?

Why? Should I?

Certainly not.

He was foolish enough to suggest that I model myself on you.

I've always said that your father was a man of exquisite taste and rare judgment.

Hard work, probity and a good woman.

He neglected to mention that you took the last good woman I know.

Took her right out of my arms, if I remember correctly.

Which you don't. what's that saying about the sea and there being fish in it?

Hmm, ah, yes, but I couldn't possibly marry a fish.

I'd be sure to land an old trout.

I never change except in my affection.

What a noble nature you have, Gwendolen!

Well then the question had better be cleared up at once.

But you told me yesterday.

I have reason to believe that the information I received was... prejudiced.

Or any rate, misinformed.

But I...

I now believe that there may be some benefit to the scheme after all.


To whom?

This has nothing to do with Mrs. Cheveley, does it?

You seem to be displaying signs of triviality.

On the contrary, Aunt Augusta...

I've now realized for the first time in my life... the vital importance of being earnest.


You are telling me the whole truth?

Why do ask me such a question?

Why do you not answer it?


Ladies and gentlemen...

I have enjoyed this evening immensely.

Robert, is there, in your life, any... any secret, any... indiscretion?

...which persuades me... that you think as highly of the play as I so myself.

You must tell me, you must, you must tell me at once.

Oh, Gertrude, there is nothing in my past life that you might not know.

I was sure of it, my darling.

I was sure of it.

You know, I found it a perfectly charming evening. Of course I did.

And yours was a perfectly charming performance.

The costumes were, of course, delightful, but for me ... it was the acting.

Would you excuse me a moment?

Miss Mabel?

Good evening, Lord Goring.

Shouldn't you be in bed, Miss Mabel?

Lord Goring!

My father always tells me to go to bed, so I don't see why I shouldn't give you the same advice.

I always pass on good advice. It's the only sensible thing to do with it.

Well, it's very kind of you to offer Lord Goring.

Don't mention it, Miss Mabel.

But I feel I should report... that the role of elder brother is for the moment, being more than adequately performed... my elder brother.

Oh, really?

Yes, Charming and delightful performance it is too.

I really think you ought to go to bed straight away, Miss Mabel.

Lord Goring you're ordering me around.

I think it's most courageous of you.

'Specially as I'm not going to bed for hours.

Darling, you will write won't you to Mrs. Cheveley?

And tell her that you cannot support this scheme of hers.

I might see her.

Perhaps that would be better.

Oh no, Robert, you must never see her again.

Darling, I know this woman. We were at school together.

I didn't trust her then and I don't trust her now.

And she must know at once that she has been mistaken in you.

Now all your life you have stood apart from others.

To the world, as to myself... you have been an ideal. Always.

Be that ideal still.

Claridges Hotel.

No answer.


I love you, Robert.

Oh, love me.

Love me, Gertrude.

Love me always.


So, what is it that brings you back to London after all these years?

Business or pleasure?

As it happens I have some business with your friend, Sir Robert Chiltern... which, is of course, a great pleasure.

And what is it that brings you here tonight?

I came because you asked me to.

And because you were curious?

I suppose.

Why did you ask me?

Because I was curious also to see whether you'd come.

And you did.

I see you are quite as willful as you used to be.

Far more. I've greatly improved. I've had more experience.

Too much experience can be a very dangerous thing, Mrs. Cheveley.

Why don't you call me Laura?

I don't like the name.

You used to adore it.

Yes, that is why.

To think,it was so nearly Laura Goring.

It has a certain ring, don't you agree?

We were quite well suited I remember.

Well, you were poor, I was rich. It must have suited you very well.

Until you met the Baron, of course... who was richer and that suited you much better.

Have you forgiven me yet?

My dear woman... it's been so long now that I'd all but forgotten you.

Isn't that Goring?

It is.

I'm afraid I really must go I have an extremely pressing engagement.

Really? Well as you know...

I hate to stand between a man and his affairs.

Come on, Bunbury, for goodness sake.

I can't believe it.

You are a deserter, sir.

I didn't say I was getting married...

I was merely debating the virtues of the marital state.

Lord Goring, there's a gentleman to see you, sir.

Short debate, sir.

We're a dying breed, old man.

At all costs we must stick together.

If you'd excuse me, gentlemen?

Play the next hand without me.

And now I think it's time you knew the truth... that all these riches this wondrous luxury... amounts finally to nothing.

And that power power over other men... is the one and only thing worth having.

Now this one I call the 'Philosophy of Power'.

'Gospel of Gold'.

So now the question arises... how do you become powerful.

