Kind Hearts and Coronets
Release Year: 1949
Director: Robert Hamer
Writers: Robert Hamer (screenplay), John Dighton (screenplay), Nancy Mitford (uncredited screenplay revisions), y Horniman (loosely based on his 1907 novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal)
Starring: Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Valerie Hobson, Audrey Fildes, Miles Malleson, Clive Morton, John Penrose, Cecil Ramage, Hugh Griffith
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #251, week 15 2019
A member of the aristocratic D’Ascoyne family elopes with an Italian singer, is cut off by the family, and later dies in poverty. Years later her son plans to avenger her by inheriting the D’Acoyne dukedom, only problem is there are eight family members between himself and the title.
In this British comedy classic Dennis Price (The House in the Square, 1951) plays an anti-hero. He is awaiting his execution for murder and spends the night writing his memoir in which he narrates his story. Now, few off us (I assume) have found ourselves in line to inherit a dukedom, but I doubt most would choose the path that Price’s Louis goes down – at least I hope not! The result is delightfully black humour with a very English sensibility. Although Price is good, it is Guinness (Last Holiday, 1950) in only his third credited screen role, who steals the show; in fact, he steals the show times seven. Guinness gives a tour-de-force exhibition of tongue-in-cheek, subtle English humour as all seven members of the D’Ascoyne family – From aunt Agatha, to the young photography enthusiast Henry, to the old parson. As the frame story, the Louis’s background story seems quite dated, it is Guinness’s scenes that will make you want to revisit this film. A British comedy classic made a comedy star out of the young Alec Guinness and is highly recommended for fans of old-fashioned comedy of the black and subtle persuasion.
Sir Alec Guinness nearly drowned while filming the scene in which the Admiral goes down with hi ship. Guinness was tied to the flor with wire while the cabin was filled with water. Once the scene was wrapped technicians started to leave until someone remembered that Guinness was still tied down under water and dove in to cut him loose.
Initially, Guinness was offered for of the roles, but insisted on playing all eight member of the D’Ascoyne family.
The title refers to the following lines from Alfred Lord Tennyson 1842 poem “Lady Clara Vere de Vere”: “Kind hearts are more than coronets, And simple faith than Norman blood.”
Picture Copyright: UIP