->''"Kind hearts are more than coronets,''\\
''And simple faith than Norman blood."''
-->-- Creator/AlfredLordTennyson, “[[http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Lady_Clara_Vere_de_Vere Lady Clara Vere de Vere]]”

A 1949 British BlackComedy from Creator/EalingStudios, starring Sir Creator/AlecGuinness, Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Valerie Hobson, Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Alec Guinness, Alec Guinness, Alec Guinness, Alec Guinness and [[OverlyLongGag Alec Guinness]] (who plays eight members of the D'Ascoyne family, including an elderly suffragette).

Louis D'Ascoyne Mazzini is the son of the daughter of the Duke of Chalfont and a poor Italian opera singer. Infuriated by the ''mésalliance'', her family, the D'Ascoynes, denies any knowledge of Louis' existence, and when his mother dies, will not even grant her burial in the family vault. Louis formulates a plan to kill all the members of the D'Ascoyne family in various ridiculous ways in order to gain what he sees as his justified revenge and place at the head of the D'Ascoyne family. Meanwhile, Louis' childhood sweetheart, Sibella, is laying her own schemes for advancement...though Louis' attractive cousin Edith stands in her way.

The movie has a very dry, ironic tone to it, but there are some moments of complete silliness. For instance, Louis kills one of the D'Ascoynes by shooting an arrow at her hot air balloon (and then reciting a humorous variation on the Longfellow poem "The Arrow and the Song" - see RhymesOnADime below).

[[TheFilmOfTheBook Based on]] the 1907 novel ''Israel Rank'' by Roy Horniman where the eponymous character is half-Jewish rather than half- Italian. The film changed Israel's name and heritage because the film had a Rank (J. Arthur) as its producer and a film about a half-Jewish serial-killer wouldn't have gone down very well so shortly after the fall of the Nazi Regime in Germany, though the book itself is not anti-Semitic.

