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The Ruling Class (Widescreen)

Peter O'Toole , Alastair Sim , Peter Medak    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic DVD of a Fantastic Film March 19 2004
I will eschew the plot summary which ye will find in other reviews above . . . as well as a few spoilers!
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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Jack! I'm Jack! June 26 2002
Up there with Bunuel's work as an analysis of elitism and also up there with "Cannibal! The Musical!" as the strangest (and funniest) musical ever made, this is a treat.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Satire Jan. 8 2002
As brilliant as this movie is, I can only give it 4 stars because its pacing often drags. However, if viewed with patience, this is a very worthwhile film to watch and a wonderful satirical examination of classism (specifically British).
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ruling Class Aug. 24 2002
Format:VHS Tape
The movie is both entertaining and thought provoking. Bringing out the possibilities of the "Jeckel and Hyde" in each of us. Portarying a personallity of a rejected man of peace that was forced into a personallity of acceptable evil. A must see.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Decent, and very British Nov. 24 2003
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 Ripper--with musical numbers interspersed throughout. Genius idea. The movie is ripe for a modern re-make.
Unfortunately, a lot of the British-isms and dated style of humor can make the movie seem awfully corny in places. And I agree with the reviewer who mentioned a dragging pace at many points. The musical numbers aren't quite as funny as they could/should be, I thought. The funniest moment for me was when we see Peter O'Toole as Jesus for the first time, absurdly made up, commanding the people on his estate to bow down before him while he delivers a pompous monologue to the Heavens. And there are a few classic, great lines here and there. (Society Lady: "When did you first realize you were God?" Jack/Jesus: "When I realized that every time I was praying I was really talking to myself.")
The movie seems dated, I have to admit. In all, I have mixed feelings about it. I found myself wishing the whole ariistocrat-as-Jesus angle could have been played up more. The movie is definitely worth seeing, but don't let all the ecstatic, glowing reviews by the hardcore cult fans prepare you for some unbelievably, otherworldishly hilarious comedy. It's best to go into it with low expectations and be pleasantly surprised by what does work.
Like I said, a re-make of this in the right directors' hands would be marvelous. The concept is brilliant. The execution could have been better. That said, rent it before you buy it and see if it's for you.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars o'tooles tour de force
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 more
Published on June 28 2004 by ageofanxiety
4.0 out of 5 stars the brother of Sherlock Holmes!, you illeterate oaf!
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 more
Published on March 12 2004 by Dan Engelke
1.0 out of 5 stars Stay Away
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 more
Published on Jan. 9 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars I came in with expectations...
and those expectations were totally wrong. I read reviews that tried to be overly critical of exactly what was satirized in the film. Read more
Published on Sept. 14 2002 by Wesley
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss the HOOSIER CONNECTION !
Check out the comprehensive customer reviews -- I echo the acclaim for Peter O'Toole -- wild, unchained! Read more
Published on Feb. 21 2002 by mcHaiku
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't know about Jack... but O'Toole IS God!
This wicked, hilarious and original piece of filmmaking could be the wildest British movie ever made as it boldly goes... Read more
Published on Dec 16 2001 by GenV
4.0 out of 5 stars BETTER JESUS THAN JACK - WWJD?
Jack may be an English Lord, but he's clearly nuts: he thinks he's Jesus Christ. And then he's "cured" and comes to believe that he is in fact Jack the Ripper. Read more
Published on Dec 9 2001 by Robin Simmons
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply wickedly good
The Ruling Class is a brilliant film, based on a brilliant play. The story is simple enough. The Earl of Gurney dies, his heir is mad, and thinks he is Jesus Christ. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2001 by Christina Brooks
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