7.4/10
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70 user 47 critic

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)
Reviews
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 ... 13th Earl of Gurney
Arthur Lowe ... Tucker
William Mervyn William Mervyn ... Sir Charles Gurney
Coral Browne ... Lady Claire Gurney
James Villiers ... Dinsdale
Alastair Sim ... Bishop Lampton
Hugh Burden ... Matthew Peake
Peter O'Toole ... Jack 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. 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

Taglines:

How do you know you're... God? Simple when I pray to Him I find I'm talking to myself.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Musical

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter O'Toole and Peter Medak were previously supposed to work together on Figures in a Landscape (1970) but were replaced by Robert Shaw and Joseph Losey respectively. 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 film was trimmed to 148 minutes for US release, and was later cut to 141 minutes in order to fit on one videocassette (the longest available at the time). The Criterion DVD contains the original 154 min. version of the film. See more »

Connections

Featured in Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema: British Comedy (2021) See more »

Soundtracks

The Red Flag
(uncredited)
Music by Ernst Anschütz
Lyrics by Jim Connell
Performed by Arthur Lowe
See more »

User Reviews

 
Jesus Christ or Jack the Ripper? Or Just Peter O'Toole?
21 May 2007 | by evanston_dadSee 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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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French | Italian | German | Latin

Release Date:

15 September 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ruling Class See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Keep Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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