Kind Hearts and Coronets


Kind Hearts and Coronets

Critics Consensus

Performed with chameleonic brio by Alec Guinness, Kind Hearts and Coronets is a triumphant farce.



Total Count: 44


Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,115
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Kind Hearts and Coronets Photos

Movie Info

A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.

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Dennis Price
as Louis Mazzini
Valerie Hobson
as Edith D'Ascoyne
Cecil Ramage
as Crown Counsel
Hugh Griffith
as Lord High Steward
John Salew
as Mr. Perkins
Lynn Evans
as The Farmer
Eric Messiter
as Burgoyne
Anne Valery
as The Girl in the Punt
Arthur Lowe
as The Reporter
Lyn Evans
as The Farmer
Barbara Leake
as The Schoolmistress
Clive Morton
as Prison Governor
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Critic Reviews for Kind Hearts and Coronets

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (44)

Audience Reviews for Kind Hearts and Coronets

  • Jun 03, 2019
    A black comedy about classicism and the murder of the aristocracy played for laughs was always going to be up my alley. The added brilliance of Guinness and Price only sweeten the pot.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 14, 2016
    Alec Guinness is fantastic playing eight different characters but it is Dennis Price who shines in this witty, delightful British dark comedy that proves so compelling showing the minutiae of the main character's plan to eliminate eight people in order to obtain a title.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 01, 2013
    It's an early black comedy, or, if you will, an "extra black"-and-white comedy. ...Okay, well, at least this film is funnier then what I just said, and this film isn't exactly all that high of a standard, which is shocking, because, for all extents and purposes, this film should still be very effective. I mean, come now, of course this dark, Britastically dry comedy's humor would have stood the test of time, because it's only a measly little, oh, about almost 65 years old. Man, this film is so old that it stars Alec Guinness, who was old by the time he did "Star Wars", and also stars Dennis Price, who was, well, a year younger than Guinness, but nonetheless dead by the time "Star Wars" came out, so of course the annoyingly nostalgic critics are still calling this film hilarious, even - nay - especially in retrospect. I don't know about you people, but probably the funniest thing about this film is the name of the guys who wrote the book upon which this film is based, and whose name I'm not going to go ahead and say (Look it up and see just how much tastefulness in humor has died throughout the decades), because as this opener's first sentence will tell you, I can sure mess up a play on word. Oh, that joke was doomed from the get-go, much like comedy sensibilities of the 1940s, as this film, well, will tell you sometimes. Wow, I am really just knocking out of the park when it comes to showing that I'm perfectly sophisticated enough to be credible in a discussion of this film, but rest assured, people, I can back up my opinion that this film is hardly rewarding, much less funny, and yet, it's hard to deny what is done right in this film. If nothing else can be said about this film, it looks pretty good for its time, and even to this day, as art director William Kellner captures a tasteful classiness in his designing of this world, often complimented by obviously limited, but generally noticeably sharp lighting tastes, explored by cinematographer Douglas Slocombe. At the time it's release, this film just had to have turned heads, as it remains visually appealing to this day, with clever art direction and tasteful photography that give you a comfortable and handsome feel for this film's world, further old on you by a certain other relatively upstanding aspect. Okay, perhaps upstanding isn't exactly the perfect word to use when describing this film's acting, as this isn't the type of film that commands strong performances, yet that doesn't stop this film from flaunting talented performers, who aren't used to their full advantage, but still engage more than the film itself, with leading man Dennis Price being charismatic and convincing as the classy, but corrupt man out for the blood of those who wronged him, while Alec Guinness steals the show, taking on not one, or two, or three, or even four, but eight roles, and making each one distinct through a careful attention to presence that leaves Guinness to become each and every one of his characters. I really do with I could say that the film is as sharp as its look and performances, as it is so messy and disengaging, with efforts that generally fall flat and leave the final product to gradually slip, but not without leaving behind some undeniable high points in storytelling. I for one would perhaps consider this film more pompous than witty, but rest assured that there are moments in which the film does, in fact, take on effective wit, particularly when it comes to the sense of humor that might not always work, - especially when being played up to the point of breaking a surprisingly consistency in this film's straight face with moderate silliness - but still has those moments of amusing effectiveness that give you