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Splitting Heirs (1993)

PG-13 | | Comedy | 30 April 1993 (USA)
A duke dies and leaves the title and wealth to his adult son. But who's the real son: the found baby raised in USA or the abandoned baby raised by a Hindi family in London? Comedy follows.


Robert Young


Eric Idle

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1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Idle ... Tommy Butterfly Rainbow Peace Patel
Rick Moranis ... Henry Bullock
Barbara Hershey ... Duchess Lucinda
Catherine Zeta-Jones ... Kitty (as Catherine Zeta Jones)
John Cleese ... Raoul P. Shadgrind
Sadie Frost ... Angela
Stratford Johns ... Butler
Brenda Bruce ... Mrs. Bullock
William Franklyn William Franklyn ... Andrews
Charu Bala Chokshi Charu Bala Chokshi ... Mrs. Patel (as Charubala Chokshi)
Jeremy Clyde ... 14th Duke
Richard Huw Richard Huw ... Brittle
Eric Sykes ... Jobson the Doorman
Bridget McConnell Bridget McConnell ... Nanny
Bill Stewart Bill Stewart ... Adoption Agent


A member of the English upper class dies, leaving his estate and his business to an American, whom he thinks is his son who was lost as a baby and then found again. An Englishman who thinks he is an Indian comes to believe that he is actually the heir. He comes to hate the American who is his boss, his friend, and the man who has stolen the woman after whom he lusts. Written by Mark Logan <marklo@west.sun.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A wickedly funny comedy of royal proportions.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for nudity and sexual dialogue | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

30 April 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Grandeur et descendance See more »

Filming Locations:

France See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Prominent Features See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The final film of Brenda Bruce. See more »


At the 1 hour, one minute mark of the film, Patel falls from a window shutter and lands on a poolside lounger, which rolls into the swimming pool. You can clearly see the attached cable, the Crew used to pull the lounger into the pool. See more »


Tommy Patel: [talking about sex] You called me over!
Kitty: And you came. And I forgive you.
Tommy Patel: [sarcastic] Oh how kind!
See more »

Crazy Credits

and *introducing* John Cleese See more »


Written by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Published by EMI United Partnership Limited
Performed by Nina Simone
Recording Courtesy of Phonogram Limited
See more »

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User Reviews

Severe flaws and not enough laughs
24 December 2008 | by Electrified_VoltageSee all my reviews

I was too young to see this 1993 British comedy (rated PG-13) when it was released, but saw it a couple times in 2005. Before seeing it, I knew it featured Eric Idle and John Cleese, both of Monty Python fame, as well as Canadian actor Rick Moranis, whom I knew best for his role as Bob McKenzie, one of the two stereotypical Canadian brothers, Bob & Doug McKenzie. Knowing about those three cast members, I was hoping for a funny movie. Around the beginning, I was getting disappointed, but eventually found that it got better. My second viewing wasn't much different from my first, but my third viewing, over three years later, was disappointing.

In the 1960's, the son of the 14th Duke of Bournemouth is born, and is his rightful heir. The boy's hippie parents accidentally lose him, and find a baby boy which is assumed to be him. However, it turns out that they had the wrong boy! Their son is adopted and raised as Tommy Patel by an Indian family in England, and has no clue that he is actually the rightful heir to the title of the Duke of Bournemouth until after he grows up! That title goes to an American named Henry Bullock, and it is after Tommy meets him that he gradually finds evidence indicating that he is not the rightful heir! Tommy talks to a lawyer named Raoul P. Shadgrind about this, and learns from him that it will be hard to claim the position while the current Duke is still alive, but it will be easier if Henry dies! With that in mind, determined to get back what he lost as a baby, Tommy begins to carry out assassination attempts on the false heir!

Even back when I was reasonably impressed with this movie, I realized that there were casting problems, with Barbara Hershey as Duchess Lucinda, the real mother of Tommy, played by Eric Idle. The problem with this is that Hershey is about five years younger than Idle, and I would say she looks even younger than that! Plus Idle plays a character who was born during the hippie era, even though Idle himself was born over twenty years before that era began! However, those major casting problems certainly don't completely ruin the film. The main problem with "Splitting Heirs" is that it simply isn't very funny. There were definitely times when I laughed during my third viewing, with the outcome of some of the assassination attempts, and I guess some occasional really funny lines, but there was not quite enough humour to satisfy. Duchess Lucinda can be a tad irritating, with her sex-obsessed ways, and it seems Hershey tries to be funny in this role, but doesn't succeed. There are some fairly lame gags involving her character. I think I realized this during my second viewing, but it seemed worse with my third. I guess that's because I didn't find enough to make up for it this time.

No, this movie isn't very long, but during my most recent viewing, it seemed like it was! I remembered not being so impressed around the beginning of the film before, so it didn't surprise me that I wasn't laughing much during the early part of the film this time, but unlike before, I didn't find that it ever really improved much as it went along! For the most part, the dullness continued. Whenever a really good gag came along, it didn't last long, and then the dullness would soon come back. Maybe "Splitting Heirs" is good for one or two viewings, but wears thin after that, or maybe I've changed a bit in three years. Well, whatever the reason is for my recent disappointment with this film, I'm clearly not alone, though I still don't hate it like some people do. For Monty Python fans, Eric Idle COULD make you laugh in this film, and so could John Cleese in his smaller part. As for Rick Moranis, of "SCTV" fame, I don't think his character in this film has ever really stood out to me. So, for Python fans, this movie, written by and starring Eric Idle, could be worth a try, but could also seriously disappoint you. In any case, your expectations definitely shouldn't be TOO high.

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