Based on the autobiography of Quentin Crisp (John Hurt), The Naked Civil Servant begins with an introduction by Crisp himself. In England in the late 1920s Quentin is a teenager living at home with his middle-class parents. He is starting to become aware that he does not find women sexually attractive. His parents seek medical advice to find out what is wrong with him and ultimately send him off to Art College. They are relieved when he makes friends with a female student, although this relationship is platonic.
When Quentin meets a transvestite prostitute he discovers make-up and that he enjoys being an exhibitionist. He dyes his hair red and is open about his homosexuality. This causes him to be rejected and he is regularly abused, verbally and physically. Even the gay community rejects him because he is far too obviously gay. He starts work as a prostitute and then when he meets his first boyfriend ‘Thumbnails’ (Colin Higgins), leaves home.
Quentin is not allowed to serve in the army during the Second World War because of his ‘sexual perversion’.
Things go wrong for Quentin again when he is arrested for soliciting in London’s West End, but he gives such a good speech in the witness box that the case is thrown out of court.
In 1945, at the end of the war, Quentin begins his third long-term relationship; however his lover is institutionalized and eventually commits suicide.
“Director Jack Gold handles the material with taste, discretion, and a generous supply of humor.”
— The New York Times
“The film’s approach is often as iconoclastic as its subject and rich with humor.”
“The Naked Civil Servant is still one of the most pivotal works in the LGBT pop culture canon that helped further mainstream awareness and acceptance.”
— Alistair Ryder, Gay Essential
Did You Know?
Whilst The Naked Civil Servant was being shot, John Hurt realized he had painted Quentin Crisp when Crisp was a life studies model and Hurt was at art school. It was the last film for the actors Frank Forsyth and Lloyd Lamble. Philip Mackie wrote the screenplay, based on Quentin Crisp’s own autobiography. John Hurt went on to play Quentin Crisp again in An Englishman in New York. Review our Gay Themed Films Here
Read our Film Review The Naked Civil Servant