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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)
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

King Lear, act 3, scene4, verse 21, "That way madness lies." is quoted by Jack Gurney when he runs up the stairs in the garden. See more »

Goofs

After the doctor arrives at the manor, Tucker pours drinks. The drink jumps from his hand to the tray. 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

References La traviata (1967) See more »

Soundtracks

Goodnight (I'm Only a Strolling Vagabond)
(uncredited)
Music by Eduard Künneke
English lyric by Adrian Ross
Performed by Arthur Lowe
See more »

User Reviews

 
"My name is Jack!"
14 March 2005 | by David_FramesSee all my reviews

A scathing and profoundly witty attack on Britain's social and political institutions with Peter O'Toole on his best ever form as Jack, the Son of an English Earl who inherits his Father's estate when the old man accidentally kills himself via auto-erotic asphyxiation. The only problem for Jack's relatives is that he's a paranoid Schziophrenic who thinks he's Jesus and they're quick to move for his indefinite committal when he starts to talk about the relinquishing of material possessions and tolerance toward all men. The Ruling Class is a film of two halves. The first is some of the best character comedy you'll ever see. As "JC" who wears glasses because he's cold, O'Toole commands every scene benefiting from some superbly written monologues and one liners, the standout being his pre-wedding speech on the cross and he's assisted by the creme de la creme of British character actors, Arthur Lowe a standout as the newly liberated Trokskyite Butler Tuck with a blatant contempt for his old masters. The second half however, is dark stuff indeed - jet black in fact. Apparenty 'cured' after an arranged confrontation with the AC-DC messiah, Jack dresses as a Victorian gentleman, talks about capital punishment and superior breeding and concerns no-one, the fact he believes himself to be Jack the Ripper going completely unnoticed by his peers who prime him for his climatic accession to the House of Lords. The conceit is milked for all its worth and the final scenes with a hallucinatory Jack looking at his fellow peers in the House as decayed corpses is a particularly chilling postscript to the story. Subtle? No way but its sledgehammer to the concept of patronage and privilege as a criteria for governance and influence. Like the best satire its savage, angry stuff - possibly overlong and too conscious of its theatrical origins but ultimately no less caustic or inventive for it. Class indeed.


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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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