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Sunday, June 25th, 2017 11:52 am
I think it was 1971 when me and my brother went to the movies for a double billing: "M*A*S*H" and "Patton". I'm dating myself when I state we were in high school. Before the movie's start there was a trailer for a movie that stuck with me for decades: The Ruling Class.

This British romp starting Peter O'Toole was a drama, a dark comedy and a musical. Briefly, the 13th Earl of Gurney dies and his sole heir believes he's Jesus Christ. The trailer toys with the audience and at several points the audience is left wondering if the mad 14th Earl really is god.

And I said to myself, 'I have to see this movie.'

Every once in a while I'd go looking for the movie on TV and later in the video rental stores, but as the years past I never found it.

Enter the Internet.

It'd been a while since I remembered that trailer and knowing that movies sometimes end up on You Tube I searched for it... and found it. Hello, download to USB stick and plugged it into my Xbox 360.

After watching it I can see why it never really made it across the pond. The movie is languid in it's story telling, opening with the 13rd Earl, his powerful position, his massive hulk of a manor, his snobbish family, his nearly robot manservant, and the fact that he is a few gears short a wristwatch. He dies in a rather embarrassing - and nearly predictable - manner leaving the sole heir the 14th Earl. The heir is *certified* insane believing he is Jesus Christ.

The more 'normal' (i.e. power hungry and sex hungry) members of the family plot to have him permanently committed. Mayhem, music, dance and behind the scenes sex happens. It's a very strong poke at the English nobility and there's plenty of jokes to go around until the end when the movie goes dark.

I know I missed some of the jokes because it's a very British movie, but I caught a lot of the main ones. The British nobility was well skewered during the movie. The message that the madness of those in power get excused and overlooked while everyone else must live in fear and terror resonates to this day.

It was a long wait to see the movie and it wasn't quite as funny as the trailer showed it to be. It was engaging without explosions and special effects.

One final note, the file I got from You Tube did show some occasional dirt marks and scratches you'd get from a copy from an analog original. It also ended with color bars so I wonder if it wasn't lifted from a broadcast station at some point.

-m

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