The Ruling Class
(PG, 2:33:31, Released 1972)
|Genres:||Musical & Performing Arts, Art House & International, Classics, Comedy|
|Release Date:||Jan 1, 1972|
|DVD Release Date:||Oct 30, 2001|
|Starring:||Peter O'Toole, Alastair Sim, Arthur Lowe, Harry Andrews, Coral Browne, Michael Bryant, Griffith Davies, Hugh Owens, Henry Woolf, Oliver MacGreevy|
|Directed by:||Peter Medak|
|Synopsis:||An institutionalized schizophrenic with a Messiah complex inherits the position of an English Earl in this cutting satire of British society, based on a play by Peter Barnes. The film's irreverent tone is established with the disturbingly hilarious death of the thirteenth Earl of Gurney during a bizarre attempt at auto-erotic asphyxiation. To the dismay of the earl's family, the title passes to his son Jack (Peter O'Toole), who has been locked away for eight years after claiming to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. Mad but harmless, Jack is released to assume his seat. However, his embrace of Christianity proves incompatible with a position of power in "normal" society, where peace and love are considered serious weaknesses, and a somewhat unhinged psychiatrist is called to help him adjust. Meanwhile, Jack's scheming uncle, Sir Charles (William Mervyn), works on developing a complex scheme to trick Jack out of his position. Loaded with idiosyncratic touches from eccentric camera angles to unexpected outbursts of song, the film creates an experience nearly as inspired and mad as O'Toole's brilliantly hilarious central performance. The film's devilish invention may at times seem overloaded, but most drawbacks are redeemed by the sharpness of the satire, particularly during the memorably disturbing finale. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi|
|Full movie details|
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Other Top Reviews
December 8, 2007
Angry, angry, dense, dark and ridiculous screed nominally aimed at English class system w/ O'Toole as J.C. Supernut. Kinda like Bunuel meets Monty Python with live ammo.
January 4, 2011
I was surprised by how thrown-together this movie seems to be. It is definitely ambitious in its biting social commentary; but, in the end, it ends up falling victim to its own outlandish charm. What starts off as a funny and searing look at British artistocracy quicky spirals into an acid-trip of a movie that is as discombobulated as it is filled with acting talent that is severely misused. Mind-blowing potential; mind-numbing payoff.
July 11, 2010
Top performance from O'Toole, with exceptional supporting work, especially from renowned character actor Alastair Sim. Fantastic dialogue, but that is because the script is adapted from a stage play (and the adaptation done by the same writer); at moments it is easy to tell that this is a stage adaptation even if you didn't know because of the short asides into the camera and general elevated form of dialogue.
The selected filming locations are exquisite and film beautifully. Next to O'Toole's performance, my favorite element of the film is that it chooses to overtly blur the line between an objective reality and the subjective reality Jack is experiencing by seamlessly sewing the two together when the situation warrants it.
First two thirds of the film is a romping satire and mostly all-out fun, which contrasts with the quickly darkening melodrama of the final act. Some viewers will be jarred by this transition, just as some other viewers won't recognize that the supporting characters are being genuine when they suddenly align themselves with Jack (when the prior scheme had been to remove him from his inherited lordship and return him to permanent mental illness institution). Even if the relationship chemistries feel weak at times, the main character's struggle never feels false but indeed takes on a mythical quality.
This is a movie where I WANT so badly to rate it four stars, but I just feel that the scene progression jumps over some long periods of time too easily and that perhaps the scenes picked to be in the film aren't always the most significant to Jack's life (but perhaps that is because many of the scenes are of his most critical moments so anything else will feel pointless in comparison). Some of the editing is a bit rough, but I reckon that's because this was this director's first big outing. Bottom line is that the writer Peter Barnes delivers an excellent satire of English society, perceptions of mental illness, the "eccentric wealthy" character-type, family quarrels, and of the abuse of power and privilege.
May 9, 2010
Offbeat to say the least. A very game cast frolics their way through this weird hybrid of a film. Peter O'Toole gives his all to the part and Coral Browne is terrific in as the pragmatic sister in law.
May 22, 2008
OMG why did nobody tell me about this movie? A film of such ridiculous, witty, dark and hilarious nature it must be seen to be believed.
Peter O'Toole thinks he's Jesus...and then it gets weird
March 10, 2008
A hilarious dark British satire that has a little bit of everything (murder, surrealism, dance and musical numbers). Throw in one of Peter O'Toole's best performances, and you've got a great film!
December 6, 2007
wicked satire on the aristocracy...with musical numbers! o'toole chews scenery as the mad 14th earl of gurney and i love the bolshevik butler! a really dark and bizarre comedy
November 19, 2006
Crackheaded British humor that nothing can rival. One of O'Toole's best.
fb721890245March 5, 2014
This lightly known comedy is incredibly unorthodox and is really a hidden gem. The late Peter O'Toole is fabulous in his role as the heir to an Earldom and the Second Coming of Christ (in his own mind).
April 29, 2010
I didn't really get this movie, I assume very few do. It is definitely one of the strangest movies I have seen.
June 8, 2007
Ok, this is a whacky film, but it is a hoot. I love Peter O'Toole.
June 25, 2011
Bizarre, dark, and humorous, three of my favoriite movie qualities! I've seen this several times before but do not tire of it. I'm glad it's now on Flixster. Peter O'toole is brilliant. This is as close to a "musical" as I like. Some favorite lines; "Not here in the garden. Last time I was kissed in a garden it turned out rather awkward." "It's all right, they agreed to be cut." (When giving flowers to Lady Grace) "Into my galvanized pressure cooker." A favorite scene: When Jack and Lady Grace are courting and doing the bird mating dance. "Coo, coo." Hilarious!
July 8, 2008
Surreal and disturbing... and Peter was never sexier!!
A terrific musi-comedy with a very black side... see it!!
June 27, 2008
A wealthy young man who believes he is Jesus, suddenly inherits his familes estate. Other relatives seek to have him commited, so that the money can go into their hands, realizing that Jesus, in the modern world would look like madness, the young man...(read more)d(Peter O'Toole) models himself after another looming shape in 20th English culture, Jack The Ripper. In between there are songs, dance, and some of the darkest, dryest, and witty'st dialogue your likely to see on film. A hilarious, film adaptation of an award winning stage play. A brilliant script about Idols, Madness, Culture Clash, naivety, and fatalism. One of the best British films, Ive ever seen, and some of the best writing anywhere.
April 19, 2008
Peter O'Toole is God. No...really. Funny and certainly controversial. Told with that fantastical brand of random and silly sense of British humor. Yes, i said 'fantastical'.
February 16, 2008
Hilarious satire on Britain's "ruling class." Peter O'Toole gives an excellent performance as God/Jack the Ripper.
December 27, 2007
Hearkens back to "Kind Hearts and Coronets," only with random outbursts of song, dance, and Gilbert and Sullivan. Masterful peformance by O'Toole, the sort of unrestrained random humour that I love.
May 23, 2007
All film students should study Peter O Tooles performance here. What a film. Will haunt you forever. Bizarre but a thinking mans film.
May 4, 2007
A bizarre film made up of two equally bizarre halves. Watching Peter O'Toole believe himself the son of God is quite funny, especially when he breaks into song - but the later delusion of Jack the Ripper turns the whole thing on its head. Not a film to be dismissed lightly, it's also in need of multiple viewings to really comprehend.
January 25, 2007
SO. FUCKED. UP. But hilarious. Peter is the heir to some fortune, he is insane and thinks he is Jesus. There is much singing (!) and blasphemy I'm sure...