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Ken Russell budget films

Salome's Last Dance

Ken Russell Salomes Last Dance Glenda Jackson

"Salome's Last Dance... by director Ken Russell, whose contribution to burlesque in the cinema has not been excelled,  The film was insufficiently funded for a masterpiece, but it achieves a lot on a small budget" (George Colerick, From The Italian Girl to Cabaret, Juventus, 1998, ch 23)

Salome's Last Dance, Ken Russell filming Oscar Wilde´s Salome in 1988.

Wilde's French play from 1891 had problems "The London cast of Salome were two weeks into rehersal when the censor withdrew permission for the play.  Not, as we might assume, on grounds of sex, or of violence, or of decadence, or of simply being French, but under an ancient but suddenly uswful law whihc frobade the portrayal on the Britihs stage of biblial chracters" (Julian Barnes, The Man in the Red Coat, 2019, page 146).

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" (Linzi Drew, Try Everything Once Except Incest and Morris Dancing, 1993) .

Salome Last Dance

"As for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the goofy undertaking and found myself easily getting into the madcap gaiety of Russell’s lurid and self-indulgent spoof" (eenableadmin, Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews, 5 Aug 2019, click here).


Ken Russell Salome

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 in Salomes Last Dance   Stratford Johns in Salomes Last Dance

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.

Ken Russell in Salome

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 Hobbs.

Best Image

Ken Russell Salomes Last Dance

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).

Melies Voyage to the Moon

Best Scene

Imogen Millais Scott in Ken Russell Salome Last Dance

The initial scene of the play, and the seven veils dance.


The play within a play.
The incestuous relationship.


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. 

Rainman  A Fish Called Wanda  The Last Temptation of Christ  Salome's Last Dance



More films

Click title for film French Dressing * Billion Dollar Brain * Women in Love * The Music Lovers* The Devils * The Boy Friend * Savage Messiah * Mahler * Tommy * Lisztomania * Valentino * Altered States * Crimes of Passion * Gothic * Aria * The Lair of the White Worm * Salome's Last Dance * The Rainbow * Whore


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