I mean you personally powerful.


Yes, thank you.

The answer is simple.

The answer... is information.

Information is the modern commodity... that can shake the world.

And I happen to know... it's well within your grasp.

And you believed what he said?


I believed it then and I believe it now.

You've never been poor.

You've never known what ambition is.

Go on.

Well, by now Lord Radley was a Cabinet Minister and... as the Baron well knew, I was working as his personal secretary.

And one night, as usual I was the last to leave the office.

Later that evening...

I wrote the Baron a letter containing highly confidential information.

And highly valuable information regarding the financing of the Suez Canal.

A Cabinet. Secret?


In a subsequent transaction the Baron made for himself three quarters of a million pounds.

And you?

I received from the Baron one hundred and ten thousand pounds.

You were worth more, Robert.

No. No. No.

I got exactly what I wanted I entered straight into Parliament and I've... well I've never looked back.

Is it fair, Arthur, that some act of youthful folly... should be brought up against me now all these years later?

Is it fair?

Robert, life is never fair And Perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it's not.

Now, what does Gertrude make of all this?


My dear Robert... secrets from other people's wives are necessary luxury in modern life.

But no man should have a secret from his own wife.

She invariably finds it out.

If I were to tell her, Arthur, I would lose the love of the one woman in the world I worship.

I couldn't tell her, but it did strike me that perhaps you might.

Go on.

Well, perhaps you might talk with her.

Oh really.

Not to tell her, of course... but just to talk with her.

I see.

It's just that Gertrude can sometimes be a little hard-headed.

And you are her oldest and perhaps closest friend and I, and I just thought... talking with you might perhaps... soften her head a little?

Well,it has been known.

Thank you, Lady Chiltern, that was most inspiring.

Oh, I'm so glad.

Well I must say, Arthur...

I'm delighted to find you showing such a keen interest in women's politics.

Oh yes, very keen.

I'm afraid I had a little bit of a late night last night.

So I gather.

I'm so glad to see you.

Are you?

Yes. I wanted to talk to you about Robert.


He seems a little... distracted of late. A little anxious.


You've noticed it too?

I suppose, Er yes.

In a way.

I mean the life that he's chosen for himself by its own nature... must hold innumerable stresses... full of countless compromises.


Well, yes.

What I mean is...

...once a man has set his heart and soul on getting to a certain point... if he has to climb the crag, he has to climb the crag.

And if he has to walk in the mire...


Well then he has to walk, my dear Gertrude, in the mire.

Of course I'm only talking in the most general terms and on a subject about which I know absolutely nothing.

I always thought those were your favourite subjects, Arthur.

Yes, indeed Indeed.

Go on.

Oh yes, no, hmm...

No but supposing, for instance, a public figure, any public figure

...Er, Lord Merton or my father or Robert even say... had, years ago, written some foolish letter to someone... what do you mean by a foolish letter'? well, I mean a letter gravely compromising one's position.

I'm putting an imaginary case, of course.

I cannot help but feel, Arthur, that you are wanting to tell me something.

What I really want to say, dear Gertrude, is... that if for any reason you are ever in trouble... come to me at once and know that I will help you in every way I can.

Lord Goring... you are talking quite seriously.

Well, you must forgive me, Lady Chiltern. It won't occur again.

No, I like you to be serious.


Please don't say such dreadful things to Lord Goring.

Seriousness would be very unbecoming to him.

Good morning, Lord Goring. Pray be as trivial as you can.

Oh I should like to, but I'm afraid I'm a little out of practice this morning.

Besides, I really ought to be going.

Oh, will you be there tonight?

Well, I've received no invitation.

Well, you have now.

I'm sorry, Mabel, I'm not in the mood for modern art.

You don't mind, do you, if Arthur escorts you in my place?

As long as he promises not to be serious.

For I have observed a worrying trend.

I swear on my life to be utterly trivial and never to keep my word.

In which case I shall be delighted.

In which case so shall I.

My dear, Gertrude thank you.

You will remember what I said to you,won't you?

Yes. But I still don't know why you said it.

I hardly know myself.

Goodbye. Miss Mabel.

Lord Goring?

Lord Goring?

What dreadful manners you have, leaving just as I arrive.

I'm sure you were very badly brought up.

Hmm, I was.

I wish I had brought you up.

I'm sorry you didn't.

It is too late now, I suppose?

I shouldn't think so for a moment.



Till tonight then.

Eight o'clock.

Eight o'clock.



My dear Sir Robert...

