Synopses & Reviews
In Kind Hearts and Coronets
(1949) Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) schemes and murders his way to a dukedom. Robert Hamer's pitch-black comedy of manners is legendary for having Alec Guinness play all of Louis's rivals and targets--among them the doddering Reverend Lord Henry D'Ascoyne and the formidably militant suffragette Lady Agatha D'Ascoyne. Perhaps the greatest Ealing comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets
is equally a brilliant satire of the English class system and a playful drama of doubles and confused identity.
Hamer was a heavy drinker whose career would soon go off the rails; Price was gay and troubled. Michael Newton looks into the turbulent personalities that formed the complex style of Kind Hearts and Coronets, with its dandies and blackmailers, aristocrats and assassins. And he unravels that style's fusion of cynicism, contempt, sparkling wit and philosophical curiosity. 'It is very funny,' Newton says, 'and, in a demonically subtle way, very wise. And for the bitter, the easy self-deprecators, the procrastinators, the snobs, the junkies of possibility, the flirts, the wits, the wastrels . . . it is perhaps the perfect movie.'
Launched in 1992, BFI Film Classics is a series of finely written, beautifully illustrated books which honor the great films of world cinema. Each book presents the author's own insights into a film of their choice, chosen from a list of 360 key films selected by the National Film and Television Archive.
In Kind Hearts and Coronets"(1949), Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) schemes and murders his way to a dukedom. This title looks into the turbulent personalities that formed the complex style of this film to unravel the fusion of cynicism, contempt, sparkling wit and philosophical curiosity.
One of Britain's best loved films, a comedy masterpiece . Perhaps the greatest Ealing comedy.
About the Author
Michael Newton is the author of Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children (Faber, 2002). He teaches at University College London, Central St Martins School of Art, and Princeton University.