Kind Hearts and Coronets

Kind Hearts and Coronets

4.6 6
Director: Robert Hamer

Cast: Dennis Price, Valerie Hobson


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Kind Hearts And Coronets, produced by Ealing Studios, was the movie that put Alec Guinness on the map, at least for American audiences, as an extraordinary new talent (he had done a star turn as Fagin in David Lean's Oliver Twist the previous year, but that movie was unable to get distribution in America until 1951, due -- ironically -- to Guinness'sSee more details below


Kind Hearts And Coronets, produced by Ealing Studios, was the movie that put Alec Guinness on the map, at least for American audiences, as an extraordinary new talent (he had done a star turn as Fagin in David Lean's Oliver Twist the previous year, but that movie was unable to get distribution in America until 1951, due -- ironically -- to Guinness's portrayal of Fagin). The movie has been given respectful treatment that occasionally slides over into the sublimely clever, specifically in the design of its menu. Opening automatically on start-up, the latter is built on visuals from the opening credits and manages to have great fun with them, as one wanders around the menu (which is worth the "walk"). The transfer itself is a significant improvement over any other edition of the movie that that this reviewer can recall, certainly from television and also the short-lived laserdisc version from the 1980's. It isn't perfect, but it does capture some of the luster and depth of a proper theatrical showing, with some interior shots that glitter. Additionally, the audio is mastered at a reasonably high level, and offers a richness that shows off the subtle nuances of Dennis Price's wryly comical narration. The movie has been given a generous and well-chosen 28 chapters and comes appended with the original trailer as well as a bio of Alec Guinness (identical to the bio on the other discs in this series from Anchor Bay). The disc comes with an extensive and well-detailed production history of the movie, authored by Rand Vossler. The release of this title also points up one of the virtues of some aspects of advancing technology, where high-end video is concerned -- Anchor Bay was able to release the DVD, with superior video and good audio, for about half the cost of the laserdisc edition from 15 years earlier.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Charm, elegance, and serial murder are mixed together like a perfect martini in this exquisitely dry and quintessentially British black comedy. Directed by Robert Hamer, it's the first of the great run of comedies featuring Alec Guinness that emerged from England’s Ealing Studios. Dennis Price stars as an English duke and convicted murderer who, on the eve of his execution, relates in flashback how he methodically killed off all the rival heirs to his titles -- murders that become increasingly inventive and amusing as his chronicle unfolds. The peerless Guinness plays all of the victims -- male and female -- in a chameleonlike tour de force. That the conceit never feels gimmicky is an enduring testament to Guinness's brilliance. Price is wonderful, too; his would-be duke is one of the most appealing cold-blooded killers ever put on film. Consummately refined, yet spiced up with delicious twists and intrigues, Kind Hearts and Coronets stops short of hilarity, opting instead for a subtle comic tone that brings the morbidity of the narrative into startling relief. Perhaps the most familiar of Guinness's Ealing productions, it is also one of cinema's all-time great comedies.
All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Kind Hearts and Coronets is an elegant black comedy that is perhaps too much remembered for the gimmick of having Alec Guinness play eight different murder victims and too little remembered for the fine performance of Dennis Price as the murderer. One of several comedy classics of the post-WWII era from Ealing Studios, the film is both ironic and bitingly funny. While the ending of the British version leads the audience to believe that Price will escape punishment for his crimes, American censors insisted that the criminal had to be punished for U.S. distribution, and so a less amusing ending was tacked on for the benefit of overly sensitive Yanks. Also of note is Joan Greenwood's performance as the murderer's childhood friend Sibella. Ealing was often an underfunded studio, so the production values are modest, though adequate. If there is an area in which the tech credits shine, it is the make-up and costuming of Guinness.
New York Times - Dave Kehr
Class is the great unmentionable of American movies, but the British positively swill in the subject. Seldom has it been treated with more elegance and bile than in Robert Hamer's 1949 Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Starz / Anchor Bay
Region Code:
[Dolby Digital Mono]

Special Features

Collectible Booklet; Alec Guiness Bio; Theatrical Trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Dennis Price Louis Mazzini
Alec Guinness Admiral d'Ascoyne,Ascoyne d'Ascoyne,Canon d'Ascoyne,Duke of Chalfont,Gen. d'Ascoyne,Henry d'Ascoyne,Lady Agatha d'Ascoyne,Lord d'Ascoyne
Valerie Hobson Edith D'Ascoyne
Joan Greenwood Sibella
Miles Malleson Hangman
Arthur Lowe The Reporter
Clive Morton Prison Governor
John Penrose Lionel
Cecil Ramage Crown Counsel
John Salew Mr. Perkins
Lynn Evans The Farmer
Audrey Fields Mama
Richard Wattis Actor
Anne Valery The Girl in the Punt
Hugh Griffith Lord High Steward
Eric Messiter Burgoyne
Barbara Leake The Schoolmistress
Peggy Ann Clifford Maud

Technical Credits
Robert Hamer Director,Screenwriter
Michael Balcon Producer
Geoffrey Dickinson Special Effects
John Dighton Screenwriter
Harry Frampton Makeup
Ernest Irving Score Composer
William Kellner Art Director
Anthony Mendleson Costumes/Costume Designer
Syd Pearson Special Effects
Norman Priggen Asst. Director
Michael Relph Associate Producer
Jeff Seaholme Camera Operator
Douglas Slocombe Cinematographer
Peter Tanner Editor
Ernest Taylor Makeup

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Program Start/Main Titles [1:54]
2. The Silken Rope [4:39]
3. Family History and Humilations [4:23]
4. The Seeds of Crime [4:10]
5. Sibella [4:52]
6. Monsters of Arrogance [1:05]
7. Young Asocyne D'Ascoyne [5:24]
8. Excellent Prospects [3:25]
9. Henry D'Ascoyne [6:30]
10. A Dish Served Cold [2:04]
11. Tea and Tragedy [2:17]
12. The Funeral [4:24]
13. Rising Fortunes [4:58]
14. Rev. Lord Henry D'Ascoyne [6:13]
15. Lady Agatha, the Admiral and the General [3:46]
16. The Heir Presumptive [4:11]
17. A Chat by the Fire [3:27]
18. The Offer Accepted [3:12]
19. A Matter of Some Delicacy [4:16]
20. Sibella's Bluff [3:27]
21. Ethelred D'Ascoyne [3:11]
22. Hunting Accident [4:21]
23. The Tenth Duke of Chalfont [3:20]
24. The Trial [4:57]
25. Louis in the Dock [2:33]
26. Two Miracles [6:18]
27. "How Happy Could I Be With Either?" [1:58]
28. End Credits [:42]

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