[[quoteright:229:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the_ruling_class_distribution_poster_u_s_2687.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:229:The Ruling Class]]

''The Ruling Class'' is a 1972 British black comedy film, and adaptation of Peter Barnes' satirical stage play which tells the story of Jack, a paranoid schizophrenic British nobleman (played by Creator/PeterOToole) who inherits enormous power and privilege in Great Britain. His family (and neglected heirs) attempt to steer him into siring an heir which they can look after (along with the massive estate) while Jack, the 14th Earl of Gurney, is tucked back into a straightjacket. The biggest obstacle: He's convinced he's Jesus Christ.

The film co-stars Alastair Sim, William Mervyn, Coral Browne, Harry Andrews, Carolyn Seymour, James Villiers and Arthur Lowe. It was produced by Jules Buck and directed by Peter Medak. The film is a "commercial failure [...that] has since become a cult classic"; Peter O'Toole described it as "a comedy with tragic relief".

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!!This film provides examples of:
* AllLovingHero: As long as he thinks he's Jesus Christ, the 14th Earl of Gurney gets along with everybody.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: A psychiatrist asks the Earl one in the second half. The Earl gives an ArmorPiercingResponse, and seconds later, they're both singing an old college boating song.
* TheBadGuyWins: A very strange example, but he does.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: All the Gurneys want is for the 14th Earl to stop referring to himself as Christ, and start answering to his given name, Jack. [[spoiler: He does. As in, Jack the Ripper.]]
* BecomingTheMask: Grace is recruited to marry the 14th Earl and produce an heir that can take over the estate. She surprises herself when she genuinely falls in love with him.
* BerserkButton: The 14th Early of Gurney will FLIP OUT if you call him by his given name, Jack, or contest any of his reality, for that matter. Not played for laughs.
* BlackComedy: The Butler drunkenly discovers [[spoiler: Lady Claire]] dead on the floor. Instead of showing horror, he shouts and cheers for joy that there's one less Gurney in the world.
* BrainwashedAndCrazy: The Gurneys successfully break the 14th Earl of his delusion that he is the Christ. [[spoiler: He replaces the role with Jack the Ripper and lives up to the name.]]
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Lady Grace does a burlesque act for the audience, in her wedding dress. On her wedding night.
* BreakThemByTalking: The Earl of Gurney receives this from an equally mad Old Testament 'God', re-inforced by his psychiatrist.
* {{Burlesque}}: Lady Grace does one in her wedding dress. On her wedding night. To the FOURTH WALL.
* TheButlerDidIt: Tucker is framed for this to keep Jack out of prison after he murders a lover.
* CloudCuckoolander: The 14th Earl of Gurney firmly believes he's Jesus Christ, and a loving god. Harmless as the trope implies [[spoiler: until he starts believing he's Jack the Ripper, instead]].
* DarkMessiah: Once he's 'cured', the 14th Earl gains political standing by calling for Old English Values, severe punishments, and decrying anything resembling modernity or change. "Bring back fear!!"
* EmpathicEnvironment: Thunderheads scream and lightning splits the sky... [[spoiler: the night the 14th Earl is broken of his Christ delusion, replaces it with Jack the Ripper, and his wife gives birth.]]
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: As Jesus Christ, he enters beneath a halo of sunlight and spouts messages of love and kindness. [[spoiler: As Jack the Ripper, he points a gun at his entire family and has a jarring verbal tic.]]
* AGodAmI: The 14th Earl of Gurney in spades. Shared with and contested by another delusional who believes he is the angry, Old Testament God. Its actually ok as long as he believes that God is love. [[spoiler: Its different once he believes that the world and God works by cruelty and not by love.]]
* {{Hallucinations}}: The 14th Earl has a few, between seeing lightning coursing between the Old Testament God's fingers, a man in a gorilla suit, even transporting himself to Edwardian London.
* HellIsThatNoise: Try [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c3CwmLjVpE this]] on for size.
* IJustWantToBeLoved: Sadly the whole reason that Jack has this whole J.C. delusion is because he was neglected and bullied in his formative years so he needed to believe that he was someone special who is love incarnate so that he can feel exactly what he missed all his life.
