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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 4,464 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

Country:

Language:

| | |

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

Claire puts her arms around Jack's neck, but in next shot they are on his shoulders. 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 »


Soundtracks

Oh for the Wings of a Dove
(uncredited)
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Arranged by John Cameron
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User Reviews

 
Jesus Christ or Jack the Ripper? Or Just Peter O'Toole?
21 May 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

No other actor has had a career filled with more idiosyncratic roles than Peter O'Toole, and his role in "The Ruling Class" is perhaps the most idiosyncratic of them all.

O'Toole plays the heir to a British House of Lords who dies accidentally (and bizarrely), leaving his family to hash out the estate. The family is much disturbed by the fact that O'Toole is the heir -- understandably so, since he believes that he's Jesus Christ. Much wackiness ensues, until O'Toole has a change of perspective and decides that instead of Christ, he's Jack the Ripper. More wackiness ensues, the film gets darker and darker in that way that only British films can, and the whole thing may leave you scratching your head but will no doubt also leave you gloriously entertained.

For O'Toole fans, this is a chance to see him single-handedly carry a delirious mess of a movie on his shoulders, and make a rousing success out of it. Much of it doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's all a hoot, especially the impromptu musical numbers peppered throughout the film. There's some scathing satire aimed at the British class system, but it's nothing you haven't seen before, and the whole film has the feeling of being the pet project of an undisciplined director. But I highly recommend this, because you've never seen anything quite like it, and it's a chance to see one of our generation's greatest actors strutting his stuff like the pro that he is.

Grade: A


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