Adapted into TheMusical in 2014 as ''Theatre/AGentlemansGuideToLoveAndMurder'', nominated for 10 Tony Awards (winning 4, including Best Musical) in its Broadway run.
!!This movie provides examples of:
* AdaptationDistillation: Quite a few things are taken away (mostly relatives/victims) and a few things added; the twist ending being the biggest thing. But the book is over 400 pages long so some changes were bound to be made. There are also changes that aren’t for the sake of brevity; Chalfont is Hammerton in the book and the d'Ascoynes are the Gascoynes.
* AffablyEvil: Louis, very much so.
* AmbiguousEnding: So were Louis's "memoirs" discovered or not? In the [=US=] version they were, but the original leaves it ambiguous (though it ''implies'' they would be).
* AristocratsAreEvil: Though some of the d'Ascoynes seem less bad than others and Lord Ascoyne d'Ascoyne the banker actually seems like a nice guy -- hence Louis's relief that he dies of natural causes and therefore doesn't have to be murdered. Young Henry is also an amiable doormat — Louis comments that "he seemed a very pleasant young fellow, and I regretted that our acquaintanceship must be so short." Which doesn't stop Louis from killing him and stealing his wife, of course. Then we have Louis... Upon his accession to the Dukedom, his speech to his people makes it seems as though he will be a BenevolentBoss — but what with murdering at least seven people (six d'Ascoynes, young Ascoyne's mistress, and who knows how many other people with that bomb), it could be argued that he's become a straight example.
* AsLongAsItSoundsForeign: In-universe; Louis is posing as a [[UsefulNotes/TheBritishEmpire colonial]] [[TheVicar vicar]] from somewhere in Africa to ingratiate himself with Lord Henry who quizzes him on aspects of his fictional parish. He invents an utterly ludicrous indecipherable dialect.
* AssholeVictim: Many of the d'Ascoynes. Especially Young Ascoyne, who gets Louis fired from his job.
* BestServedCold: Louis sleeps with his old rival's fiancee on the day before their wedding. As Louis remarks:
-->"I couldn't help feeling that even Sibella's capacity for lying was going to be taxed to the utmost. Time had brought me revenge on Lionel, and as the Italian proverb says, revenge is a dish which people of taste prefer to eat cold."
* BettyAndVeronica: Or as Louis puts it: "dear Edith, captivating Sibella".
* BlackComedy: Doesn't get much blacker than a series of murders to earn a dukedom.
* BlackmailIsSuchAnUglyWord: When Louis accuses Sibella of attempting to blackmail him, he saves her the trouble of protesting his wording by adding that 'blackmail' is "an ugly word, but the right one, I think".
* CaptainErsatz: Admiral d'Ascoyne's death in a ship collision closely resembles Admiral Sir George Tryon and the sinking of the HMS ''Victoria'' in 1887.
* ChekhovsSkill: Louis practices archery with Edith d'Ascoyne. It comes in handy later.
* CloserToEarth: The 2012 radio play sequel, ''Kind Hearts and Coronets: Like Father, Like Daughter", has an odd example in that Louis's illegitimate daughter Unity is written out of Edith's will, and true to the name of the play, she embarks on the same type of murder spree against six men standing to receive parts of the d'Ascoyne fortune. How does Unity fit the trope, then? She, unlike her father, is clever enough to ensure she's found innocent, hides her memoirs, and [[KarmaHoudini gets off scot-free]] to live HappilyEverAfter!
* CompleteTheQuoteTitle: See the topof this page.
* ConcealingCanvas: Louis's family tree, on which he records who he has to kill to become Duke, is taped to the back of a painting.
* CoolOldGuy: "The Banker" Lord Ascoyne d'Ascoyne who offers Louis a job even when he's completely ignored by the rest of the family. Louis laments at how he will regret having to kill the man who has shown him such kindness and is relieved when he dies from a stroke.
* DoubleVision: A particularly impressive example at the first funeral scene puts the six remaining Alec Guinnesses in one shot together.
* TheEdwardianEra: The setting of the story.
* EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether: Louis, Sibella and Lionel are old school friends.
* TheEvilPrince: Louis, apart from the detail that the estate he's scheming for is a dukedom and not a kingdom.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Louis references the Victorian meaning (a woman who has been seduced) when he kills the younger d'Ascoyne and his mistress: "I was sorry about the girl, but found some relief in the reflection that she had presumably during the weekend already undergone a fate worse than death."
* FemmeFatale: Sibella.
* FirstPersonSmartass: Louis.
* FlawExploitation: Louis seeks out weaknesses in his opponents and exploits them relentlessly.
* FramingDevice: Louis, while waiting to be executed for murder, [[WritingAboutYourCrime writes a full explanation]] of how and why he committed the murders by way of explaining how he ended up being arrested for a murder he ''didn't'' commit.
* FramingTheGuiltyParty: Louis would have got away scot-free if not for Sibella, angry over being dumped for Edith, implicating him in the murder... of her husband, who actually committed suicide because he was facing financial ruin.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: Henry d'Ascoyne's death. [[spoiler: Louis puts gasoline in a lamp in Henry's darkroom, which goes up in a muffled explosion while Louis and Edith are conversing.]]
* GoingDownWithTheShip: Admiral Lord Horatio d'Ascoyne saves Louis the trouble of murdering him by being so obstinately wrong-headed that he sinks his own ship, and insists on going down with her even though rescue was at hand.