I must confess to being not disappointed to receive your letter of last night... and to learn that my proposition held no interest for you. perhaps I failed to present it in sufficiently attractive or persuasive terms.

Another time perhaps Yours sincerely...

Laura Cheveley.

Ps. If I should be in the neighbourhood...

I might just pay my respects to your charming wife.

I wonder whether the matter would be of any interest to her?

Mrs. Cheveley?

Won't you sit down?


And you know...

I can't help feeling that this disturbing new thing, this...

'Higher Education of Women' will deal a terrible blow to happy married life.

The higher education of men is what I should like to see.

Men need it so sadly.

They do, dear. But I'm afraid such a scheme would be quite unpractical.

I don't think man has much capacity for development He's got as far as he can.

And that's not far, is it?

With regard to women, well, dear Gertrude... modern women understand everything, I'm told.

Except their husbands. That is the one thing the modern woman never understands.

And a very good thing too, dear, I dare say... it might break up many a happy home if they did.

Not yours, I need hardly say, Gertrude.

You have married the perfect husband.

And now, dear ladies, I had better set forth.

I haven't time to be idling around here all day.

I should be idling around somewhere else very shortly or I shall fall behind.

No, no, I'll see myself out.

No doubt you both have pleasant reminiscences of your school days to talk together.


Goodbye, my dear

Wonderful woman, Lady Markby, isn't she?

Talks more and says less than anybody I ever met.

Now, Gertrude.

Mrs. Cheveley.

I think it is right to tell you that I wish you never to return to this house again.

And never to attempt to contact my husband.

I see that after all these years you've not changed a bit.

I hope I never will.

Then life's taught you nothing?

It has taught me that a person who has once been guilty of a dishonest and dishonorable action may be guilty of it a second time and should be shunned.

Would you apply that rule to everyone?

Yes. Without exception.

Then I am sorry for you Gertrude.

Very sorry for you.

I thank you for your sympathy... but it is your departure I would prefer.

Do you know, Gertrude, I don't mind you talking morality a bit.

Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.

You dislike me. I am quite aware of that.

And I have always detested you.

And yet I have come here to give you some advice.

I hold your husband in the hollow of my hand... and if you are wise you'll make him do what I tell him.

How dare you class my husband with yourself?!

Leave my house!

You are unfit to enter it!

Your house? A house bought with the price of dishonour?

Everything in which has been paid for by fraud.

Ask him what the origin of his fortune is.

Get him to tell you how he sold to a stockbroker a Cabinet secret.

Learn from him to what you owe your position.

It is not true.

Robert... tell her it is not true.


Go at once. You've done your worst now.

Dear Sir Robert...

Lady Chiltern... unless you meet my terms I think you'll fine the worst is yet to come.

You have until half past ten tonight.

Tell me it is not true.

Let me explain...

Tell me it is not true!

Please. let me tell you, please! Listen to me!

No, don't come near me! Don't touch me!

Listen to me!

How could you?!

How could you do that, Robert?!

You've lied to the whole world!

You, you will not lie to me.

Gertrude, please, I must tell you!

No, don't say... don't say anything!

You were to me... something apart from common life.

A thing noble pure.

The world seemed to me finer because you were in it.

And goodness more real because you lived...

I'm... I'm sorry.

So very sorry.

I, I suppose I should go.

Should I?


Get out!

Ah, my second button-hole. Much better.

And, do you know, Phipps... a really well made button-hole is the only link... between art and nature.

Yes, my Lord.

I don't think I quite like this one.

Makes me look a little old.

Makes me almost in the prime of life?

I don't observe any alteration in your Lordship's appearance.

You don't?

No, my Lord.

Hmm, very well.

Oh my God!

Father, how delightful to see you.

Take my cloak off.

Er, is it really worthwhile, father?

Of course it's worthwhile, sir.

Ah, but you see I'm afraid I've recently made a resolution not to have visitors... on Thursday between er, seven and nine in the evening.

Glad to hear it. Can't stand interruptions.

No draught, I hope, in this room.

No, sir.

I feel a draught, sir. I feel it distinctly.

So do I, sir.

A dreadful draught, sir. Why don't you go home?

I will come and see you tomorrow and we can talk about anything you like then.

I have called this evening with a definite purpose... and I'm going to see it through at all cost to my health or yours.

Put my cloak down, sir.

I hate seeing things through, father especially when it's through someone else's eyes.

'Fraid I don't follow you there. sir.

Well, as far as I can make out, you seem to follow me everywhere, father.

I'll take that...

Oh God!

Good evening, Arthur.

My dear Robert.

The fact is I really am horribly busy tonight.

