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Kind Hearts and Coronets [VHS] [1949]

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Product details

  • Actors: Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood, Audrey Fildes
  • Directors: Robert Hamer
  • Writers: Robert Hamer, John Dighton, Roy Horniman
  • Producers: Michael Balcon, Michael Relph
  • Format: PAL, Black & White, Full Screen, HiFi Sound, Mono
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.37:1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Warner
  • VHS Release Date: 1 Oct 1999
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CJCQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 182,988 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

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?

From Amazon.co.uk

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

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 59 people found the following review helpful By hillbank68 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 April 2007
Format: DVD
This is one of the classic Ealing comedies which lingers long in the memory and leaves a very happy aftertaste. It is unique because of Alec Guinness's tour de force in personifying all the D'Ascoignes, but it has many other virtues too - the suave and solid work of Dennis Price and of Valerie Hobson, beautiful and remote with just a hint of earthy lustfulness, and Joan Greenwood, much more worldly and playful and every bit as characterful. The screenplay is full of intelligence - I have always enjoyed the superannuated parson's description of the west window of his church as having 'all of the exuberance of Chaucer without, happily, any of the concomitant crudities of his period' - and the plot is neat and clever, with the irony of Price's downfall resulting from the one death he was not responsible for and then, when all seems well after all, the strong hint that it may not be. I've seen the film a number of times and it always gives delight. It is one film which fully justifies the epithet 'well-liked', and that is just what it deserves to be.
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Mar 2001
Format: DVD
"Kind Hearts and Coronets" is probably the best of the
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.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By chris_linda@tesco.net on 11 Mar 2001
Format: DVD
This is one of my favourite films and and after a long wait for the DVD release, finally it came out and of course I snapped one up on the day it came out.
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.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Feb 2007
Format: DVD
"Kind hearts are more than coronets/And simple faith than Norman blood. - Lord Tennyson."

Tennyson could have been writing about the movie "Kind Hearts and Coronets," a wonderfully twisted movie all about killing one's relatives to get ahead in the world. This classic black comedy is blessed with excellent acting by Dennis Price and Alec Guinness, as well as some very inventive murders and wry dialogue.

A young lady of the D'Ascoyne family was ostracized when she married an Italian singer (he dropped dead when their son was born). Louis (Price) was raised hearing all about his noble relatives, but ignored by them -- and when his mother is refused burial at the family plot, and his devious girlfriend Sibella (Joan Greenwood) spurns him for a rich, dull man, he decides to become the next Duke.

To do that, he has to kill off several relatives, which he does in various ingenious ways. He's also wooing the widow of one such murdered relative, the kindly Edith (Valerie Hobson), while still frisking with Sibella. But you can't commit six murders -- no matter how clever -- without raising some suspicions, and soon Louis finds himself a Duke on death row... but is there a way out?

The whole story is told in flashback, as Louis writes his memoirs in his cell, and there's only a little bit after the memoirs' completion that explains what happened next. But from the first moments onward (the executioner getting excited about the "privilege" of hanging a duke), it's pretty obvious that "Kind Hearts and Coronets" has a rare, wicked sense of humor.

Much of that is through the irony (Louis is morally opposed to hunting, but not murder) and brilliantly dark dialogue ("I shot an arrow in the air; she fell to earth in Berkeley Square").
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Su TOP 100 REVIEWER on 10 Feb 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Kind hearts are more than coronets, and simple faith than Norman blood." - from the 1842 poem "Lady Clara Vere de Vere" by Alfred Lord Tennyson

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.
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