Looking for a budget: Salome's Last Dance
Ken Russell filming Oscar Wilde´s Salome in 1988. Like The Boyfriend, Russell films the staging of a play- Wilde´s biblical story of Salome who dances the seven veils and demands as a price the head of John. And like The Boyfriend an unknown becomes the star of the show. Russell has Wilde watching the privately staged performance and interacting throughout. The story takes place in real-time.
An erotic film packed with imagery. I hated it the first time I saw it, now I love it. The acting is good throughout with Glenda Jackson on form, and Stratford Johns giving his best performance ever.
To save money the music was made up of out-of-copyright compositions. It was filmed at the Cannon Studio in Barnet. The schedule was three weeks.
Linzi Drew, one of the slave girls says "When
Salome premiered in the West End, Ken thought it would be a gas to turn
up in an open-topped limousine accompanied by his topless slave girls.
We travelled through central London, our gold-tipped bosoms bared, and
we were even given a police escort on the way".
Imogen Millais Scott is really good as the young maid who takes on the role of the erotic Salome. It is her first acting role.
Glenda Jackson plays Lady Alice and Herod´s wife. A subtle performance. Television actor Stratford Johns has appeared in two Russell films, Lair of the White Worm is the other.
Nickolas Grace is good as Oscar Wilde watching the performance of his play. Russell regular Imogen Claire has a small role, as does Linzi Drew from Aria and Lair. Cinematography is by Harvey Harrison, the editor is Timothy Gee.
Russell himself makes an appearance as the bearded cameraman Kenneth. The beard is so deliberately false it looks like shaving cream or something. He is credited as Alfred Russell. Russell also wrote the screenplay which includes Wilde´s play, translated from the original French by Vivian Russell.
Costume designer is
Michael Arrals, with the set designed by Christopher
The scenery of the play with the artificial moon and clouds. It is similar to the scenery in the 19th century films of Meliés (below).
The initial scene of the play, and the seven veils dance.
within a play.
Other films released in the same year include Rainman, A Fish
Called Wanda and The Last Temptation of Christ as well as Russell's Lair of
the White Worm.