But, Arthur, I must speak with you.

Gertrude has discovered the truth?

Yes, I'm afraid she has.

Come in, Robert. Come in.

But, if you wouldn't mind waiting for a short while...

I'm afraid I'm right in the middle of giving my performance of the attentive son.

Oh, I'm sorry.

Hmm, so am I.



When you left this afternoon my life fell apart.

My love is in ruins.

I need you after all.

I am coming to you now Gertrude.

There is a lady coming to see me this evening on particular business.

Show her into the drawing room when she arrives. Do you understand?

Ah, yes, my Lord.

This is a matter of the gravest importance.

I understand, my Lord.

No one else is to be admitted under any circumstances.

Tell them I'm not at home.

I understand, my Lord.



Yes, father.

Good evening, Phipps.

How nice to see you again, madam.

His Lordship is engaged at present with Lord Caversham, madam.

How very filial.

His Lordship told me to ask you, madam...

Er, to be kind enough, Er, to wait in the drawing room for him.

His Lordship will come to you there.

Lord Goring expects me?

Yes, madam.

Are you quite sure?

His Lordship's directions on the subject were very precise.

No, I don't care for that lamp. It is far too glaring.

Light some candles.

Certainly, madam.

Marriage is not a matter of affection... it is a question of common sense.

Yes, but women who have common sense are usually so curiously plain.

Of course I'm only speaking from hearsay.

No woman, plain or pretty, has any sense are so plain, aren't they, father.

Common sense is a privilege of our sex.

Quite so and we men are so self-sacrificing we never use it, do we, father?

I use it, sir. I use nothing else.

Mum, so my mother tells me.

It is the secret of your mother's happiness.

What was that?

Nothing, father. Nothing.

You are heartless, sir Very heartless.

Oh, I hope not, father.

When you left this afternoon my life fell apart...

I am coming to you now Gertrude.

There we are, madam.

Thank you.

Thank you, madam.

I'm afraid His Lordship's not at home this evening, milady.

I, I see.

I'm sorry, Lady Chiltern.

Not at all. you keep saying.

Is in there?

Yes, my Lord.

Oh, my dear fellow.

I'm sorry, Arthur, I didn't know where else to go.

I don't know what to do, Arthur.

Robert, last night you were telling me... how much Gertrude means to you, hmm?

How much you love her.

More than anything in the world.

But there is a wide gulf between us now... and I fear I shall never bridge it.

I fear she will never forgive me.

Surely there must be some sin in her past life Any sin... weakness, perhaps, that might well... help her to understand yours.

No, I don't believe Gertrude knows what weakness or temptation is.

But she loves you, Robert. She cannot but forgive you.

Now I feel certain that if she could hear you now... the regret you feel about your past...


Yes, regret...

I feel certain that she would pity you.

Perhaps even at this moment she is pitying you.

Praying that she might once again be in your arms.

God grant it but I doubt it.

There is something else I need to tell you about.

The debate on the Argentine canal is to begin at ten thirty.

I have made up my mind what I'm going to say.

I have decided...

What was that?


I heard a noise from next door.

No, no you didn't.

Is there someone there?

Arthur?'re excited, unnerved.

There is no-one in that room. Now sit down, old man, for God's sake!

Do you give me your word of honor?

Oh, yes!

Let me look for myself.

Oh, Robert...

If there is no-one there then why shouldn't I look?

Robert...there is someone in that room.

My dear fellow, I do apologize but I must state she's entirely guiltless in this matter.

She is scheming devious and deceitful.

I beg your pardon?

And you... you are false as a friend ...and treacherous.


Good evening, Lord Goring.

Sir Robert.

So tell me, Goring, how the devil do you explain her presence here?

To be quite honest, I can't I...

I take you two have been planning this for some time.

Look, Robert believes me, we have not. We have never planned anything.

Except marriage, of course, Lord Goring.

Come now, Arthur, you can't have forgotten we were engaged for at least three weeks.

Yes, but...

At this moment I find it hard to see why on earth you broke it off You seem to be... entirely well suited to each other.

Robert, I give you my word...

No, sir.

Oh no, sir.

You have lied enough upon your word of honor.

I appear to have caused something of a commotion.

Goodnight, Sir Robert.

You've come here to sell me Robert Chiltern's letter.

To offer it to you on condition.

How did you guess?

What is your price for it?

My price...

I've arrived at the romantic stage.

When I saw you the other night at the Chilterns'...

I knew you were the only person I'd ever cared for.

If I've ever cared for anybody, Arthur.

So... on the morning of the day that you marry me...

