Login/Register

The List Thus Far (Certified Weird Movies)

3 Women (1977)

8 1/2 (1963)

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (1984)

Akira (1988)

Alice [Neco Z Alenky] (1988)

Alice in Wonderland (1966)

Allegro non Troppo (1976)

Altered States (1980)

The American Astronaut (2001)

Antichrist (2009)

Archangel (1990)

Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

Barbarella (1968)

Barton Fink (1991)

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Begotten (1991)

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Belle de Jour (1967)

Black Swan (2010)

Blood Diner (1987)

Blood Tea and Red String (2006)

A Boy and His Dog (1975)

Branded to Kill (1967)

Brazil (1985)

Bronson (2008)

Careful (1992)

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Cemetery Man [Dellamorte Dellamore] (1994)

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

The City of Lost Children [La cité des enfants perdus] (1995)

Clean, Shaven (1993)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Cowards Bend the Knee, or, the Blue Hands (2003)

Daisies [Sedmikrásky] (1966)

The Dark Backward (1991)

Dead Man (1995)

Dead Ringers (1988)

Delicatessen (1991)

Dillinger is Dead (1969)

Doggiewogiez! Poochiewoochiez! (2012)

Dogtooth [Kynodontas] (2009)

Dogville (2003)

Donnie Darko (2001)

Don't Look Now (1973)

Elevator Movie (2004)

Enemy (2013)

Enter the Void (2009)

Eraserhead (1977)

Escape from Tomorrow (2013)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

Evil Dead II (1987)

Eyes Without a Face [Les Yeux sans Visage] (1965)

Fantastic Planet [La Planète Sauvage] (1973)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Fellini Satyricon (1969)

Final Flesh (2009)

Forbidden Zone (1982)

Funky Forest: The First Contact (2005)

Glen or Glenda (1953)

Gothic (1986)

Gozu (2003)

La Grande Bouffe (1973)

Greaser's Palace (1972)

Gummo (1997)

Häxan [Witchcraft Through the Ages] (1922)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Help! Help! The Globolinks [Hilfe! Hilfe! Die Globolinks] (1969)

Holy Motors (2012)

The Holy Mountain (1973)

The Horrors of Spider Island [Ein Toter hing im Netz] (1960)

House [Hausu] (1977)

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

I Can See You (2008)

Idiots and Angels (2008)

I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK [Saibogujiman Kwenchana] (2006)

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (2009)

L'Immortelle (1963)

Ink (2009)

INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life (1995)

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

John Dies at the End (2012)

Johnny Got His Gun (1971)

Keyhole (2011)

Kontroll (2003)

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kwaidan (1964)

The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

The Legend of Suram Fortress [Ambavi Suramis Tsikhitsa] (1984)

Lisztomania (1975)

Little Otik [Otesánek] (2000)

Lost Highway (1997)

Love Exposure (2008)

Lucifer Rising (1981)

Maelstrom (2000)

Malpertuis (1972)

Maniac (1934)

Marquis (1989)

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

The Milky Way [La Voie Lactee] (1969)

Mr. Nobody (2009)

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Naked Lunch (1991)

Night of the Hunter (1955)

Night Train to Terror (1985)

Nosferatu (1922)

Nostalghia (1983)

O Lucky Man! (1973)

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Paprika (2006)

Performance (1968/1970)

Persona (1966)

Phantasm (1979)

Pi (1998)

The Pillow Book (1996)

Pink Flamingos (1972)

Pink Floyd the Wall (1982)

Prospero's Books (1991)

The Red Squirrel [La Ardilla Roja] (1993)

The Reflecting Skin (1990)

Repo Man (1984)

A Report on the Party and Guests (1966)

Repulsion (1965)

Robot Monster (1953)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Rubber (2010)

Run Lola Run (1998)

The Saddest Music in the World (2003)

Sans Soleil (1983)

Santa Sangre (1989)

The Science of Sleep (2006)

A Serious Man (2009)

Shanks (1974)

Shock Corridor (1963)

Silent Hill (2006)

Sin City (2005)

The Singing Ringing Tree (1957)

Skidoo (1968)

Solaris [Solyaris] (1972) -

Songs from the Second Floor (2000)

Stalker (1979)

Steppenwolf (1974)

Strange Frame: Love & Sax (2012)

Suspiria (1977)

Sweet Movie (1974)

The Swimmer (1968)

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Tales from the Quadead Zone (1987)

Taxidermia (2006)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Tideland (2005)

Time Bandits (1981)

The Tin Drum (1979)

Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

El Topo (1970)

Toto the Hero [Toto le Heros] (1991)

Trash Humpers (2009)

The Tree of Life (2011)

The Trial (1962)

