KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, 1949
A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.
CLICK HERE and watch 2009 MOVIES FOR FREE!
Two words. Alec. Guinness. In the genre-defying, (potential) earliest black comedy (I'll have to investigate that.) Alec Guinness blows minds in every one of his 8 roles. That's right, eight. He plays every single member of the D'Ascoyne family. My absolute favorite is Lady Agatha.
The plot is a convoluted idea of a distant relative of the D'Ascoyne family (Louis Mazzini), that tries to ascend his way to claim the title of duke. He climbs up the family tree by hacking away at every single branch on this tree.
This movie is a little deceptive... at first, it seems like the style and he pace of a french comedy of manners ( i.e. Rules of the Game), so you prepare yourself for that type situation. Very formal at first, and you expect the jokes to be quick, and polite. But, then it changes the format when you realize what Mazzini is preparing to do, and it's pretty jarring.
In yet another twist, Sibella, (after Mazzini gains the title of Duke) Sibella frames him for a murder that he actually doesn't commit, and our "hero" (of sorts) gets in jail. Here he begins writing his memoirs detailing each devilish act.
The key piece for me is how magnificently Alec Guinness plays all of these 8 characters, (which initially was supposed to be only 4). He plays them all with such conviction.. But also the jokes feel very quick, this film could have been a predecessor to Howard Hawks "His Girl Friday."
So watch this film and see how and why it takes more than just a lot of make up, to successfully play multiple roles within the same film. (Sorry Eddie Murphy.) This film ranks very highly among the best British films of all time, and the greatest comedies of all time as well. It is very easy to see why.