I will give you Robert Chiltern's letter.

That is my offer.

Are you quite serious?


Quite serious.

My dear Mrs. Cheveley.

I'm afraid I should make you a very bad husband.

I don't mind bad husbands, I've had two They amuse me immensely.

Here is a chance to rise to great heights of self-sacrifice, Arthur.

I think you should.

And the rest of your life you could spend in contemplating your own perfections.

I do that as it is.

For the privilege of being your wife...

I am ready to sacrifice the greatest prize in my possession.

I'm honored.

Arthur... you loved me once you asked me to be your wife... ask me again.

Ask me now.


My dear Mrs. Cheveley.

My dear Lord Goring.

Now I'm going to give you some good advice.

Pray, don't One should never give a woman anything she can't wear in the evening.

Oh, I'm sorry but I don't seem to be able to stop myself.

Now, I'm going to tell you... that love... about which I admit I know so little...

Love cannot be bought. It can only be given.

And I sense it is not in my power to give to you.

And nor is it in yours I suspect... at all.

Dear boy, you underestimate us both.

To give... and not expect return, hmm?

That is what lies at the heart of love.

I fear though the notion is a stranger to us both.

And yet... if we are honest... it is something we both long for something that it takes great courage to do.

Yes that is our dark secret.

Your coming here tonight is the first whisper of it.

And for that I admire you.

Give me the letter.

Prove your affections to me and give me the letter.

And surrender my position of power?

The future of a great man is in your hands, Mrs. Cheveley.

Crush him and your power dies with him... as will any feeling I've ever had for you.

If you ever loved me...

I did love you.

I know, I know.

But not that much.

I know, I must admit I never thought you did.

Even so, I felt it worth a try.

I understand and respect you all the more for the attempt.

And I take it you reject my offer?

I fear I must when tempting as it seems... in truth... is little more than blackmail.




I suddenly remembered you were due to meet Arthur.

Oh, at least somebody remembered.

You mean he's not here either?

Oh strange.

Gertrude, are you quite well?

Me? Yes, of course No, I'm not at all.

Could we talk?

Everything I have ever learned, indeed all that I believe, leads me to reject and revile him for what he has done.

And yet...

And yet?

...I have never known such joy as when I'm with him.

I've never felt so... free as when I'm lying in his arms.

Well, Arthur, I shall look out for you at the Commons... where at least I'll see your friend submit to my desires.

I wouldn't be too sure.

Come now, we both know how dearly he values his career.

I look froward to him proving you wrong I anticipate it keenly.

In fact, I'd stake my shirt on it.

Your shirt?

Indeed I think I'd probably wager my entire wardrobe on his integrity.

What confidence.

Would you stake your liberty?

My liberty?

A rather charming little idea has sprung into my head... and now I consider it, I discover it to be a rather charming, big idea.

Go on.

If as you suggest, he stands by his principles... condemns the scheme in question, then shall I give you his letter. dispose of as you choose.

But if as I project... he surrenders to my demands, and publicly supports the scheme then... then shall I give you my hand in marriage.


To dispose of as you please.

As a better man, you must concede there is a certain thrill to it.

Concede too how elegantly I've eased from proposal to proposition.

And with barely any loss of face. I'm most impressed indeed.

We are creatures of compromise, you and I.

I await your response. You're all of a sudden less certain of your friend's true nature... when your own future rests upon it.

Not at all I accept your wager in all confidence.

You do?

I do.

Oh, Arthur... isn't it remarkable how those two little words can quicken the heart?

Would you do something for me, Gertrude?

Would you accompany me to the House of Commons?

I believe there is a rather interesting debate there tonight.

I believe the Prime Minister himself has taken an interest.

And I believe... that its outcome will prove particularly interesting to you.

And to me.

Whatever it may be.


The Honourable Member for Witney.

Good evening, Chiltern.

Prime Minister.

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade... to what extent he believes the projected Argentine Canal... merits the nation's attention and support.

Mr. Speaker...

I believe this excellent scheme... represents a genuine opportunity... to extend our trading routes... and to stamp our authority on an increasingly vital... portion of the globe.

Didn't expect to see you here.

Nor did I But I find I have developed a sudden and very singular interest in politics.

Married yet?

Ask me again in half an hour.



The Honourable Member for Cheltenham.


I beg to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs... to clarify his position in respect to the proposed scheme.


Let me first of all thank the...

Honourable Member for his articulate contribution to the debate.

Since I last opportunity to investigate this scheme...

I have had the opportunity to investigate this scheme... more thoroughly... and to grasp fully the ramifications of our lending it support.

