The Ruling Class (Widescreen)
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Peter O'Toole gives a tour-de-force performance as Jack, a man "cured" of believing he's God-only to become Jack the Ripper incarnate. Based on Peter Barnes' irreverent play, this darkly comic indictment of Britain's class system peers behind the closed doors of English aristocracy. Insanity, sadistic sarcasm, and black comedy-with just a touch of the Hollywood musical-are all featured in this beloved cult classic directed by Peter Medak.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is one of my favorite films that examines a number of issues, particularly what is "acceptable" in a religion. It is extremely well-cast, with Peter O'Toole turing in one of his best performances. It is a pleasure to watch Alister Sim--the best Scrooge ever--as a befuddled Anglican bishop. Fans of the Blackadder will enjoy seeing "Nursey" as a village busy-body who wishes to bring back flogging.
The DVD is a wonderful treatment. The US release--and subsequent videos--lacked some scenes lost for length. This is a film that is based on a play, and every character had a soliloquy--until someone cut them! Here, finally is the complete film. Visually, it is beautiful.
A big suprise is the "goodies." The running commentary includes the director, Peter Medak, the playwright/screen writer Peter Barnes, and even Peter O'Toole. It is an excellent addition to the movie rather than voices blathering about themselves.
The insert also has a nice essay from a British film professor.
Fans of the film need this DVD.
A review above complained it was not "funny." How one cannot laugh at Harry Andrews in a tutu, military garb, hanging himself in order to [CENSORED--Ed.] I do not know?! However, it is NOT a comedy. It is a play that has social satire, some comedy, a fair amount of farce and darkness and tragedy.
The only warning that I give is the DVD back-notes reveals some spoilers! If you have NOT seen the film or stumbl'd upon them in some reviews above, make sure you do not read the back!
Its length can seem intimidating, but it goes by quickly. The opening half has a lot of the feel and wit of Victorian drawing room comedies, only infinitely more scandalous and blasphemous. After the 13th Earl of Guerney buys the farm in rather spectacular fashion, it goes to his son, Jack. Only Jack would prefer Joshua; you see, he thinks he's Jesus Christ. This naturally scandalizes his uncle, who of course is out for the family money.
To blow what follows wouldn't be fair, because you won't see it coming. Suffice to say this goes from being light, witty comedy to something much more serious; the line I quoted above closes out the film and it's one of the more chilling things you'll hear.
This is highly recommended. Even if you don't like it, you'll never be able to hear "The hip-bone's connected to the thigh-bone..." without busting a gut again.
Peter O'Toole, playing Jack Gurney, inherits an estate and a title from his eccentric father. This is much to his relatives' horror since Jack believes that he is Jesus/the God of Love. They come up with a scheme to marry him to a prostitute so she will bear him an heir, then they can lock him away for life, thus avoiding any embarrassment to his title. Jack starts out as a harmless eccentric who loves and accepts all people and rejects materialism (which frightens visiting snobs). However, as the result of the interference of his relatives and his psychiatrist, he begins to believe instead that he is Jack the Ripper/the God of Wrath.
While Jack's new personality is far more disturbing than his original harmless eccentricities, he is now accepted by the ruling class as one of them. Since he now answers to his own name (Jack) and begins to act like a racist and snobby bigot, his relatives believe him to be perfectly sane. The upper class applauds his newfound goal of reintroducing capital punishment and torture to the corrections system in order to restore a grip of fear over the lower classes and restore dignity to Britain. The fact that he refers to himself as the Lord also no longer draws attention since, through his inheritance, he is now a member of the House of Lords. One particularly striking scene has Jack perceiving the House of Lords as a decayed hall occupied by rotting corpses even as the members wildly applaud his speech, a very biting commentary on that institution's nature.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
the main flaw of this film is that it overstays its welcome. that said, o'toole delivers one of his most powerful over the top performances. Read morePublished on June 28 2004 by ageofanxiety
wow, this is quite honestly the weirdest(not to be confused with strange, that is reserve for clockwork orange) movie i have ever seen, and ive seen some weird ones, but... Read morePublished on March 12 2004 by Dan Engelke
I wasn't sure what to expect of this movie. The concept is brilliant: an aristocrat who believes himself to be Jesus, and is "cured" of this mania only to become Jack the... Read morePublished on Nov. 24 2003 by Oliver Sheppard
This movie is described as a black comedy. While it is certainly very "black", over the top in my estimation, I found little humor in it. Read morePublished on Jan. 9 2003
The movie is both entertaining and thought provoking. Bringing out the possibilities of the "Jeckel and Hyde" in each of us. Read morePublished on Aug. 24 2002 by Sharon G. Dickinson
Check out the comprehensive customer reviews -- I echo the acclaim for Peter O'Toole -- wild, unchained! Read morePublished on Feb. 21 2002 by mcHaiku
This wicked, hilarious and original piece of filmmaking could be the wildest British movie ever made as it boldly goes... Read morePublished on Dec 16 2001 by GenV
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