Kind Hearts and Coronets Reviews
Now I think of comedy as telling jokes, pulling a face etc..however this film is not an example of that at all. My first foray into the films that were shot post war at the old Ealing Studios in London, U.K. that became known as Ealing comedies.
It is more a black comedy. Showing humour such as the screenplay itself.
The screenplay is about a rich, aristocratic family called D'Ascoyne's. The family has a noble title producing the Lord Chalfont.
The family have a black sheep as such caused by one of the members having a relationship and producing a son with an Italian.
The said black sheep of the family, a female branch and the son Louis Mazzini (Vincent Price) live in relative London suburbia poverty well away from the trappings of aristocracy.
In later life Louis becomes bitter and vows revenge on the family who have disowned him and stand in the way of the dukedom. All eight members!
Hence a series of murders occurs as Louis becomes ever closer to being ancestor to the Lord Chalfont title.
I didn't realise until watching the film that all those eight members of both genders are brilliantly portrayed by Alex Guiness. A far cry from some of his roles in later life!
The film is a delight and the old black and white photography a triumph that adds to the class of the film.
On further reading the Director of Photography is Douglas Slocombe who I recognise from Carry On films to Indiana Jones blockbusters.
Surprisingly good first foray into the Ealing comedy.
Interesting, intriguing crime drama, with a dry, dark humour about it. The whole sequence of events leading up to and including Louis knocking off the claimants to the dukedom makes for compelling viewing. Quirkily funny at times too.
More than just a crime drama, the movie also pokes fun at England's class and peerage system. You can well imagine that someone would go to such lengths for a title and the wealth and other benefits it bestows.
Solid work by Dennis Price as Louis. Standout performance(s), however, goes to Alec Guiness who plays all eight members of the D'Ascoyne family! Good support from Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood.
An excellent comedy/drama with two very important things, the latter of which some modern day films lack: good acting and an excellent script. The story is hilarious, and everything Dennis Price does is absolutely brilliant. A great classic!
Now the cast must be addressed here. First of all Dennis Price is amazing as Louis. He is both sympathetic and cunning. He does a superb job of portraying all the conflicting emotions he is dealing with, but also the cold calculation that is necessary for his machinations to work. Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood are perfect as Louis' 2 love interests because they have such totally different performances. Just from their accents and intonation you can tell what kind of person they are and what Louis sees in them. Now I've avoided talking about the master stroke of Kind Hearts and Coronets long enough. The truth is, while Dennis Price has the lead role, this film is only possible because of the brilliance of Alec Guinness. He plays the part of all 8 members of the duke's family. I didn't know this going in so I was extremely surprised to see that familiar face popping up again and again. He is the comedic heart of this film, and he delivers 8 unique performances. Aside from seeing the familiar features in each face there really isn't much to connect his portrayal of the Admiral and the Parson, or the Duke and Lady Agatha. All around I was just delighted by Kind Hearts and Coronets and I highly recommend it, especially if you still think Alec Guinness is just "that guy who played Obi-Wan Kenobi."