With the passing of Sir John Hurt, the Oscar-nominated actor whose career spanned six decades and included films such as The Elephant Man and Harry Potter, has who died at the age of 77. Let us look at one of his earlier films about the autobiographical life story of Quentin Crisp: The Naked Civil Servant,
In 1975 the television version of The Naked Civil Servant, based on Quentin Crisp’s 1968 book of the same name was broadcast on British and US television and made both actor John Hurt and Crisp himself into stars.
Crisp as a youth enjoyed wearing make-up and painting his nails and worked as a rent-boy in his teens. He then spent thirty years as a professional model for life-classes in art colleges. The interviews he gave about his unusual life attracted increasing public curiosity and he was soon sought after for his highly individual views on social manners and the cultivating of style.
The Naked Civil Servant tells the story of his attempts to live his life as an openly and unapologetically flamboyant homosexual in an uncomprehending pre-war Britain. Reviled, harassed and eventually arrested (on a spurious charge of soliciting) in the Thirties and Forties, by the time of the film’s initial release in the mid-1970s, Crisp had become something of a national treasure – Britain’s self proclaimed “Stately Homo”.