I have to inform the House... that I was... mistaken... in my original perceptions... and that I have now taken a rather different view.

I, I find that now I must agree with... my Right Honourable Friend that this is indeed an excellent scheme.

A genuine...opportunity.

An opportunity... particularly if you happen to be a corrupt investor...

a corrupt investor... with nothing but self-interest at heart.

For now it is my utter conviction that this scheme never should have had... or should ever have any chance of success.

It is a fraud an infamous fraud at that.

Our involvement would be a political fraud of the worst possible kind.

This great nation... has long been a great commercial power.

Now it seems there exists a growing compulsion to use that power... merely to beget more power.

Money merely to beget more money... irrespective of the true cost to the nation's soul.

And it is this sickness, a kind of moral blindness...

...commerce without conscience, which threatens to strike at the very soul of this nation.

And the only remedy that I can see is to strike back and to strike now!

Hear, hear!

As we stand as we stand at the end of this most... eventful century... it seems that we do, after all, have...

...a genuine opportunity.

One honest chance to shed our... sometimes imperfect past... to start again... to step unshackled into the next century... and to look our future squarely... and proudly in the face.


Gentlemen, if you please! Order!


You must agree, it has been a romantic interlude, Arthur.

You might even confess to some faint and secret regret at its outcome.

For I do indeed feel some slight relief that in the end...

...Sir Robert has come to no harm.


Oh yes, you see I'm not really quite as wicked as you suppose.

Mrs. Cheveley!

And a lady must always honour her bets.

Come back with me, Arthur.

Come back to Vienna.

Bravo, Sir Robert.

Seems I underestimated you.


I'm sorry if I've spoiled your plans.

Far more than yet you realize.

Ah, there at least is some small satisfaction.

Look, Robert, my dear fellow...

I have nothing to say to you, Lord Goring.

Nor is there anything I wish to hear.

I hope that now you are content... that I didn't disappoint you.

Robert, I...

Let women make no more ideals of men... or they may ruin other lives as completely as you.

You whom I have loved so wildly... have surely ruined mine.


I know there is no hope for us now.

I know you can never forgive me.

Poor man I almost begin to feel sorry for him.


Yes, I can't bear to see so upright a gentleman, so honourable an English gentleman... being so shamefully deceived.


And on such positively pink paper.

What are you talking about, Mrs. Cheveley?

"I need you after all I'm coming to you now."

You stole Gertrude's letter?

Losing a man is scant cause for concern... but losing a man to her is another matter entirely.

And so I feel it only right that Sir Robert should know, as indeed he shall... when the letter arrives at his office first thing in the morning.

You've got a good man there, Gertrude.

You should try to hold on to him.

Do you know, Laura... it occurs to me this whole business is really just about you and me.

Gertrude, I must speak with you.

Er, er, not now. Arthur. Please!

Gertrude, it's about that letter. The letter you wrote to me! come round in the morning, Arthur, I can't talk now.

Lord Goring?

Miss Mabel... about this evening, I... congratulations.

I beg your pardon?

I gather you are to be congratulated.

Well naturally...there's nothing I like more than to be congratulated... though invariably I find the pleasure immeasurably increased by knowing what for.

Oh, haven't you heard? You're to be married.

Your father says...

Does he?

Yes, he does.

Did he, by any chance, tell you to who?


But when we saw you with that woman Mrs. Cheeseley we naturally assumed...

Oh, did we?

Yes, we did.

Well the fact is... your assumptions are presumptuous.

You see...

I'm not sure... that I've seen anything I quite like the look of yet.

Oh, really?

Mum, really.

In which case I have something vitally important to say to you.

To look at a thing is quite different form seeing a thing.

And one does not see anything until one sees its beauty.

Yes. Really.

Oh, Mabel

Do you have something you wish to say to me, Lord Goring?, no I don't think so.

Then I don't wish to hear it.



I'm sure that nice Mr. Trafford will have something to say to me.

And I'm even surer...

I will be quite charmed to listen!


It is a great nuisance.

Can't find anyone else to talk to and I'm so full of interesting information.

I feel like the latest edition of something or other.

Well... after some consideration... there's so much to do there's only one thing to be done.

There comes a time in every son's life when he must, indeed... follow his father's advice.

I shall go to bed at once.

I do hope we see you in the near future, Mrs. Cheveley.

Oh, so do I. But I fear, Lady Markby, that for me... the future seems strangely uncertain.

And what of the present?

And what of the present?

