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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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Director: Martyn Burke
Stars: Peter O'Toole, David Hemmings, Donald Pleasence
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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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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

Peter O'Toole performed the stunt of Jack jumping off the cross himself. 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 »

Connections

Featured in The 75th Annual Academy Awards (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

God Save the Queen
(uncredited)
Traditional
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"My name is Jack!"
14 March 2005 | by David_FramesSee all my reviews

A scathing and profoundly witty attack on Britain's social and political institutions with Peter O'Toole on his best ever form as Jack, the Son of an English Earl who inherits his Father's estate when the old man accidentally kills himself via auto-erotic asphyxiation. The only problem for Jack's relatives is that he's a paranoid Schziophrenic who thinks he's Jesus and they're quick to move for his indefinite committal when he starts to talk about the relinquishing of material possessions and tolerance toward all men. The Ruling Class is a film of two halves. The first is some of the best character comedy you'll ever see. As "JC" who wears glasses because he's cold, O'Toole commands every scene benefiting from some superbly written monologues and one liners, the standout being his pre-wedding speech on the cross and he's assisted by the creme de la creme of British character actors, Arthur Lowe a standout as the newly liberated Trokskyite Butler Tuck with a blatant contempt for his old masters. The second half however, is dark stuff indeed - jet black in fact. Apparenty 'cured' after an arranged confrontation with the AC-DC messiah, Jack dresses as a Victorian gentleman, talks about capital punishment and superior breeding and concerns no-one, the fact he believes himself to be Jack the Ripper going completely unnoticed by his peers who prime him for his climatic accession to the House of Lords. The conceit is milked for all its worth and the final scenes with a hallucinatory Jack looking at his fellow peers in the House as decayed corpses is a particularly chilling postscript to the story. Subtle? No way but its sledgehammer to the concept of patronage and privilege as a criteria for governance and influence. Like the best satire its savage, angry stuff - possibly overlong and too conscious of its theatrical origins but ultimately no less caustic or inventive for it. Class indeed.


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