Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#325: Kind Hearts and Coronets

(Robert Hamer, 1949)

I showed this to a couple of my friends this weekend, so I thought I'd write a little about one of my favorite movies ever made. Certainly, when Kind Hearts and Coronets was announced by Criterion, I was thrilled, and I bought it the day it was released. A truly dark and biting commentary on the class system of England, the film is one of the most dryly funny films I've ever seen.

While many of the other comedies to come out of Ealing Studios post-WWII are also funny, it's a shame that some of them are so much better known. This is particularly true of The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers, both of which are strong films but nowhere near the quality of Kind Hearts and Coronets, which contains Alec Guinness's best performance(s) as the entire D'Ascoyne clan. The film has a true Oscar Wilde-style slant to it, and for a film about a serial killer, it's as light and airy as Champagne. (Incidentally, a double feature of this and the 50s rendition of The Importance of Being Earnest, also starring the wonderful Joan Greenwood, would be a seriously enjoyable evening.)

This film is highly recommended for anyone interested in the darker side of humor, especially the anglophiles. It's one of the most underrated movies in the Collection, if not all of comedy.

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