Monday, April 10, 2006

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

A black comedy from the Ealing Studios, about a young man named Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) who is so far down the list for inheriting the family fortune, he decides to use more "direct" methods to remove a few of the obstacles (namely, relatives) in his path to the title.

This film proves that too much Alec Guinness is barely enough. Not content with playing just one character, Sir Alec plays the entire ill-fated D'Ascoyne family tree (eight different characters at least, ranging from an Admiral to a suffragette.). And although you'd think that it would be tough for any of the other actors to register with the audience given this mini tour-de-force, the three other leads are all equally good - particuarly Price, whose flawless delivery carries off the irony and archness of the film to perfection (think Hugh Grant, but less ineffectual, more ruthless. In fact, if only Grant had the range and inclination to try something this blackly funny - it would have been a much better career decision than his endless, awful romantic comedy retreads).

Bonus points: the millinery. Look out for the black hat about halfway through the film that can only be described as "aggressive turkey".

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