Well, as a very dear friend once said to me, "To love oneself... is the beginning of a lifelong romance".

Goodbye, dear Lady Markby.

London will be the lesser for your leaving.

And sadly lacking in scandal.

Ah, but my dear Lady Markby... my personal favourite is shortly to unfold.

Consider it a parting gift.

Thank you, Mrs. Cheveley.

May I see it?

...that is what you were doing with that woman, Mrs. Cheveley.

Well it certainly didn't look that way.

Ah yes, but there's a great deal of difference between looking and seeing Isn't there, Miss Mabel?

Oh, my dear Arthur.

What a good friend you are to him.

To us.

But the truth is we, re not out of danger yet. In fact...

I believe there's a rather popular saying about frying pans and fires... only this time it is you and I, dear Gertrude, who are to be roasted.

Oh no, Arthur, I, I couldn't.

No, I couldn't.

I think it is better that he should know the exact truth.

So you want me to tell him that what?

That I intended a... secret... a secret rendezvous. Yes.

With a single man? And at such an hour?

You, you want me to tell him that?

It's scandalous, Arthur!

Well that may be but it's also the truth and in this case it may be our best option.

But I'm a married woman. I couldn't possibly tell him.

Well then, may I do it?

Certainly not!

And you must give me your word, Arthur, that you never will.

No, you are wrong, Gertrude!

But I will give you my word.

That you will never tell me what...

Lord Goring?


What does this mean?

I, Robert, I, I meant to give it to you last night But...

Last night?

Yes, when Gertrude sent it over but you left in such a hurry...

Oh, then, then... so this letter is intended for me?

Well, of co... oh my goodness... you didn't think, you couldn't possibly think that, you know...

The name, the, um... the address on the envelope is yours...

She knew that when you left here you would come to me at once, obviously.

Well, it stands to reason old man, come on.

It's true, Robert.

I delivered it myself.

You did? You did.


As you will remember, Gertrude after my rehearsals I called in for tea.

And, when you mentioned the letter...

I remarked that I was shortly to meet up with Lord Goring as we had an appointment... to visit the new Modern Art exhibition at the Grosvenor... which Quite frankly, apart from two studies in grey by whistler, was exceedingly forgettable.

And that's exactly what lord goring then proceeded to do.

Namely forget it... before he even saw it.

For, you see, he never appeared.

A fact which I find most upsetting, both on behalf of myself and Mr. Whistler.

And we're both deciding whether or not to forgive him.

In the meantime I delivered the letter myself to your office this morning.

And you know the fact of the matter is...

I still haven't heard a word of apology!

Umm. Sorry.

I forgive you.

Thank you.

Is this true?

"When you left... my life... my life fell apart."

"I need you after all."

Your life fell apart, Gertrude?


You, you need me, Gertrude?


Why did you not say that you loved me?

Oh, because I love you!

I, I do not care what... what punishment or disgrace is in store for me.

This letter of yours, Gertrude... makes me feel that nothing that the world can do can harm me now.

There's no disgrace in store for you, nor any public shame.


I, I don't understand.

We have much to thank him for, Robert.

When I finished my speech last night, I... felt sure that my future was in ruins.

And when you began it I wasn't so sure about my own.

I don't know how to thank you.

I'm sure I'll think of something.

Er, in the meantime I'd be grateful for the return of my hand.

Miss Mabel.

Miss Mabel.

Miss Mabel, wait.

I, Er...

I have something very particular to say to you.

Is it a proposal?

Well. Yes, it is.

It is?

I, I think it is.

Well yes or no?

Well, actuarially, yes I'm afraid it is.

I'm so glad.

That makes the second one today.


Oh dear, not...?

Yes...Tommy Trafford.

It is one of Tommy's days for proposing.

He always proposes on Thursdays during the season.

Ah...but today is Friday.

I know.

Today is special.

Well, you didn't accept him, did you?

I shall be in the conservatory under the second palm tree on the right.

The second palm tree on the right?

The usual palm tree.

And then we'll see how you do.

The usual?

Well, sir, what are you doing here?

Wasting your time as usual.

My dear father... when one pays a visit... it is for the purpose of wasting other people's time and not one's own.

What are you doing here?

I've important news for Chiltern.

A seat in the Cabinet.

Certainly, and you well deserve it too.

You have got what we want so much in political life nowadays... high character high moral tone Everything that you have not got, sir, and never will have.

I...cannot accept this offer, Lord Caversham.

I have decided to decline it.

Decline it, sir?

It is my intention to retire at once from public life.

Decline a seat in the Cabinet and retire from public life?

