Kind Hearts and Coronets

Watch Kind Hearts and Coronets

"A hilarious study in the gentle art of murder."
  • NR
  • 1950
  • 1 hr 46 min
  • 8.0  (39,580)

"Kind Hearts and Coronets" is a darkly comedic masterpiece from the British film industry, released in 1949. The movie focuses on the life of Louis Mazzini, a man who seeks to avenge the wrongs done to his mother's side of the family, which was disowned by the wealthy aristocratic D'Ascoyne family. The story follows Louis as he navigates his way up the ranks of the D'Ascoyne family tree, by systematically eliminating eight of his relatives who stand in the way of his inheritance.

Dennis Price puts in a masterful performance as Louis Mazzini, bringing a sense of charm and wit to the character of the scheming, murderous anti-hero. Alec Guinness, in a tour-de-force performance, takes on eight different roles, each of them D'Ascoyne relatives who fall victim to Louis' machinations. Guinness displays an extraordinary range, playing characters from a devout, dotty spinster to a dashing, womanizing duke with effortless ease.

Valerie Hobson provides the romantic foil as Sibella, Louis' childhood friend and love interest, who is also romantically involved with another man. Hobson brings a certain lightness and élan to the character, which is much needed given the dark subject matter of the movie.

At its core, "Kind Hearts and Coronets" is a razor-sharp satire of class, privilege, and inherited wealth. Through the character of Louis Mazzini, the movie skewers the cultural and societal norms of the British aristocracy, which deny people like his mother opportunities to rise in society simply because of their lowly origins. Louis' journey to the top is a brutal, bloody one, but director Robert Hamer manages to mine dark comedy gold from the situation.

What sets "Kind Hearts and Coronets" apart from other black comedies is the elegance with which it is executed. The movie is beautifully shot, with luxurious sets and costumes that transport the audience back to a bygone era with incredible finesse. The cinematography is top-notch, with clever framing and lensing that add to the movie's comic timing. For example, in one scene, Louis grabs a shovel and heads offscreen, and we see the shadow of the shovel on the wall before we hear a thud. It's these small touches that elevate the movie above its peers.

The script, written by Hamer and John Dighton, is a work of genius. Every line in the movie is a gem, with the characters speaking in a clipped, understated way that belies the cut-throat nature of their interactions. The movie is punctuated with a series of wry, biting one-liners that will have the audience splitting their sides. One scene in particular, involving a telegram and a funeral, is a comedic tour-de-force that has not lost its impact even after all these years.

Another standout feature of the movie is the soundtrack, composed by Ernest Irving. The music perfectly captures the tone of the movie, shifting effortlessly between light, jaunty refrains and somber, mournful dirges. The use of music in certain scenes is particularly inspired, such as when Louis takes a tour of the D'Ascoyne family mausoleum, and the organ music builds to a crescendo as he realizes the enormity of what he is planning to do.

In summary, "Kind Hearts and Coronets" is a movie that has stood the test of time, and continues to be celebrated as a classic of the British film industry. With impeccable performances, a razor-sharp script, and beautiful production values, the movie remains as entertaining, engaging, and thought-provoking today as it was when it was first released in 1949. Whether you're a fan of black comedy, social commentary, or just great cinema in general, "Kind Hearts and Coronets" is a must-watch.

Kind Hearts and Coronets is a 1950 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 46 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.0.

Kind Hearts and Coronets
Where to Watch Kind Hearts and Coronets
Kind Hearts and Coronets is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download, buy and rent on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon, Google Play and YouTube VOD. Some platforms allow you to rent Kind Hearts and Coronets for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 46 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.0  (39,580)