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The Ruling Class (1972)

A member of the House of Lords dies, leaving his estate to his son. Unfortunately, his son thinks he is Jesus Christ. The other, somewhat more respectable, members of their family plot to steal the estate from him. Murder and mayhem ensue.

Director:

Peter Medak

Writers:

Peter Barnes (screenplay), Peter Barnes (play)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Hugh Owens Hugh Owens ... Toastmaster
Harry Andrews ... Ralph Gurney - 13th Earl of Gurney
Arthur Lowe ... Daniel Tucker
William Mervyn William Mervyn ... Sir Charles Gurney
Coral Browne ... Lady Claire Gurney
James Villiers ... Dinsdale Gurney
Alastair Sim ... Bishop Bertie Lampton
Hugh Burden ... Matthew Peake
Peter O'Toole ... Jack Arnold Alexander Tancred Gurney - 14th Earl of Gurney
Michael Bryant ... Dr. Herder
Henry Woolf ... Inmate
Griffith Davies Griffith Davies ... Inmate
Oliver MacGreevy Oliver MacGreevy ... Inmate (as Oliver McGreevy)
Kay Walsh ... Mrs. Piggott-Jones
Patsy Byrne Patsy Byrne ... Mrs. Pamela Treadwell
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Storyline

A member of the House of Lords dies in a shockingly silly way, leaving his estate to his son. Unfortunately, his son is insane: he thinks he is Jesus Christ. The other somewhat-more respectable members of their family plot to steal the estate from him. Murder and mayhem ensues. Written by Mark Logan <marklo@west.sun.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

How do you know you're... God? Simple when I pray to Him I find I'm talking to myself.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Musical

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French | Italian | German | Latin

Release Date:

15 September 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Classe Dominante See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Keep Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's writer, Peter Barnes, went to school just outside Bristol, in Stroud. Also just outside of Bristol is a mental hospital, in the village of Barrow Gurney; "Barrow Gurney" has long been associated in local patois with mental illness. Naming the central family in this play "Gurney" seems more than mere coincidence. See more »

Goofs

When McKyle positions his hands to shoot lightning from his fingers, his thumbs are level, then towards the floor and back to level. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Toastmaster: My Lords. Gentlemen. Pray silence for Ralph Douglas Christopher Alexander Gurney, the thirteenth Earl of Gurney.
13th Earl of Gurney: The aim of the Society of Saint George is to keep Gurney a memory of England. We were once the rulers of the greatest empire the world has ever known. Ruled not by superior force or skill, but by sheer presence.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The 2001 UK Momentum release featured the shorter 123 minute print. The Optimum DVD is a port of the U.S Criterion release and features the full 153 minute UK cinema version (minus the original BBFC cinema cut to a shot of a vivisected rat in a laboratory). See more »


Soundtracks

The Internationale
(uncredited)
Music by Pierre De Geyter
Arranged by John Cameron
Recited by Arthur Lowe
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hilarious, Biting Classic
18 February 2001 | by Mitch-38See all my reviews

Mind blowing, superior satire on the class system in Britain, with a once in a lifetime cast (Peter O'Toole, Alastair Sim "The Zambeesi Missions", Arthur Lowe "Alexi Kronstadt...Revolutionary!", Coral Browne, William Mervyn and so forth). Cinematically, the British have long proved that no one has a better sense of humor, or is as self critical of them, than they themselves. Perhaps, as the saying goes, "It keeps the old girl honest."

This scathing comedy takes no prisoners, whether engaging in outlandish situational dialogue or performers suddenly zipping out in a song and dance routines. There are too many individual gems of dialogue to count (although a personal fave is O'Toole's talk with Mrs. Piggot-Jones and Mrs. Treadwell). The performances are delivered with just the right amount of relish and timing. A modern classic. Highly recommended.


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