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

Tromeo & Juliet (1996)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

Upstream Color (2013)

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

Vertigo (1958)

Videodrome (1983)

Visitor Q (2001)

Waking Life (2001)

Weekend (1967)

The Wicker Man (1973)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Yellow Submarine (1968)

You, the Living [Du Levande] (2007)

Zardoz (1974)

THE RULING CLASS (1972)

When I was halfway through writing this article, actor Peter O’Toole passed away. He serves as yet another example of just how pointless, asinine, vapid, and meaningless the Academy Awards are. Rightfully nominated a zillion times, O’Toole is in the fine company of such Academy Award losers as , , Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland, Richard Burton, Alfred Hitchcock, and . The Academy did eventually give O’Toole its condescending honorary Oscar, as it did to Chaplin, but that’s a mere smokescreen to mask their own artlessness.

O’Toole’s performances ranged from great to quirky and interesting in films like Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Beckett (1964), Lord Jim (1965), Night of the Generals (1967), The Lion in Winter (1967), Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969), Murphy’s War (1971), The Ruling Class (1972), Man Friday (1975), Zulu Dawn (1979), The Stunt Man (1980), Masada (1981), My Favorite Year (1982), The Last Emperor (1987), and Venus (2006) Naturally, as prolific as he was, he had his share of embarrassing bombs: Caligula (1979), Supergirl (1984), and, most of all, Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage (2008). His last film is the soon to be released Katherine of Alexandria (2014).

The Ruling Class was, almost immediately, a cult hit. It earned O’Toole yet another Oscar nomination, but he lost out to Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972). Although The Godfather is a better film and Brando’s performance was superb, I would stand with a tiny minority in arguing that O’Toole should have won.

The Ruling Class is certainly one of O’Toole’s weirdest films, thus earning its cult reputation. He plays Jack, the 14th Earl of Gurney. Jack goes by “J.C.” because he believes himself to be none other than Jesus Christ. Jack’s daddy, the 13th Earl (Harry Andrews), pulls an Albert Dekker and hangs himself in a tutu. Paranoid schizo Jack shows up to run the estate in daddy’s place. Jack has had a life-size cross conveniently built in the castle where he can love everyone from the” bottom of my soul to the tip of my penis.”

Still from The Ruling Class (1972)Peter Medak directed from Peter Barnes’ play and, with Peter O’ Toole starring, there is a lot of phallic symbolism afoot. Naturally, being a British movie of the 70s, there is plenty of other symbolism being bandied about as well, including a battle of misfit deities, an assault by an ape in a top hat, Ebenezer Scrooge as a phlegmatic bishop (Alastair Sim), a drunkard leftist butler (Arthur Lowe), a usurping by the Electric Messiah (Nigel Green), and Jack’s miraculous born again transformative “cure” from Jesus Christ (the God Of Love) to Jack the Ripper (the God of Wrath and Vengeance). Society’s acceptance of Jack as the serial-killing deity, as opposed to its rejection of Jack as pacifist god, is about as subtle as it sounds.

Like many British films of the period, The Ruling Class is imbued with psychedelic surrealism. What sets it apart from films like The Magic Christian (1969) is its theatrical ensemble, topped by a bouncing-off-the-walls performance by  O’Toole. Even with the superb cast of Sims and Lowe, O’ Toole walks easily away with the film. Other than T.E Lawrence, J.C. may be his best performance.

The movie is inevitably (and deliriously) dated, with its psychedelic first half giving way to Clockwork Orange territory in the second half. The Ruling Class’ stage origins are keenly felt, and the vaudevillian musical numbers add to the lunacy of this genre-proof film. Medak’s direction is acidic and idiosyncratic. He handles blasphemy in the best “theater of the absurd” type of way. How does flower child J.C. know he is God? “When I pray, I find I am talking to myself.”

The Criterion Collection debatably erred in restoring 20 excised minutes to the film, making The Ruling Class excessive, but perhaps even more bizarre, in its 154 minute version. Apart from that, there is the usual exemplary Criterion extras, including home movies supplied by Medak, excellent commentary tracks, photo galleries, and a beautifully remastered, digital print.

1 comment to THE RULING CLASS (1972)

  • Steve Sanders

    This is an intelligent and well written review unlike the review which continually referred to the movie as a “comedy”. I am glad this movie is seen as a cult movie – I saw it once on late night tv in the 1970′s and I have never forgotten it. I must confess to being too scared to buy the DVD in case it didn’t live up to memory. Vale Peter O’toole – the actor who perfected the tortured soul – Lawrence of Arabia , Lord Jim et al – perhaps all the better celebrated for the outstanding work that didn’t attract an Oscar .

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Indie Flix special offer

indieflix offer