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Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Crime | 14 June 1950 (USA)
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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.

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Writers:

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

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 June 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Adel verpflichtet  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title refers to the following lines from Alfred Lord Tennyson's 1842 poem "Lady Clara Vere de Vere": "Kind hearts are more than coronets, And simple faith than Norman blood." See more »

Goofs

When Louis is attacked with a knife, he punches the assailant, knocking him cold. Although a sound effect is heard, you can see that the punch doesn't connect. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in Breakfast: Episode dated 18 August 2011 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

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
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Quite superb
9 July 2001 | by See all my reviews

This fine film is an example of Ealing at its very best, with a superlative script and acting of a very high standard. In watching, one is once more all too sadly aware of the difference in quality between British films of this era and today; there can't have been in recent times a screenplay as cleverly comic, economical and incisive as this is. The level of wit is high, and perfectly suitable for a black comedy such as this. Certain lines and scenes linger agreeably in the memory; the part where Price, in his droll narration, slips into verse, is wonderful, as is the "fight" he has with a lower-class rival; "I'm not going to drawn into a scuffle with you!"

The element of class satire is strong, and while one is shown the lethargy and complacency of the upper classes through the amusing parade of Alec Guinness' characters, Price's corrupt plans are never condemned as such. His character, vigorous and witty, and the clever tool of narration, which in its tone draws in the viewer almost as a confidant. Similarly, but to an even more effective degree than in "Whisky Galore!" (1948) and "The League of Gentlemen" (1959), the viewer is made sympathetic to wrong-doings. The stunningly executed plot and dialogue are finely put across indeed by all of the actors. In the main role, Price refines and defines the cad Mancini perfectly; it really is a great performance, making the character more than memorable. Alec Guinness is great in his 8 roles, making a distinctive actorly mark in all of them. It says a lot that in a career as formidable as Guinness', in TV, film and theatre, his contribution to this film particularly stands out. The two ladies are impeccably played by Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood, who contrast quite perfectly; Hobson as rich and strait-laced if certainly beautiful, and Greenwood as the distinctively seductive childhood friend. Price's "juggling" of his two women is wonderfully arch and amusing. The film's ending should be noted as quite ingenious and wonderfully in keeping with the film's overall wit.

In the context even of Ealing, a studio adept at clever comedies, this is an extra-special film. Along with the films of this era of Powell and Pressburger and Carol Reed, this film makes one nostalgic for the days when British film was both distinctively British and universal in its qualities. Wonderfully funny and compelling, this film is one of my few favourites of all and overwhelmingly recommended.

Rating:- *****/*****


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