KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (Hamer, 1949) - Taken together with the last movie, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS, this offers a perfect illustration of how tone, rather than plot, determines the genre of a movie. THE MAN WHO LAUGHS only had an admittedly horrifying disfiguration and a couple of deaths (2, by my count, among them the disfigurer), and a happy ending to boot, but the eerie atmosphere, the heightened feelings, and the gloomy settings make it understandable that it’s classified as horror. This movie, on the other hand, has 7 cold-blooded murders (6 of Alec Guinness’ 8 characters, + 1 girl as collateral damage) after opening with an imminent hanging, yet it’s unmistakable a comedy. It’s the voice-over, mostly, dry and very, very British - a sociopath’s voice-over, sure, but such a suave one. Add the flat lighting, the elision of too-gruesome details, and the cheerful resignation of the protagonist to his fate, and you have something very amusing, eliciting smirks rather than guffaws but certainly not horrifying in the least.
Tonight I finished watching PASSPORT TO PIMLICO (1949, Henry Cornelius), an old Ealing comedy that came out in the same year of Kind Hearts and Coronets. Although it was made by the same studio, I did not enjoy this film as much as Hamer’s. I guess that while the dark humour of KH&C works on more universal and timeless themes, the jokes of Passport to Pimlico are strongly rooted in the problems of the time, such as rationing and the Berlin Blockade, and hence are less felt by a modern viewer who is educated enough in the history of the period, or cannot feel that much connected to it nonetheless.
Without adding text in, the second GIF is like: “I had a headache this big, but I took Excedrin, and it’s gone!” Kidding. XD I managed to find and watch the first episode of Richard E. Grant’s Ealing Comedies. Peter was only shown in the beginning for an upcoming episode to discuss The Ladykillers, but we still sat and watched the entire thing. Not too familiar with many of the British comedies, only the actors and actresses within them. I’m curious to see the next episode. Peter wasn’t in the upcoming previews, but I still want to watch. :)
Just caught up with episode 2 of Richard E Grants show about the Ealing comedies….and low and behold..!…the wonderful man that is Peter Capaldi is a guest on it ! (Complete with really attractive scruff mmmm)