Kind Hearts and Coronets. 1949. Great Britain. Directed by Robert Hamer. Written by Hamer, John Dighton, Nancy Mitford, based on the novel by Roy Horniman. With Alec Guinness, Dennis Price, Joan Greenwood. DCP. 4K restoration from the 35mm nitrate original negative, scanned by the BFI archive and restored by Silver Salt Restoration. 106 min.
In what’s often cited as the definitive black, eccentric British comedy, impoverished Dennis Price narrates how he ascended to the peerage by knocking off his rich relations, the D’Ascoynes—all eight of them played by Alec Guinness (including a playboy, an admirable, a general, and a dowager). Robert Hamer’s precise direction creates a tone of genteel irony as Price, in the role of a lifetime, drolly dispatches what remains of the British aristocracy in the harsh new world of postwar Britain.