A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
In prison awaiting execution the next morning, Louis, the 10th Duke of Chalfont, puts 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
Sir Alec Guinness took his extensive roles very seriously, always showing up to work every day thoroughly professional and prepared. Playing eight different roles did come with its challenges, however. "Quick transformation from one character to another has a disturbing effect", he told Collier's Magazine in 1952. "I had to ask myself from time to time: 'Which one am I now?' I had fearful visions of looking like one of the characters and thinking and speaking like one of the others. It would have been quite disastrous to have faced the cameras in the make-up of the suffragette, and spoken like the Admiral." See more »
When Louis is crossing out the twins on the family tree, a rubbed out cross from an earlier take is visible. See more »
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 »
The ending of the US version was extended to show the guards discovering Louis Mazzini's written memoirs/confessions to make it clear to the audience that he did not get away with the murders of his relatives, whilst the UK version remains ambiguous on the subject. See more »
Kind Hearts and Corrents is in a sense an extrapolation of Jane Austin's satire of the English aristocracy. Where Austin gives the reader a sarcastic insight into their ways of life, Kind Hearts and Correnets kills the English aristocracy off, as if to symbolise their slow demise within modernity. But, as this film illustrates the aristocracy has methods of survival via its never ending line of descendants ready to take on hereditary titles. Ironically, the survival of the dukedom in this film is due to the actual banished heir to that title murdering his relatives who stand in his way. If you like, this is an illustration of how there will always be an aristocracy of sorts, in the form of rulers in all types of societies, as illustrated in George Orwell's Animal Farm. This is because as the famous psychologist Erich Fromm says, as a conservative society we have a 'fear of freedom' and depend on being subordinates of rulers, like children to their parents. In Kind Hearts and Correnets we see an example of this when the duke performs his paternalistic duty for his dependant proletariat.
The irony is that the lead actor, Dennis Price, in Kind Hearts and Corerenets is a descendant of minor aristocracy, himself deprived of his title due to the paternalistic line being directed away from him. In this case he plays the part of the denounced heir superbly. Meanwhile Valery Hobson shines out as a beautiful, elegant lady, which could be less to do with acting skills and more about playing herself.
As for Sir Alec Guiness, it goes without saying that he steals the film, with his range of acting talents, here some of them showcased in all the characters he plays.
In the case of the screenplay, it is wittily directed, well paced, entertaining, and never for a second boring. This permits a distraction for the viewer, and the overlooking of the minor flaw of how there were no accusations pointed towards the lead character which are to the viewer easily detectable given that he was present at most of the murders of his arosticratic relatives.
Overall, an ageless classic.
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