When an English earl dies under embarrassing circumstances, the title passes to his son Jack (Peter O’Toole), who has been locked away for 8 years after claiming to be the second coming of Jesus Christ—much to the dismay of the rest of the family, who’d like nothing more than Jack out of the way.
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One of the most British films I have ever seen is an interesting satirical jab at the British class system. Peter O'Toole is at his best as the man who becomes "cured" of believing he is God, only to turn into Jack the Ripper incarnate.
Some good hard satire and some fine performances can't quite salvage this film, which all too often comes off as merely stagy and posed, downright cheap looking in places. Few major films are so badly made.
***1/2. Good adaptation of a play. The musical scenes and Jack's hallucinations are well inserted in the narrative. In 1972, the criticism of the British class system must certainly have shocked more the lambda viewer than in 2010. So let's rather focus on the cast's performance with a special mention to Peter O'Toole and Arthur Lowe. Recommended.
Ignore Peter O'Toole and you will see one of the finest comedic ensembles of the early seventies: even Mel Brooks would have offered up his soul for at least four of these weirdo geniuses. Pay attention to Peter O'Toole (or the vengeful God) and you will see one of the angriest, most eloquent Tourette's-inspired skewerings of class arrogance before Peter Greenaway invented Mr. Spica's restaurant.
A terrific and biting British satire film with some brilliantly Shakespearian dialogue, delivered by the all-time great Peter O'Toole. This film really drives home the point of how shameful O'Toole missed out on eight Academy Awards. A bit longer than it may need to be, The Ruling Class still finds a way to fit in zany scenes and musical numbers throughout.