Review by Rebecca J Madrigal
THIS all-time great from the British stable of Ealing Studios, can only be described as near perfection. Yes, it's an old one, but they are often the best and though made in 1949, it is still a sharp, entertaining and, ultimately, a very black for comedy for the times.
This is the story of a poor haberdasher, played stunningly by Dennis Price, who murders his way through the D'Ascoyne family towards a dukedom he feels should rightly be his, had his mother not made a less than suitable choice for marriage.
And it is really Alec Guinness's film; he gives an outstanding performance, which is even more impressive when you consider that he plays all eight members of the D'Ascoyne family - male and female - that stand between Price and his peerage.
The cast consists of some of the best British stars of the time, including Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood, Arthur Lowe and Miles Malleson.
The film is unsentimental, callous, black and the scene where Price murmurs as he shoots an arrow at one of the ballooning family members, ('I shot an arrow in the air; she fell to earth in Berkley Square,') gives an incite into the pure evil running through the story.
This is high comedy for the time, beautifully presented, set within the Edwardian period; it really is an impeccable event in movie making.
Interestingly, the ending had to accommodate the censorship rules of the time, which meant that Price had to pay for his evil deeds.
MAIN CAST: Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, and Valerie Hobson
DIRECTOR: Robert Hamer
SCREENPLAY: Robert Hamer (from the book 'Noblesse Oblique' by Roy Horniman).
106 minutes B&W
No Oscar nominations - SHOCKING!!!