Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Kind Hearts and Coronets</strong> (1949)

(On TV, July 2018) I really should have liked Kind Hearts and Coronets a lot more than I did. For some reason, though, the film simply didn’t click. It should have—as an early example of dry British black humour, the idea of having a frustrated man killing everyone in the line of succession to a title he covets is rather amusing. The narration has an ironic kick to it as the protagonist details his plans and state of mind, while the dual romantic interests introduces a nice complication. Some of the adulterous dialogue feels decently racy even today (“You’re playing with Fire” “At least it warms me”)—in fact, reviewing quotes from the film, I’m impressed all over again by the quality of the script. Which leads me to think that the conditions in which I viewed the film (with terrible audio and bad captioning from a standard-definition channel that doesn’t really care about offering an optimal viewing experience) may have played some role in affecting my enjoyment of the film. It certainly has qualities to spare. Dennis Price is sympathetic enough as the serial murdering protagonist, while it’s hard to choose between Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood as his love interests. Meanwhile, Alec Guinness seems to be having tons of fun playing no less than nine roles in the same film, sometimes in the same scene. Yes, I think that I will revisit Kind Hearts and Coronets in the future, but only if I can be assured of a high-definition viewing with synchronized captioning—the film demands such attention.

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