Kind Hearts and Coronets

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From the novel of the same name by Roy Horniman

The eighth in line to a dukedom decides to accelerate the inheritance process…

This is one of the Ealing Studios comedies, and (in my opinion) the best. The wannabe heir takes out everyone who stands in his way (and this is not a spoiler, as the viewer finds this out at the start of the movie.)

And the best part: Alec Guinness plays ALL EIGHT of the members of the family, of various ages and sexes. Brilliantly. And in fact, those of us who know him from his later films will not recognize him as a young man as easily as when he is playing someone old. But you can always recognize his voice.

And speaking of his later roles, in one scene, the young murderer is having dinner with an elderly relative (both Alec Guinness)…and the elderly relative says something, and I paused the movie and we both looked at each other in shock and said, He didn’t say, “I believe the Force is with you”, did he? and laughed like idiots that we had both heard and then said it simultaneously. We rewound it…what was actually said was, I believe the PORT is with you, a phrase which in polite British society means, You’re hogging all the alcohol, pass it over here!

But it says a lot about our background and what we most identify Sir Alec with that we both mis-heard the same thing…

This is an utterly charming, funny and wonderful movie. Beautifully made, with excellent actors besides the Ubiquitous Guinness. Well worth seeing.

Although there is one not-so-happy period piece that does not sit well in our modern times: toward the end, he recites the old Eeny-Meeny-Miney-Mo rhyme…actually using the N word in it, and once more in referring to the rhyme. Yowch. That’s not a word one expects to hear casually dropped in a light comedic movie…shows how far we’ve come since 1949, I guess. Don’t let it deter you, this is a WONDERFUL movie.

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