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Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime | 14 June 1950 (USA)
2:59 | Trailer

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A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Top Rated Movies #231 | Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Louis / Louis's father
The D'Ascoyne Family: The Duke / The Banker / The Parson / The General / The Admiral / Young Ascoyne / Young Henry / Lady Agatha
Audrey Fildes ...
Miles Malleson ...
The Hangman
Clive Morton ...
The Prison Governor
John Penrose ...
Cecil Ramage ...
Crown Counsel
Lord High Steward
John Salew ...
Mr. Perkins
Eric Messiter ...
Lyn Evans ...
The Farmer
Barbara Leake ...
The Schoolmistress
Peggy Ann Clifford ...


In prison awaiting execution the next morning Louis, the 10th Duke of Chalfont, sets down on paper the events that led him to his current situation. His mother has been banished from her family, the D'Ascoynes, after she married Louis' father who was considered far beneath her. After her death, the D'Ascoynes refused permission for her to be buried in the family crypt. Louis then plots his revenge - and kills all those ahead of him in the succession until he becomes the Duke. Along the way, he becomes involved with the married Sibelia who, when spurned, makes sure he ends up in prison. The day before his execution Sibelia recants her testimony saving him not only from the gallows but also sets him free. Once outside the prison however, he realizes he's forgotten one little thing........ Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

duke | prison | jealousy | heir | dukedom | See All (229) »


A hilarious study in the gentle art of murder. See more »


Comedy | Crime


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 June 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Adel verpflichtet  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Agatha's death in the film caused some consternation for Alec Guinness. The scene in question - a hot air ballooning accident filmed in a field next door to Pinewood Studios - prompted him to ask the producers if he was well insured. They told him that he was, to the tune of £10,000, but Guinness didn't think that was enough. He then declared that the balloon could not be raised any more than 15 feet unless they raised the insurance to £50,000. Ealing Studios was renowned for being very penny-pinching and it naturally refused Guinness' demand, pointing out that he would be accompanied in the balloon by a well-qualified Belgian balloonist hidden in the basket with him. Guinness was undeterred in his refusal to perform the stunt, so the scene in the finished film is not him but the Belgian balloonist wearing Agatha's dress and wig. Guinness had the last laugh, however, when a high wind pulled the balloon off course. The Belgian balloonist was found 50 miles away, having had to pitch into a river. See more »


When "The Hangman" (Miles Malleson) opens the peep-hole to the prisoner's cell, he moves the covering to the right, with a finger. After we are allowed to gaze at the back of the prisoner's neck for a few seconds, the shot reverts to the outside of the cell door; The Hangman releases the cover which closes from left to right, not right to left, as it should have done. See more »


[first lines]
Warder in Jail: Good evening, Mr. Elliot.
The Hangman: Good evening.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits list photos of the 4 leading actors with their character names; in the case of Alec Guinness, 8 photos of the 8 characters he plays are shown, along with the one character name of "The D'Ascoyne Family." In the end credits, the 8 character names are listed for him. See more »


Featured in Film Profile: Michael Balcon (1961) See more »


Il mio tesoro intanto
The Aria is
from Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (as Mozart)
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte (uncredited)
The music is played by The Philharmonia Orchestra
Conducted by Ernest Irving
Sung by an unidentified solist
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Deliciously dark and delightfully devilish.......
13 January 2005 | by (Maidenhead, UK) – See all my reviews

Kind Hearts and Coronets is Ealing comedy at it's pinnacle.

From Alec Guinness we see a masterly display of his acting talent, which we can now look back on with a knowing nod, but in 1949 this was a revelation of a new young talent. From Dennis Price we see the cool, calculated killer, totally focused and utterly charming in every way, and for whom every act of homicide must never, ever, offend the sensitive nature of the English Gentleman. From the supporting cast, we see great performances from Miles Malleson as the hangman, whose determination to address the Duke correctly leads him to practice his bowing, scraping, and 'Your Grace'-ing. Also, there is a great performance from Valerie Hobson as the widowed Edith D'Ascoyne. My favourite role (other than the lead) was Joan Greenwood as Sibella Holland - played in such a sultry, seductive way that I immediately thought of Fenella Fielding in Carry On Screaming!

This is a superb movie, and one I'd recommend to anyone who wants to truly understand how movies should be made.

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