I never heard such damned nonsense in the whole course of my existence!

Oh, I beg your pardon, lady Chiltern.

Will you kindly prevent your husband from making such a...

I think my husband is right, Lord Caversham. I agree with him.

You agree? Good heavens.

I admire him for it.

I admire him immensely for it.

I shall write at once to the Prime Minister.

If you'll excuse me for a moment, Lord Caversham.

Lord Caversham.

What is the matter with this family?

There's something wrong

Idiocy. Hereditary perhaps... Both of them too.

Very sad. Very sad indeed.

They're not an old family.

I can't understand it.

Oh well, suppose I'd better go back to the Prime Minister and tell him Chiltern's the damnedest fool I ever met and won't take the seat.

Oh no, father, I would rather you did not quite. I'd rather you,took a seat yourself?

Why are you prating about?

Why don't you go in there for a while, father, hmm?

The second palm tree to the right, The usual palm.


There's somebody I want you to talk to.

What about?

About me, sir.


Not a subject on which much eloquence is possible.


Yes, Arthur, it is Robert himself who wishes to retire from public life.


It was he who first said so.

Rather than lose your love he would do anything Has he not been punished enough?

We've both been punished.

I set him up too high.

Do not then set him down now too low.

Dear Gertrude, it is not the perfect but the imperfect who have need of love.

You seem to know a great deal about everything all of a sudden.

I hope not.

All I do know... is that is takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory and still to love it.

And even more courage to see it in the one you love.

Dear Gertrude you have more courage than any woman I know.

Do not be afraid to use it.

Well Lady Caversham need never know.

Thank you, father.

Can't say I hold up much hope, old man.


Lord Goring?

You have something you wish to say to me?

Marry me, M...

Marry me, Miss Mabel.

Well...Lord Goring...

I must say this comes as quite a surprise.

Well, if you need time to consider, I'll just...


No, I don't need time, I need a reason.


A reason why you think I should marry you.

Oh, umm...

A reason you say?

A good one...yes.


May I?

Of course.


It is more than enough to know that you would sacrifice it when I asked.

We have, all of us, feet of clay, Robert.

Women as well as men.

Can it be that...

That you've forgiven me?

I sup... I suppose it must be that.

Oh goodness.

Hold me, Robert.

Forgive me.


Gertrude, my wife.

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

Is that your reason?


I love you.

I said Mabel I said...

I, I know.


Couldn't you...

Love me just a little bit in return?

Arthur... you silly...

If you knew anything about anything... which you don't...

You'd know that I absolutely adore you.


Well...why didn't you mention it before?

Because...dear boy...

You never would have believed me.

What the devil's going on in this house?


If the country doesn't go to the dogs or the radicals we'll have you prime Minister!

Thank you, Lord Caversham.

And Arthur...I only wish there was something I could do to repay you.

Well, Robert... as a matter of fact there is.

You are your sister's guardian.

I should like your consent to our marriage, that is all.

Oh, I'm so glad.

You wish to marry Mabel?


I'm sorry, Arthur, but the thing is quite out of the question.

Oh, Robert.

No, I have to consider Mabel's future happiness and as...

Much as I care for you, Arthur...

I don't think her happiness would be safe in your hands.

But I love Mabel.

No other woman has a place in heart.

Darling, if they truly love each other, why should they not be married?

I shall tell you.

When I called on Lord Goring.

Yesterday evening I found Mrs. Cheverley concealed in his rooms.

I then discovered... that they were at one time engaged to be married.

I'm very sorry, Mabel... but how can I possibly allow you to marry him when... when he's involved with another woman?

I'm sorry, Arthur.

It would be wrong of me.

It would be unjust to her.

Very well.

But, Arthur...


there is nothing I can say.


Arthur was as surprised as you... to find Mrs. Cheveley in his rooms last night.

He was expecting... quite another woman.

Another woman? What d'you mean?

Well, the truth is...

The business about Mabel and, Er, Mr. Whistler, well... you see that was just... my friends being kind, and, umm... protecting me.

Er well, the truth is... when I agreed to the story about the letter being intended for you and... not for Arthur well y... you see... the truth is...

the truth is...

I lied!



I need a drink.

Me too.

And if you don't make her an ideal husband, I'll cut you off with a shilling.

An ideal husband. I don't think I should like that.

What do you want him to be then, my dear?

I think he can be whatever he chooses.

You don't deserve her, sir.

My dear father, if we men married the women we deserved... we should have a very bad time of it.

You're heartless, sir, quite heartless.

Oh, I hope not, sir.

I hope not.