Kind Hearts And Coronets

Here's the place to talk about DVDs (or VHS) films and movies you have seen on television and recommend or don't recommend. Discuss actors and scores, too.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
stenka razin
CMG's Chief Decorator
Posts: 4005
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:59 am
Location: In The Steppes Of Central Asia

Kind Hearts And Coronets

Post by stenka razin » Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:07 am

A great Ealing comedy. Any other Ealing lovers out there?


Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Five years before his birth, Louis Mazzini's aristocratic mother gets
herself thrown out of the D'Ascoyne family by marrying a poor Italian
tenor. His father's death throws Louis and his mother deeper into
poverty. On his mother's grave, Louis vows to avenge her
mistreatment by her own relatives.

For several years, the vow is no more than a fantasy, until one day a
young scion of the D'Ascoyne family walks into the draper's shop
where Louis works for two pounds a week, insults Louis, and
threatens to have him sacked. The fate of all the D'Ascoynes is now
sealed, as Louis decides to murder his way to the Duchy of Chalmont.

His victims are:

1.) Young Ascoyne D'Ascoyne. Louis cuts a mooring rope, sending
Ascoyne over a waterfall in a flimsy boat.
2.) Henry D'Ascoyne, an amateur photographer, blown up after Louis
substitutes petrol for paraffin in a darkroom lantern.
3.) The Reverend Lord Henry D'Ascoyne expires when Louis slips
poison into his wine.
4.) Lady Agatha D'Ascoyne, a suffragette, drops leaflets from a hot-
air balloon until Louis "Put an arrow into the air / She fell to earth in
Berkeley Square."
5.) General Lord Rufus D'Ascoyne, blown up by an explosive pot of
caviar, sent anonymously by Louis.
6/) Ethelred, Eigth Duke of Chalmont, killed with a point-blank
shotgun blast delivered by Louis.

To all the excitement, add two significant characters: Sibella, Louis's
childhood sweetheart; and Edith, the widow of Henry the
photographer. After Henry's death, Louis courts and eventually
wins the hand of Edith, while maintaining a long-standing dalliance
with Sibella, now married to Lionel, " the most boring man in
Europe." Ironically, within minutes of Louis's announcement of his
engagement to Edith, he is arrested for the murder of Lionel, who had
in fact committed suicide after the failure of his business. In prison,
the cunning Sibella offer Louis a deal: she'll produce Lionel's suicide
note if Louis will murder Edith and marry her.

All but the prison scenes are played in flashback, representing Louis's
memoirs, written during his long last night in prison. In the closing
sequence, Louis, acquitted on the strength of the suicide note, leaves
the prison, where he finds Edith waiting for him in one carriage and
Sibella in another. The Lady or the Tiger? Or in this case, Option C:
a reporter approaches Louis and requests his memoirs.

Only then does Louis remember that he has left his memoirs, which
amount to a full, signed confession, in his cell. The End.

Written by John Dighton and Robert Hamer
Directed by Robert Hamer

Cast:
Dennis Price.....Louis Mazzini/Mazzini Sr.
Valerie Hobson.....Edith
Joan Greenwood.....Sibella
Alec Guinness.....The D'Ascoyne Family

The plot is complex, but "Kind Hearts and Coronets" is not difficult or
confusing to watch. It is a stroke of genius on the part of all its
creators to make a film so rich, so detailed, so entertaining, and so
understandable. Indeed, it has been called "an unfaded masterpiece
and a prime example of British comedy at its cleverest."

But a black, black comedy it is. In addition to Louis's six murder
victims, others who join the choir invisible during the course of the
film include his father, who dies of shock upon his first glimpse of the
newborn Louis; his mother (run down by a trolley); Ethelred's wife
Mary and her twin sons (diphtheria epidemic); Young Ascoyne's lady
companion in the boat (drowns with Ascoyne); Admiral Lord Horatio
D'Ascoyne (goes down with his sinking ship a the result of his own
incompetence and obstinacy, thus generously saving Louis the trouble
of a seventh murder); Old Ascoyne D'Ascoyne, who suffers a stroke,
then dies of shock upon learning that he's inherited Ethelred's title;
Lionel, Sibella's boring husband (suicide); and several other
D'Ascoynes, unnamed, but methodically crossed off the family tree
Louis keeps hidden behind a watercolor of Castle Chalmont.

