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Kind Hearts and Coronets(1949)
In the early twentieth century, young Louis Mazzini vows to take revenge on his family, the D'Ascoynes, when he learns how they disinherited his mother. Working his way into their trust, Louis begins to bump off his distant relatives one by one, but complications set in when Edith D'Ascoyne, the widow of his first victim, falls in love with him.
For more about Kind Hearts and Coronets and the Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray release, see Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 5, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Dennis Price, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood, Alec Guinness, John Penrose, Hugh Griffith
Director: Robert Hamer
» See full cast & crew
Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 5, 2011
Robert Hamer's "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (1949) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc contain the film's original theatrical trailer; short introduction to the film by John Landis; documentary film about Dennis Price; BBC Radio 3 essay; restoration comparison; stills gallery; and more. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The film begins with the end. Alone in his cell, Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price, Bikini Baby, Noose for a Lady), a British aristocrat with Italian blood, reveals that he has very little time left to live - until dawn, when he is going to be hanged. He admits that this would be an unfortunate end to his life, but also clarifies that it does not matter. What does is that he took care of them - the d'Ascoynes, who disowned his mother after she ran away with an Italian opera singer. They absolutely had to die. Period.
Then Mazzini begins remembering how he killed each of his relatives. Most of them were incredibly naïve, incredibly pretentious, so easy to manipulate. And he took great pleasure in killing them, but not before he humiliated them. Wealthy sheep, that is what they were, and he was a wolf. Patient, smart, determined to get them.
One of the d'Ascoynes liked Mazzini so much that he even gave him a job in the family controlled bank, and later on made him a partner. It was the best job he ever had because at one point all loan applications had to be approved by him. Those were glory times. He could easily rebuild and destroy lives with his signature and no one would question his decisions.
Another of Mazzini's famous relatives was a passionate photographer (Alec Guinness, The Lavender Hill Mob, The Bridge on the River Kwai). He was also passionate about alcohol. His beautiful wife (Valerie Hobson, Great Expectations, Continental Express) did not know about his problem and thought that he spent most of his time working in his studio. When Mazzini met her, he instantly felt in love with her and decided that he had to have her. An unfortunate accident made his wish come true.
There was a time when Mazzini also wanted to marry his childhood sweetheart, Sibella (Joan Greenwood, Tom Jones, The Detective), but she chose someone else (John Penrose, Hot Ice), a man with money and status, which at the time he did not have. But it felt so good to have their marriage destroyed later on - though, he should have destroyed her first so that she would not have come after him.
The main protagonist in Robert Hamer's Kind Hearts and Coronets is fascinating to behold. He is elegant, polite, respectful, and well-spoken, a true gentleman any woman would love to be seen with. But he is also a cold-blooded serial killer who absolutely loves what he does.
Most of the time Hamer treats the gentleman as a great artist, which is what makes Kind Hearts and Coronets so irresistibly funny. As he quietly explains why and how certain things are done, one is forced to regard the killings as great works of art.
Most of the time the humor is very dry and very cold but feels most appropriate for the decadent society which the d'Ascoynes belong to. The manner in which the gentleman handles his relatives isn't any different than the way they treat the underprivileged around them; only the pretexts they use to excuse their actions are slightly different.
The film has often been praised for Guinness' remarkable stunts as he plays the eight d'Ascoynes Mazzini kills, and rightfully so, but it is Price's performance that delights the most. His casual but disturbing narration and elegant mannerisms are superb.
Note: In 1949, Kind Hearts and Coronets was nominated for Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival.
Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.32:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Robert Hamer's Kind Hearts and Coronets arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment.
The following text appears in the press materials for the Blu-ray release of Kind Hearts and Coronets:
"Kind Hearts and Coronets was scanned in 2K definition on a Nothlight 2 Film Scanner from the original 35mm negative elements and restored in High Definition. The pictures was restored using Film Master D.V.O restoration tools and PFClean software systems, removing dirt, scratches, warps, torn or replacing torn or missing frames and improving stability issues. The sound was also improved, with instances of pops, clicks, hiss and distortion minimised or removed."
This is yet another very impressive addition to Optimum Home Entertainment's catalog of classic Ealing Studios films. The restoration efforts have produced excellent results, especially as far as clarity and contrast levels are concerned, and the film really does look mighty impressive now after various problematic transfers were used to produce a number of mediocre DVD releases during the years. Some minor frame transition issues remain, but fine object detail and color reproduction have been dramatically improved, while contrast has been stabilized. There are no traces of excessive sharpening or noise corrections. Naturally, film grain is retained and well resolved throughout the entire film. The high-definition transfer is also free of large artifacts and ringing patterns. Lastly, a thorough clean-up has been performed as well. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Optimum Home Entertainment have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The audio has been optimized as best as possible. Understandably, the English LPCM 2.0 track has a rather limited dynamic amplitude, but the sound is consistently crisp and more importantly stable. There are no problematic audio distortions. I also did not detect any pops, cracks, and excessive hiss to report in this review.
Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Arguably one of the greatest black comedies ever made, Robert Hamer's Kind Hearts and Coronets has been recently restored and now brought to Blu-ray by British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment. The film looks terrific, the best it ever has, and the Blu-ray also contains a great set of informative supplemental features. If you could play Region-B "locked" Blu-ray discs, make sure to add this film to your collections, folks. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Kind Hearts and Coronets Blu-ray - August 1, 2011
This September, Optimum Releasing will bring Kind Hearts and Coronets to Blu-ray. This dark Ealing comedy focuses on Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price, A Canterbury Tale) - the black sheep of the aristocratic D'Ascoyne dynasty - who decides to reclaim his inheritance ...
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