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Kind Hearts and Coronets, always worth revisiting

September 24th, 2011 (01:00 am)

I always notice new details in Kind Hearts and Coronets each time I watch it. This time, it was the question of authenticity - if Louis is our narrator, can anything which he tells us be trusted? There are continuities in the narrative which are more revealing of his priorities than perhaps he intends - a childhood roasting chestnuts round Sibella's nursery fire, a slightly too pious love for his mother, a delusion that he is avenging her by killing his D'Ascoyne relatives rather than reacting to a personal slight. The ridiculing of Lionel Holland and Duke Ethelred, who demonstrate their share of cruelty, but who both demonstrate humanity at the last, at which Louis only shows contempt. The remarkable photography which allows Alec Guinness to appear in the same shot six times in different costumes; and the occasional bleak post-war topicality in this supposedly period piece, such as General Lord Rufus D'Ascoyne hailing the Russian expertise in caviar preparation as he detonates what is in fact a bomb - "not an atom of him was left" records Louis. The USSR had not yet exploded its first atomic bomb when Kind Hearts and Coronets was released, but it's tempting to see the line as playing on western apprehensions.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/452834.html.


Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 24th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)

I've only seen it once and then I missed the first fifteen minutes or so, as it didn't tape properly. It is a great film though, as is The Ladykillers. Odd that people think of Ealing comedies as a bit twee, when those two films are very dark and more than a little subversive.

I used to pass Ealing Studios on my way to what is no longer TVU.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 25th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)

I've got to catch up with The Ladykillers at some stage - I've still not seen it.

Ealing's second life as a BBC stage is sometimes hard to connect with its heyday. Alec Guinness should have strode through the jungles of Chloris or Zeta Minor.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 25th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)

It was on today, by coincidence, but I'd missed a lot of it before I realized (now I have a digital TV, I need to get in the habit of reading the listings for the digital channels!).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 25th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)

I've long stopped internalising the schedules, sadly, and I miss far too much that I'd like to see.