The Ruling Class
(Optimum DVD retail)
Olivier Award-winning dramatist Peter Barnes’ adaptation of his own acclaimed play, directed for the screen in 1972 by Hungarian émigré Peter Medak (The Krays, Let Him Have It), was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes and secured another nomination at the Oscars for its lead, Peter O’Toole.
However, looking back at this satirical attack on the British aristocracy – which involves the accidental suicide of a member of the House of Lords and his mad heir, it’s hard to see what all the fuss was about. Despite sporting a great cast of British character actors – Alastair Sim, Arthur Lowe, Harry Andrews and Nigel Green (who committed suicide after the film wrapped) – it’s just a ridiculous irritating romp with a single note of shrill hysteria that never rises above bad pantomime. Minimal extras.