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The Ruling Class (1972)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Music  |  25 May 1972 (UK)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 4,466 users  
Reviews: 63 user | 40 critic

A member of the House of Lords dies, leaving his estate to his son. Unfortunately, his son thinks he is Jesus Christ. The other somewhat-more respectable members of their family plot to steal the estate from him. Murder and mayhem ensues.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Hugh Owens ...
...
...
William Mervyn ...
Coral Browne ...
James Villiers ...
Dinsdale Gurney
...
Bishop Lampton
Hugh Burden ...
Matthew Peake
...
Michael Bryant ...
Henry Woolf ...
Inmate
Griffith Davies ...
Inmate
Oliver MacGreevy ...
Inmate (as Oliver McGreevy)
Kay Walsh ...
Patsy Byrne ...
Mrs. Pamela Treadwell
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Storyline

A member of the House of Lords dies in a shockingly silly way, leaving his estate to his son. Unfortunately, his son is insane: he thinks he is Jesus Christ. The other somewhat-more respectable members of their family plot to steal the estate from him. Murder and mayhem ensues. Written by Mark Logan <marklo@west.sun.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Music

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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| | |

Release Date:

25 May 1972 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Classe Dominante  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's writer, Peter Barnes, went to school just outside Bristol, in Stroud. Also just outside of Bristol is a mental hospital, in the village of Barrow Gurney; "Barrow Gurney" has long been associated in local patois with mental illness. Naming the central family in this play "Gurney" seems more than mere coincidence. See more »

Goofs

When singing "Dem Bones" outside the pub, the rightmost rider in white breeches goes from standing to kneeling between shots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Toastmaster: My Lords. Gentlemen. Pray silence for Ralph Douglas Christopher Alexander Gurney, the thirteenth Earl of Gurney.
13th Earl of Gurney: The aim of the Society of Saint George is to keep Gurney a memory of England. We were once the rulers of the greatest empire the world has ever known. Ruled not by superior force or skill, but by sheer presence.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Kes
(uncredited)
from Kes (1969)
Music by John Cameron
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User Reviews

 
"My name is Jack!"
14 March 2005 | by See all my reviews

A scathing and profoundly witty attack on Britain's social and political institutions with Peter O'Toole on his best ever form as Jack, the Son of an English Earl who inherits his Father's estate when the old man accidentally kills himself via auto-erotic asphyxiation. The only problem for Jack's relatives is that he's a paranoid Schziophrenic who thinks he's Jesus and they're quick to move for his indefinite committal when he starts to talk about the relinquishing of material possessions and tolerance toward all men. The Ruling Class is a film of two halves. The first is some of the best character comedy you'll ever see. As "JC" who wears glasses because he's cold, O'Toole commands every scene benefiting from some superbly written monologues and one liners, the standout being his pre-wedding speech on the cross and he's assisted by the creme de la creme of British character actors, Arthur Lowe a standout as the newly liberated Trokskyite Butler Tuck with a blatant contempt for his old masters. The second half however, is dark stuff indeed - jet black in fact. Apparenty 'cured' after an arranged confrontation with the AC-DC messiah, Jack dresses as a Victorian gentleman, talks about capital punishment and superior breeding and concerns no-one, the fact he believes himself to be Jack the Ripper going completely unnoticed by his peers who prime him for his climatic accession to the House of Lords. The conceit is milked for all its worth and the final scenes with a hallucinatory Jack looking at his fellow peers in the House as decayed corpses is a particularly chilling postscript to the story. Subtle? No way but its sledgehammer to the concept of patronage and privilege as a criteria for governance and influence. Like the best satire its savage, angry stuff - possibly overlong and too conscious of its theatrical origins but ultimately no less caustic or inventive for it. Class indeed.


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