An article as least as long as this one could be written about Alec
Guinness's masterly sketches of the D'Ascoynes in what was only his
third film. His old men could pass for Obi Wan Kenobi's senile
uncles; his lady Agatha is a menace in drag; Ascoyne is an
insufferable young snob; while Henry, the photographer, is actually a
modest, likable fellow whom Louis kills reluctantly. Guiness
remarked "Somehow, I should have loved and hated them all. The
only one I really loved, though, was the old Vicar, and I did him best."

Guinness's exuberant D'Ascoynes make it easy to forget that Dennis
Price also played multiple roles as Louis, Louis's father, and also very
convincingly disguised as a country bishop.

My own favorite scene takes place in Henry and Edith's garden, when
the darkroom explodes. However, I've put enough "spoilers" in
already, and will let first-time "Kind Hearts and Coronets" viewers
discover this and hundreds of other treats on their own. :D :D :D :D ****+
Image

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Re: Kind Hearts And Coronets

Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:51 pm

OMG, Mel! I know only 5 people who know about this movie and I've introduced 3 of them to it.

I adore this movie! It's one of my top 5.

My favorite scenes:

1) Mazzini pere serenading Louis' mother. I can never hear O mio tesoro that I don't think of that movie.
2) The old vicar droning on about architecture he knows nothing about.
3) Louis shooting down his suffragette aunt "I shot an arrow/Into the air/She fell to earth/In Berkeley Square"
4) Louis scratching out each deceased on the family tree
5) Any scene with the horrid Sibella - I just love Joan Greenwood.
6) Louis' look of horror when he realizes he left a complete confession sitting on the table in the jail.

A wonderful film masterfully executed by the cast from the plucky little Ealing studios.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

stenka razin
CMG's Chief Decorator
Posts: 4005
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:59 am
Location: In The Steppes Of Central Asia

Re: Kind Hearts And Coronets

Post by stenka razin » Fri Sep 19, 2008 8:20 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:OMG, Mel! I know only 5 people who know about this movie and I've introduced 3 of them to it.

I adore this movie! It's one of my top 5.

My favorite scenes:

1) Mazzini pere serenading Louis' mother. I can never hear O mio tesoro that I don't think of that movie.
2) The old vicar droning on about architecture he knows nothing about.
3) Louis shooting down his suffragette aunt "I shot an arrow/Into the air/She fell to earth/In Berkeley Square"
4) Louis scratching out each deceased on the family tree
5) Any scene with the horrid Sibella - I just love Joan Greenwood.
6) Louis' look of horror when he realizes he left a complete confession sitting on the table in the jail.

A wonderful film masterfully executed by the cast from the plucky little Ealing studios.
My Dear Corlyss, you have such wonderful taste in movies! :D :D :D :D
Image

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Re: Kind Hearts And Coronets

Post by Ralph » Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:07 pm

This is an absolutely classic Alex Guiness film which I've seen many times.
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

karlhenning
Composer-in-Residence
Posts: 9816
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:12 am
Location: Boston, MA
Contact:

Re: Kind Hearts And Coronets

Post by karlhenning » Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:12 pm

An excellent movie (featuring a delightfully apt quotation from John Gay's The Beggar's Opera).

I may possibly prefer The Ladykillers, but that were splitting hairs.

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Re: Kind Hearts And Coronets

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:00 pm

stenka razin wrote:My Dear Corlyss, you have such wonderful taste in movies! :D :D :D :D
I watched it last night and some of the documentary about Ealing Studios that came with it. I have to say that the narration and dialog are absolutely priceless. What an ear the author had! One of the veteran directors of the studio, not the director of Kind Hearts, said it was the most perfect script he'd ever read and he still reads it over from time to time. Rewed afresh my respect for what a stellar and consistent performance Dennis Price gives.

I've new favorite scenes: the ones involving the hangman and his touching efforts to get the etiquette of hanging a duke just right, showing the proper deference, including the correct form of address to the victim.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

karlhenning
Composer-in-Residence
Posts: 9816
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:12 am
Location: Boston, MA
Contact:

Re: Kind Hearts And Coronets

Post by karlhenning » Sat Sep 20, 2008 3:55 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:. . . Rewed afresh my respect for what a stellar and consistent performance Dennis Price gives.
Aye, an excellently modulated performance.

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest