Kind Hearts and Coronets | Chicago Reader

Kind Hearts and Coronets

Robert Hamer's 1949 film is often cited as the definitive black, eccentric British comedy, yet it's several cuts better than practically anything else in the genre. Dennis Price, as a poor, distant relative of the rich D'Ascoynes, must murder eight members of the family (all played by Alec Guinness) to obtain the title and fortune he believes are his right. Hamer's direction is bracingly cool and clipped, yet he's able to draw something from his performers (Price has never been deeper, Guinness never more proficient, and Joan Greenwood never more softly, purringly cruel) that transcends the facile comedy of murder; there's lyricism, passion, and protest in it too. With Valerie Hobson and Arthur Lowe.

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