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The Ruling Class (1972)

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 ensue.

Director:

Peter Medak

Writers:

Peter Barnes (screenplay), Peter Barnes (play)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Hugh Owens Hugh Owens ... Toastmaster
Harry Andrews ... Ralph Gurney - 13th Earl of Gurney
Arthur Lowe ... Daniel Tucker
William Mervyn William Mervyn ... Sir Charles Gurney
Coral Browne ... Lady Claire Gurney
James Villiers James Villiers ... Dinsdale Gurney
Alastair Sim ... Bishop Bertie Lampton
Hugh Burden ... Matthew Peake
Peter O'Toole ... Jack Arnold Alexander Tancred Gurney - 14th Earl of Gurney
Michael Bryant ... Dr. Herder
Henry Woolf ... Inmate
Griffith Davies Griffith Davies ... Inmate
Oliver MacGreevy Oliver MacGreevy ... Inmate (as Oliver McGreevy)
Kay Walsh ... Mrs. Piggott-Jones
Patsy Byrne Patsy Byrne ... Mrs. Pamela Treadwell
Edit

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 | Musical

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French | Italian | German | Latin

Release Date:

25 May 1972 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A Classe Dominante See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Keep Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jack's maiden speech before the House of Lords as the Earl of Gurney concludes with a near-perfect quotation of three passages from the King James Bible: Deuteronomy 20:3, Deuteronomy 20:4 and Ezekiel 7:9. ("Approach this day unto battle against your enemies. Let not your hearts faint, fear not and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them. For the Lord your God is He that goeth with you to fight for you against your enemies to save you. And mine eyes shall not spare, neither will I have pity. I will recompense them according to their ways and their abominations that are in the midst of them. And they shall know that I am the lord that smiteth.") See more »

Goofs

After falling, Charles' hand is inside his jacket, but in the next cut, his hand is extended along the floor. 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 »

Alternate Versions

The 2001 UK Momentum release featured the shorter 123 minute print. The Optimum DVD is a port of the U.S Criterion release and features the full 153 minute UK cinema version (minus the original BBFC cinema cut to a shot of a vivisected rat in a laboratory). See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Hail, Caesar! (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Wedding March
(uncredited)
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Arranged by John Cameron
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Excellent dark comedy with biting social commentary.
24 October 1999 | by Deb.See all my reviews

This is an excellent movie, but don't watch it expecting it to be purely a dark comedy. There is a lot of humor in it--often very bizarre humor--but it is primarily a very powerful statement about what can happen when, for the sake of social acceptability, a human mind is forced into a mold that doesn't fit. In my opinion, the British ruling class was chosen to illustrate this point only because they do have very rigid rules about what kind of behavior is socially acceptable and what is simply "not done." It's statement about the dangers of excessive self-repression apply equally to us all.


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