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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)
Reviews
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 ... 13th Earl of Gurney
Arthur Lowe ... Tucker
William Mervyn William Mervyn ... Sir Charles
Coral Browne ... Lady Claire
James Villiers ... Dinsdale
Alastair Sim ... Bishop Lampton
Hugh Burden ... Matthew Peake
Peter O'Toole ... Jack 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. 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the commentary on the DVD Peter O'Toole says that he did the stunt riding the horse to the hunt himself, because he owned a racehorse, Eric the Red, who'd been a good boy, won a few races and was now retired, and he, O'Toole, had always had this dream that he wanted to ride a real thoroughbred racehorse at a flat-out gallop. See more »

Goofs

When they are burying Lady Gurney, the camera casts a shadow over the grave stones and ground. 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 »

Connections

Featured in Venus (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
A moving and disturbing critique of our sets of belief systems.
14 December 2001 | by bozsiSee all my reviews

The Ruling class is a disturbing commentary on the nature and necessity of our whole belief systems. It both highlights the extreme fragility of those beliefs, and takes gently mocking aim at us for our dependency on them. Viewed in that light, the film succeeds 100%. When viewed merely as a satire on the British ruling classes, of course it doesn't. It goes far deeper, becoming also an essay on our tendency to manipulate others for our own benefit: the characters' collective idiosyncrasies serve as punctuation for that essay. Brilliantly acted, often hilarious but always profoundly moving, it is a genuine classic of its kind, notwithstanding its undeniable, though relatively minor, flaws. I'd love to have it on DVD!


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Frequently Asked Questions

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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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