I am velvety-smoothReview is BELOWI am veltely smooth, too
DVD: Ruling Class, The (1972)
Review Rating:   Very Good  
...back to Index
P to R
Catalog #:
Criterion 132, CC1575D
...or start from scratch
1 (NTSC)

October 30, 2001



Aristocratic Jack is a paranoid schizophrenic who believes he's God. When he's cured of his disillusion, he becomes something closer to the anti-christ.  



Directed by:

Peter Medak
Screenplay by: Peter Barnes
Music by: John Cameron
Produced by: Jack Hawkins,  Jules Buck

Peter O'Toole,  Alastair Sim,  Arthur Lowe,  Harry Andrews,  Coral Browne,  Michael Bryant,  Nigel Green,  William Mervyn,  Carolyn Seymour,  James Villiers,  Kay Walsh,  Patsy Byrne,  Graham Crowden,  Hugh Burden,  James Grout,  James Hazeldine,  Joan Cooper

Film Length: 154 mins
Process/Ratio: 1.77 :1
Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Languages:   English (Mono)
Subtitles:   English
Special Features :  

Audio Commentary by Director Peter Medak, Actor Peter O'Toole, and Screenwriter Peter Barnes (exclusive 2001 recording) / Director Peter Medak's 16mm Home Movies (39:08, no sound) / Rare photographs from Medak's personal collection: 173 pages of photos / Director approved transfer of original 154 minute full-length version / Theatrical trailer for "The Ruling Class" (1.85:1 Anamorphic) / 10 page colour booklet

Comments :

Peter Barnes' vicious satire of the English class system and Catholic church began as a play in the 60s, and spent several years in development when Peter O'Toole bought the rights for his company, Keep Films. In 1971, O'Toole and director Peter Medak filmed their dream project, with a virtual who's who of English stage actors. Though United Artists were the original distributors, “The Ruling Class'” length proved to be a major problem for the company. Avco Embassy ultimately released the film, and without the intended intermission break, the two and a half hour film went on to become a cult classic.

Criterion's DVD presents the film with a very clean transfer, though a few darker sequences - an attic soliloquy and the film's final music number - contain visible grain that's been smoothened a little with some digital noise reduction. The mono soundtrack contains obvious distortion during a few of the more clamorous verbal matches, and some of the musical numbers are similarly affected, though overall the soundtrack mix is well-balanced.

The commentary track features the 3 Peters: director Medak, star O'Toole, and writer Barnes. Intercut to form a smooth, narrative flow, Medak recalls the project's genesis and production history, while Barnes provides animated introspection on his writing style, and how “The Ruling Class” deeply reflects his views on the English class system, the Church, and upper class politics. O'Toole's voice, on the other hand, immediately evokes a sense of joy, and he doesn't disappoint us with his own take on the film's production history, including a delightful explanation of ‘the sitting game.'

Director Medak's own 16mm silent home movies offer some interesting behind the scenes shots of key sequences (particularly the finale), though the lack of sound drastically slows down the pacing, and much of the footage becomes very repetitive. Still, through osmosis we get a sense of the kind of production it was and a peek behind-the-scenes that we otherwise wouldn't see.

Medak's stills are a mix of production and a few personal shots, and the lengthy gallery ends with a few amusing snapshots in Cannes, with the film's key stars, and co-producer Jack Hawkins.

The supplied trailer, more of a teaser, reveals how the distributor had no idea how to market the film, though word of mouth and positive reviews helped the film enjoy a year run in England.


© 2001 Mark R. Hasan

_IMDB Entry________Script Online _________Fan/Official Film site________Cast/Crew Link
_IMDB Detailed Entry_______Scripts available online ________Fan/Official Film Site__________Additional Related Sites
____Amazon.com __________Amazon.ca _________Bay Street Video_______Comparisons_
__Amazon.com info____Amazon.com info____Basy Street Video info______Compare Different Region releases_
_Soundtrack CD / LP_______CD Review__________LP Review__________Composer Filmog.
Soundtrack Album_________Soundtrack Review_______Yes, VINYL_________Composer Filmography/Discography at Soundtrack Collector.com

Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author. Links to non-KQEK sites have been included for your convenience; KQEK is not responsible for their content nor their possible use of any pop-ups, cookies, or information gathering.