a taste of what could have been. Granted, this film was never to be all that sharp, so don't expect the drops of potential fulfillment to be all that rich, but do expect them to at least be present, often on the backs of handsome visuals and strong acting, and sometimes on the back of effectiveness within the telling of this reasonably promising effort. The film has a fair bit at its back, but alas, in the end, the film just cannot cross that line into decency, coming close, but not close enough to avoid a dreaded plunge into mediocrity, anchored by an emotional distance that is itself anchored by questionable storytelling. Opening right up with Dennis Price's Louis Mazzini character in prison after the events that are not at all shown right away, this film offers no immediate development and is mostly unraveled in a flashback that you would think would compensate for the out-of-the-gate trip-up in exposition, but ends up being much more flawed than it should be, seeing as how it takes up the film's body, slam-banging through its points and delivering on little expository depth, as though it were planning on breaking out of the flashback that ends up being no mere recap of events preceding what is the majority of the final product, but most of the awkwardly rushed final product itself. Falling into all of the tropes of a throw-away flashback sequence, complete with skimming that is in no way helped by prominence in Dennis Price's summarizing narration, the body of this film is slapdashed and distancing, and such questionable story structuring methods deal a mighty blow to the film, no matter how much it ostensibly attempts to balance pacing out by meeting structurally rushed moments with atmospheric momentum that is anything but pumped out. The film is rarely, if ever necessarily all-out boring, but when this film really dries up, - as it oh so very often does - things really start to slow down, while blandness does the opposite, growing wealthier and wealthier, until devolving into dullness that would perhaps be compensated for if this film wasn't so quiet and tamed, defying traditional comedic atmosphere with a cold restraint that gets to be too intense, and is not backed up enough by lively material for entertainment value to go sustained. I know all of this complaining about a dull atmosphere and rushed narrative doesn't sound like too big of a deal, but when you get down to it, this film is just too dry for its own good, and its narrative is too driven by intentionally undercooked flashback sensibilities for its own good, meandering along with a distancingly lack of humanity that leaves you to meditate upon the lack of likability within the characters, as well as certain other shortcomings in the basic layout of this premise. There's a certain degree of immediate intrigue to this dry, darkly humorous study on a gentlemen with a dark vengeful side, but most intrigue goes lost in translation, thus you're only left with the natural shortcomings in this story, of which there are many, as this subject matter is mighty thin, with plenty of consequence, but still not enough juiciness surrounding and reinforcing the kick to such consequence, whose instrumental flavor rests in the hand of those who execute this sensitive story concept. Needless to say, the shortcomings in this film's thin story concept are not simply not compensated for by the telling of this tale, but intensified, as this film rushes through expository depth with a dully bland atmosphere and emotional distance that further thin out this story, until it stands as nothing more than barely structured and truly near-monotonously aimless. There are well-done aspects to this film, I'm not denying that, but the retrospective lauding of this film cannot possibly not be heavily influenced by nostalgia and appreciation of age over substance, because even if you look at this film for its time, outside of the look and performances, there's nothing terribly outstanding here, but a whole lot to complain about, as the final product drags along, keeping expository depth lacking, atmosphere dull, structure thin and overall resonance distanced, not so much so that the film isn't brought to the border of decency by what it does do so right, yet nevertheless to where you end up with a mediocre misfire that would have been forgotten were it not for its being kept alive by the hopelessly misguided nostalgics. In conclusion, handsome art direction, strong performances - particularly by the show-stealingly transformative Alec Guinness - and high points in witty storytelling bring the final product to the brink of decency, but don't quite succeed in battling back nostalgia, as there is too much distancing slapdashing within primarily flashback format-driven storytelling, bland, if not dull dryness in atmosphere, and aimless thinness in story structuring for resonance to be sustained enough to prevent "Kind Hearts and Coronets" from gradually devolving into a borderline likable, but generally unrewarding mess of a fall-flat "classic" piece of dark comedy. 2.25/5 - Mediocre
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 09, 2012
    Fantastic performances and a tightly wound script as well as some pitch black humour. Full review later.
    Thomas B Super Reviewer

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