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Kind Hearts And Coronets [DVD]
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Classic Ealing comedy in which an embittered aristocrat sets out to murder the eight heirs that stand between him and succession to the family title. Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) holds no love for the aristocratic family he counts as relations, the D'Ascoynes. The family cast his mother out when she decided to marry a 'commoner', Louis's father, and on her death refuse to allow her to be buried in the family vault. An outraged Louis vows revenge and begins working his way into the trust of the family to provide him with the opportunity to bump off the male heirs (all played by Alec Guinness) one by one. However, complications arise when he becomes romantically entangled with one of the widows of his victims, Edith D'Ascoyne (Valerie Hobson). Will Louis be able to stay the course and murder his way to a Dukedom?
Set in Victorian England, Robert Hamer's 1949 masterpiece Kind Hearts and Coronets remains the most gracefully mordant of Ealing Comedies. Dennis Price plays Louis D'Ascoyne, the would-be Duke of Chalfont whose Mother was spurned by her noble family for marrying an Italian singer for love. Louis resolves to murder the several of his relatives ahead of him in line for the Dukedom, all of whom are played by Alec Guinness, in order to avenge his Mother--for, as Louis observes, " revenge is a dish which people of taste prefer to eat cold". He gets away with it, only to be arraigned for the one murder of which he is innocent. Guinness' virtuoso performances have been justly celebrated, ranging as they do from a youthful D'Ascoyne concealing his enthusiasm for public houses from his priggish wife ("she has views on such places") to a brace of doomed uncles and one aunt, ranging from the doddery to the peppery. Miles Malleson is a splendid doggerel-spouting hangman, while Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood take advantage of unusually strong female roles. But the great joy of Kind Hearts and Coronets is the way in which its appallingly black subject matter (considered beyond the pale by many critics at the time) is conveyed in such elegantly ironic turns of phrase by Dennis Price's narrator/anti-hero. Serial murder has never been conducted with such exquisite manners and discreet charm. --David Stubbs --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ealing comedies. The acting, the characters, the storyline and
especially the wonderful black humour blend together perfectly. What's
more, the print used by Warner Home Video for this DVD release is
absolutely immaculate...unfortunately it's also in French!!! Whilst
the DVD contains an English soundtrack, the opening credits and even
parts of the film appear on screen in French (such as a letter written
by Louis D'Ascoyne). I thought at first that they'd put the wrong disc
inside the case, however the small print on the back confirms it is
indeed the French version. With the possibility of further Ealing
comedies being released on DVD in the future, I made my feelings =
known to Warner by returning this DVD for a refund. Five stars for the
film, none for this poor DVD.
Imagine my disappointment when I played it and all the written material in the film (credits, letters, a warning sign) was in French! I purchased the disk from a UK store so am mystified about this.
Needless to say I returned the disk and now await a proper re-release appropriate to the UK market. Five stars to the film itself, but zero stars for the UK DVD release.
This is one of the great Ealing comedies. A truly great family film, which is both funny and profound.
Released in 1950 and staring the late, great and extremely underrated Dennis Price as Louis Mazzini and Alec Guinness as all 8 members of the D'Ascoyne family.
His quest was to extract revenge for the treatment of his mother by the D'Ascoyne family. His mother, a member of the D'Ascoyne family, had married for love not for status or money and was therefore disowned. After her death she was refused burial in the family crypt and this was the tipping point for Louis. He decides that the only way to get revenge is to become the Duke. Unfortunately for Louis there are 8 other D'Ascoynes in the way, he must dispose of them all before he can become Duke.
This is my favourite film, it is the one that I come back to time after time, because of this I highly recommend this film.
Oh, and my favourite line is: "It is so difficult to make a neat job of killing people with whom one is not on friendly terms." It tells you so much about the tone of the film. Enjoy.
I wish I could say that this release lives up to the film's reputation, or my expectations. But it is flawed in a major way. For reasons known only to the themselves, Optimum chose to letterbox the film on all four sides of the picture, leaving a small picture in the center of the screen. This was a conscious choice on their part as bonus features on the disc are presented in normal full-screen mode.
On a standard 4:3 picture tube, therefore, we see black bars on all four sides of the small picture. It should, of course, fill the entire screen as it was filmed in the standard 4:3 format of the day.
The picture will be even smaller on a widescreen TV, relative to the entire screen. One can zoom in to fill the screen top to bottom but resolution is lost thereby, somewhat defeating the improvements of the digital restoration.
In the interests of full disclosure, there should be a warning on the package and on this page regarding Optimum's manufacturing choice. I found it most disconcerting, and one which made it impossible for me to enjoy a film which I love and admire.
As for the commentary, it is less interesting and weaker than I'd hoped for. Two critics share a few good anecdotes and facts but, aside from that, it boils down to their thrilling at the fabulous campiness of the stars, especially Joan Greenwood.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A classic film - could and will watch it over and over! British film making at its best.Published 1 month ago by sooz
I love the old Ealing films so it was a joy to find this one. Its hilarious and Alec Guiness as always is a brilliant actor. Read morePublished 2 months ago by gecko girl
Not only is this Black Comedy by far the best of the classic Ealing Comedies but it would probably rate as one of the top ten British films of all time in any genre. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mr. Brian J. Harris
One of the all time class movies Alec Guinness playing all eight characters with a completely different style and panache and well supported by ta very sardonic Dennis Price... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dennis Peters
Gem of a film, now slightly dated. Guinness does eight characters of same family being bumped off.Published 4 months ago by Ian Patterson
The acting and story line are particularly fine. so is the quality of the DVDPublished 4 months ago by Marcus C.