“The Ruling Class is a rather… unusual film.”–original trailer to The Ruling Class
DIRECTED BY: Peter Medak
FEATURING: , William Mervyn, Carolyn Seymour, , Coral Brown, Alistair Sim, James Villiers
PLOT: The 13th Earl of Gurney dies, leaving Jack, a madman who believes he is God, as his direct heir to inherit his seat in the House of Lords. His relatives scheme to trick Jack into marriage so that he will produce an heir to carry the Gurney line, and then seek to have him declared incompetent and have him committed. Unexpectedly, however, his psychiatrist’s drastic treatment cures Jack, and now that he no longer believes himself to be God, his disposition is not nearly as gentle.
- Peter Barnes adapted the script from his own play. (The play is till occasionally performed; at the time of this writing, performance at Trafalgar Studios). Peter O’Toole bought the rights from Barnes, and director Medak convinced O’Toole to exercise his option after a night of hard drinking (naturally). was starring in a
- O’Toole was nominated for an Oscar for his performance here, losing to Marlon Brando in The Godfather.
- The original U.S.theatrical release omitted Carolyn Seymour’s striptease scene so that the film could be released with a PG rating.
- The Ruling Class‘ VHS release was cut by 13 minutes so that it would fit on a single tape. Some TV broadcasts used the same shortened version.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Some would say it’s Peter O’Toole as J.C. taking a flying leap off his cross on his wedding day, an image the director liked so much he highlighted it in a freeze frame. We prefer the penultimate hallucination, where the House of Lords is seen as a gallery of cheering corpses and clapping skeletons draped in cobwebs.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Peter O’Toole’s literally insane performance (“bless the pygmy hippos!”), accompanied by frequent hallucinations and left-field musical numbers, turn this literate upper-crust satire from a pointed class parable into something eccentric enough to deserve the designation “weird.”
Original trailer for The Ruling Class
COMMENTS: Although only making it onto film in 1972, the Continue reading 189. THE RULING CLASS (1972)