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Kind Hearts and Coronets [VHS] 
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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
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.
Extras are :
Introduction by John Landis 3 mins.
A documentary tribute to Dennis Price 26 mins.
BBC radio essay 15 mins.
Alternative American ending 3 mins.
Restoration comparison 6 mins.
Excerpts from BECTU with Douglas Slocombe 29 mins.
Trailer 3 mins.
Commentary by film critic Peter Bradshaw and director Terence Davies.
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").Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An absolute classic! A film that is throughout, dare I say, superbly executed (ahem). Dennis Price is superb but Alec Guinness truly magnificent in his roles. A must have! Read morePublished 2 months ago by Halantow
Very slow paced, I mean not much is going on in those paces either.
But if you are interesting in Dukes, and Barons and heirs, and have an intense desire to watch every... Read more
The very best of the best. Truly, I hope no one ever attempts a remake. Alec Guinness is outstanding as the d'Ascoynes, Lady Agatha particularly!Published 5 months ago by x333xxx
A classic film - could and will watch it over and over! British film making at its best.Published 7 months ago by sooz