* ImportantHaircut: The 14th Earl receives one at the midway point. Good-bye, Jesus Christ. [[spoiler: Hello, Jack the Ripper.]]
* InadequateInheritor: The Gurney family is convinced the rightful heir is this, seeing as he's a paranoid schizophrenic who thinks he's Jesus Christ.
* TheJeeves: Tucker is this at turns. The 13th Earl was decidedly eccentric and Tucker didn't bat an eye. The 14th is legitimately insane, and Tucker stays in service. He's rewarded 30,000 pounds for his troubles... [[spoiler: and later framed for murder when Jack decides he's Jack the Ripper.]]
* LaserGuidedKarma: Jack's uncle is reduced to a hospitalized invalid after trying to have his nephew committed. The same goes for his psychiatrist, who ends up contorting painfully under electro-shock therapy.
* LieDetector: The 14th Earl is asked if he's God. He says no. The machine says he's lying.
* LoveAtFirstNote: The 14th Earl of Gurney recognizes his 'wife' the second she arrives, singing. He joins her in a duet.
* LyricalDissonance: The 'cured' Jack leads a rousing rendition of 'Dem Bones'... singing about the bones he'd like to break if you put a toe outside Old English Values. It doubles as a brief VillainSong with members of the community like Dinsdale, Mrs Treadwell and Mrs Piggot joining him.
* TheMentallyDisturbed: Charming as he can be, the 14th Earl is legitimately a danger to himself and others.
* MassiveMultiplayerScam: The 14th Earl of Gurney is convinced he's married to a woman who's been dead for years. His unscrupulous uncle brings him a Mole who plays along. The Earl immediately sees her as the genuine article.
* MindRape: Dr. Herder after speaking with Claire recruits a madman who believes he is the angry, Old Testament God, to break the 14th Earl of his delusions of Christhood. [[spoiler: They succeed, to their peril. Unusually the MindRape is about showing him the reality and taking him out of his comfort zone rather than driving him nuts. It is still unspeakably painful for him.]]
* MoodWhiplash: From playful, relatively lighthearted, musical absurdity in the first half to bleak, borderline horror in the second.
** In fact even the first half had a few brief sombre moments like the doctor explaining that the emotional trauma and feelings of abandonment and abuse lead Jack to adopt the J.C. persona, or even more whenever the Gurneys and the Doctor ganged up on him and forced him to face the unpleasant truth.
* MoralGuardians: After his 'cure', Jack becomes one [[KnightTemplar of the lethal variety.]]
* TheMusical: Certainly qualifies, as characters burst into choreographed numbers on several occasions. Some or rather most of the singers are even sane.
* OnOneCondition: A clause protects the 13th Earl of Gurney's will from being contested. Any attempt to do so, and the entire estate will be broken up and the proceeds donated to charity.
* PsychoPsychologist: Dr. Herder.
* QuickNip: Tucker sports a glass or a flask in every scene after he receives his inheritance.
* ReallyGetsAround: Lady Claire. Grace implies she is too, but happily settles down with Jack.
* RoyallyScrewedUp: The 14th Earl of Gurney is completely insane. He's harmless, so long as he thinks he's Jesus Christ. [[spoiler: It's a different story once he's Jack the Ripper.]]
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney: The 14th Earl of Gurney is *deeply* insulated from the consequences of his actions, thanks to controlling a massive amount of wealth.
* ServileSnarker: Tucker becomes this after receiving his generous inheritance, and taking to drink.
* SexIsEvil: Jack believes this after his 'treatment'. [[spoiler: [[KnightTemplar He kills the two women who try to arouse him]], as Jack the Ripper.]]
* SkywardScream: Jack gives us a horrifying one, showing he's completely snapped.
* StrawmanPolitical
* TalkativeLoon: Good luck getting a word in edgewise around the 14th Earl of Gurney.
* TherapyBackfire: In the second half, Charles Gurney tries to get the Earl committed. Instead, the psychiatrist JOINS HIM IN SONG and gives him a clean bill of mental health.
* ThroughTheEyesOfMadness: At several points in the picture, it's clear the 14th Earl just doesn't see what other people see.
* UpperClassTwit: Dinsdale. "Oh please help! I'm stuck in the brambles!"
* WordSaladHumor: Jack's prone to this in the first half. Many of the things he says are rather random about places, animals and people and show his abstract thoughts of love for the whole world.
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