A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
In prison awaiting execution the next morning, Louis, the 10th Duke of Chalfont, puts down on paper the events that led him to his current situation. His mother has been banished from her family, the D'Ascoynes, after she married Louis' father, who was considered far beneath her. After her death, the D'Ascoynes refused permission for her to be buried in the family crypt. Louis then plots his revenge, and kills all those ahead of him in the succession until he becomes the Duke. Along the way, he becomes involved with the married Sibelia who, when spurned, makes sure he ends up in prison. The day before his execution, Sibelia recants her testimony, saving him not only from the gallows, but also sets him free. Once outside the prison however, he realizes he's forgotten one little thing.Written by
Sir Alec Guinness nearly drowned in the scene where the Admiral goes down with his sinking ship. Guinness was held down by wires whilst the set filled up with water. Once the scene was wrapped, the crew started to leave, until one technician suddenly realized that they had forgotten to release Sir Alec from the wires holding him underwater. He immediately dove into the waters with some wire-cutters and freed Guinness. Fortunately for all concerned, Guinness took great pride in his ability to hold his breath for long periods of time. See more »
The first murder that Louis Mazzini commits involves him swimming fully dressed underwater to release a boat from its moorings. In spite of having brought no change of clothes or even a towel, he is shown shortly after committing the murder paddling down the river with his clothes bone dry. See more »
The opening credits list photos of the 4 leading actors with their character names; in the case of Alec Guinness, 8 photos of the 8 characters he plays are shown, along with the one character name of "The D'Ascoyne Family." In the end credits, the 8 character names are listed for him. See more »
The ending of the US version was extended to show the guards discovering Louis Mazzini's written memoirs/confessions to make it clear to the audience that he did not get away with the murders of his relatives, whilst the UK version remains ambiguous on the subject. See more »
Robert Hamer, the director of "Kind Hearts and Coronets", one of the better comedies to come out of the Ealing studios in the late forties, created a memorable film that still keeps enchanting, no matter how many times one has seen it. This is a film that like a vintage wine gets better with age.
Of course, the right elements were put together in this venture under Mr. Hamer's direction, which is probably the best tribute one could say about the film.
Louis Mazzini, the young man who should have inherited a noble title that is lost as her mother elopes with an Italian tenor and she is disinherited. Louis is determined to regain what's due to him, by whatever means possible. Things go well for him, but he commits a mistake in entering an illicit romance with the calculating Sibella, while at the same time falling in love with the radiant Edith D'Ascoyne, the young widow.
Dennis Price gives a smart account of Louis Mazzini. He is a delight to watch as he keeps scratching off dead relatives from behind the picture frame. Alec Guinness portrays eight D'Ascoynes with an unusual panache. Best of all is Lady Agatha who encounters 'turbulence' while flying in a balloon. Valerie Hobson makes an impression with her Edith and Joan Greenwood is at her best as Sibella.
This is a film to treasure.
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