7.5/10
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65 user 42 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)
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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 ... 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
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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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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French | Italian | German | Latin

Release Date:

15 September 1972 (USA) 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

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

The police car arrives at the estate on a gravel driveway, however, we hear the sound of screeching tires on asphalt. 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

Referenced in There's Nothing Out There (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Requiem Mass in D minor
(uncredited)
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
See more »

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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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