Film Reviews, Short Review

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

3/4

One of the most enduring of the much-adored Ealing comedies that the London studio produced after the war, Kind Hearts and Coronets remains as impeccably dry as the Atacama Desert. It’s not as “laugh-out-loud” funny The Ladykillers, also from Ealing, but what it lacks in belly laughs it makes up for in wit and seething class resentment. The story goes that Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price), 8th in line to a Dukedom, murders all of his relations (all played by Alec Guinness) so as to obtain it. Guinness is masterful, giving each one of his eight creations a distinctive comic personality, no matter how small their screen-time (two get not even two minutes), whilst his opposite, Price, is astonishingly bitter and dark, a caustic counterpoint to Guiness’ genteel whimsy. Whilst the film is briskly paced, it does suffer a touch in its screenplay: after Mazzini is finally arrested for murder, we are treated to an exceptionally long courtroom sequence entirely devoid of humour, character development, or new information. It’s an unfortunate dud towards the end that almost lulled me asleep, damaging the overall flow of the film, but the rest of Kind Hearts and Coronets is Ealing at its most refined.

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