The Wicked Lady (1983 film)

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The Wicked Lady
The Wicked Lady FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Michael Winner
Written by Leslie Arliss
Michael Winner
additional dialogue
Gordon Glennon
Aimée Stuart
Based onnovel The Life and Death of the Wicked Lady Skelton by Magdalen King-Hall
Produced by Yoram Globus
Menahem Golan
Starring Faye Dunaway
Alan Bates
John Gielgud
Denholm Elliott
Hugh Millais
Cinematography Jack Cardiff
Edited byMichael Winner
Music by Tony Banks
Distributed by Columbia-EMI-Warner Distributors (United Kingdom) [1]
MGM/UA (United States)
Release date
  • 22 July 1983 (1983-07-22)
Running time
98 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget$8 million (est.) [2] or $15 million [3]
Box office$724,912 [2] [4]
Faye Dunaway being fitted for a wig by Paul Huntley for the film. Faye Dunaway and Paul Huntley During A Wig Fitting For The Wicked Lady.png
Faye Dunaway being fitted for a wig by Paul Huntley for the film.

The Wicked Lady is a 1983 British-American drama film directed by Michael Winner and starring Faye Dunaway, Alan Bates, John Gielgud, Denholm Elliott, and Hugh Millais. It was screened out of competition at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival. [5] It is a remake of the 1945 film of the same name, which was one of the popular series of Gainsborough melodramas.



Caroline is to be wed to Sir Ralph and invites her sister Barbara to be her bridesmaid. Barbara seduces Ralph, and marries him herself, but, despite her new wealthy situation, she gets bored and turns to highway robbery for thrills.

While on the road she meets a famous highwayman, Jerry Jackson, and they continue as a team, but some people begin suspecting her identity and she risks death if she continues her nefarious activities.




Michael Winner bought the rights from the Rank Organisation and took the film to Faye Dunaway, who agreed to star in the leading role. Winner then raised finance from the Cannon Group in February 1982. [8] [9]

In March John Gielgud and Alan Bates agreed to star and the budget was set at $15 million. Winner called the film " Bonnie and Clyde in the 17th century." [3]

In May Dunaway also announced she would make a second film for Cannon, Duet for One which would be directed by her then-boyfriend Terry O'Neill along with Dede Allen. [10]

Menahem Golan of Cannon said that "stars who would never have worked with us before are now happy to sign. We pay them peanuts - but we give them big percentages. Faye, Alan and John were happy to sign for The Wicked Lady because they have 50% of the film. And we have small overheads, so they'll get their money." Dunaway said, "I really feel it will be a fun picture. A period romp, it's a mixture between Bonnie and Clyde and Tom Jones." [10]


"This is the only film I've ever enjoyed making," said Dunaway on set. "Everything I've done in the past has been so full of anguish, though that's partly my fault, I'm sure." She said the film "came at the right time for me. I needed something light after making Mommie Dearest, which was decidedly harrowing." [8]

The actor Mark Burns appeared in The Wicked Lady as King Charles II, but during the filming director Michael Winner could not afford to pay him even the Equity union minimum fee. Burns told him to make a donation to the Police Memorial Trust, which was run by Winner. Years later, when Burns appeared at a magistrate's court on a charge of speeding, Winner, appearing as a character witness, told the bench that the actor had given "his entire fee" for a major film to the fund and Burns was subsequently discharged. [11]


The film included a scene where Faye Dunaway's character has a whip fight with Jackson's Girl (Marina Sirtis). The British censor insisted this scene be cut before the film was given an X certificate. Winner got various colleagues to watch the film and write letters of protest to the censor in support of the film and the scene. These included Derek Malcolm, Kingsley Amis, Lindsay Anderson, and Fay Weldon. Winner's appeal was successful and the film was released uncut. [12]


The film received a Razzie Award nomination for Faye Dunaway as Worst Actress. [13]


The soundtrack for the film was composed by Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks.

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  1. "The Wicked Lady (1983)". BBFC . Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  2. 1 2 Andrew Yule, Hollywood a Go-Go: The True Story of the Cannon Film Empire, Sphere Books, 1987 p43-45
  3. 1 2 Meryl Streep to star in 'Sophie's Choice' Chicago Tribune 20 Mar 1982: b14.
  4. The Wicked Lady at Box Office Mojo
  5. "Festival de Cannes: The Wicked Lady". Retrieved 21 June 2009.
  6. Walker, Tim (5 February 2013). "Why Michael Winner was never a ladies' man". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  7. Full cast of The Wicked Lady at the Internet Movie Database.
  8. 1 2 FAYE DUNAWAY: ENJOYING LIFE ON THE SCREEN AGAIN Mann, Roderick. Los Angeles Times 26 Oct 1982: g1.
  9. AT THE MOVIES; Why Nolte stopped being a stage actor. Chase, Chris. New York Times 19 Feb 1982: C.16.
  11. Evans, Peter (19 July 2007). "Mark Burns". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  12. The lady who beat the censor Malcolm, Derek. The Guardian 15 Mar 1983: 17.
  13. Razzie Awards for 1984 at the Internet Movie Database.