* GoodbyeCruelWorld: Lionel's suicide note is necessary to clear Louis of the charge of his murder. Ironically, this is one of the few deaths in the movie for which Louis is not responsible.
* GorgeousPeriodDress: The actresses in this film, especially Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood, are often seen clad in the height of [[TheEdwardianEra Edwardian-Era]] fashion.
* GottaKillThemAll: The people ahead of Louis in the line of succession.
* GrapesOfLuxury: Louis has them for his last meal.
* UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode: An alternate ending [[ExecutiveMeddling was required for the US]] 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. The UK version remains ambiguous on the subject.
* HowWeGotHere: The film opens with Louis in prison, then goes back to show how he got there.
* HuntingAccident: How Louis murders Ethelred.
* {{Hypocrite}}: Louis when it comes to the Victorian meaning of a FateWorseThanDeath (a woman losing her virginity before marriage). He uses this to rationalize murdering the mistress of young Ascoyne D'Ascoyne along with D'Ascoyne even though she'd done nothing against Louis and wasn't part of Louis' family vendetta. Yet he has no qualms (instead a great deal of [[BestServedCold smug satisfaction]]) at personally "inflicting" the same FWTD on Sibella.
* HypocriticalHumor: Louis says he doesn't want to go hunting with the Duke, saying that "my principles will not allow me to take a direct part in blood sports". This, of course, after he's committed multiple murders.
* KarmaHoudini: Deconstructed. Sibella frames Louis for the death of her husband, and uses evidence against it to blackmail him into marrying her and murdering Edith. Whether Louis would carry this out or [[MurderTheHypotenuse murder her instead]] as he contemplated is never revealed, especially after leaving evidence of the several murders he ''did'' commit within his prison cell.
* KarmicTwistEnding: A DoubleSubversion. Louis gets sentenced to death for the one murder he didn't commit. Then he gets acquitted -- and ''then'' he realizes that he left his memoirs (which describe his ''real'' murders) in his cell.
* KlingonPromotion: This is how Louis becomes the Duke of Chalfont.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle[=/=]TitleDrop: The title is a reference to a Tennyson poem, "Lady Clara Vere de Vere," which Edith quotes at one point during the film.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfRoles: Alec Guinness plays are members of the D'Ascoyne family, invoking UncannyFamilyResemblance.
* NiceHat: Sibella has a great collection of these.
* NotSoFinalConfession: Louis passes the night before his execution writing a full confession to set the record straight about who he killed and why. Minutes after finishing, the news arrives that evidence has turned up exonerating him, and he's not to be executed after all. But then...
* OhCrap: Louis' reaction when he realizes just what they mean by his "memoirs".
* OldFashionedRowboatDate: Ascoyne d'Ascoyne takes his mistress punting, although his intentions are anything but chaste. When he moors his boat to have his way with her, Louis unties it; causing Ascoyne and his mistress to be swept to their deaths over the weir.
* PrettyInMink: Sibella and Edith wear some furs, including a huge fox wrap Edith wears at Louis's trial.
* PublicDomainSoundtrack: "''Il mio tesoro intanto''" from [[Music/WolfgangAmadeusMozart Mozart]]'s ''Theatre/DonGiovanni'' serves both to introduce the film and as something of a {{Leitmotif}} for Louis' mother.
* QuickNip: Variant version -- Henry d'Ascoyne hides his drinking from his teetotaler wife by keeping it among the chemicals in his photographic darkroom. Surprisingly, he is not offed by Louis putting ''actual'' developing fluid in his "developing fluid".
* RepetitiveName: Ascoyne d'Ascoyne.
* RhymesOnADime: With apologies to Longfellow:
-->"I shot an arrow into the air.\\
She fell to Earth in Berkeley Square."
* RunningGag: At one point in the movie, someone speaks to Louis about "a matter of some delicacy". Louis remarks in voiceover that whenever someone talks about a matter of some delicacy, they're usually euphemistically referring to a matter of extreme '''in'''delicacy. Throughout the rest of the movie, people talk about "matters of some delicacy".
* ShoutOut: After his last-minute reprieve, Louis quotes one of Macheath's lines from ''Theatre/TheBeggarsOpera'', another black comedy with a villain protagonist who gets a last-minute reprieve from hanging.
* ToughActToFollow: In-universe, Louis' hangman fears the execution will be this and plans to retire immediately afterwards. "After hanging with the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanging#Silken_rope silken rope]], I'll never be content with hemp".
* UncannyFamilyResemblance:
** Alec Guinness plays all of the D'Ascoynes who stand between Louis and the dukedom.
** In a smaller example, Dennis Price plays both Louis and his opera singer father.
* UnexpectedSuccessor: Louis is ''eighth'' in line for the dukedom.
* TheVicar: The Reverend Lord Henry.
* VillainProtagonist: Louis plans to murder eight people, most of whom he's quite friendly with -- and you ''want'' to see him do it.
* VillainyDiscretionShot: Used throughout Louis' murderous career.
* WickedCultured: Louis, who shows himself rather more cultivated than the wealthier members of the D'Ascoyne family.
* WritingAboutYourCrime: The story is [[FrameStory framed]] as a memoir written by the protagonist in his cell, waiting for his execution.