The Ruling Class

What would you do if the heir to your potential fortune thinks he is Jesus? Literally he believes that he is Jesus Christ incarnate and he goes around with his own personal cross and has long hair and shit. Then think there is more than just a fortune, but a title and a respected place in the House of Lords in England. Would you try to marry him off, make them produce an heir and then send him off to the loony bin so you could have access to the fortune, mold the son to live up to the name and stand as steward for the man who is sadly cooky? Well if you said yes than you should search your soul and take some advice from this film. Because it all goes awry I tell you. It goes awry so quickly and so oddly that you would think this film was not real… Sadly it is not.

Peter O’Toole plays the delusional Jesus Christ heir in this silly and cheesy musical (?) comedy film. He bounces around proclaiming that he can lift tables, know what people are thinking and that he has a beloved named Marguerite. All of this is false as proclaimed by the doctor who had been caring for him for the last eight years. The doctor believes that Jack (O’Toole) can be cured, but his family members think otherwise. They find a woman who is conniving enough to want the title and stick her into a pure dress and have her sing an aria. They get married quickly and she gets pregnant just as quickly. While she is pregnant, the doctor thinks of a treatment that would snap Jack out of his delusions. This is where the man with the thunderbolts jut out of his fingers comes in. They perform a type of excision and Jack goes back to being Jack…. at least that is what everybody thinks.

Campy and witty this film is an easy way to waste an afternoon or while you are bored at work (which is where I watched it.) Although the second half drags as the action gets darker, there are still points in there that can make you laugh or smirk. I don’t think I connected with it in the way that was intended and maybe it doesn’t have as much resonance with a young American girl in the two thousands as it would have if I was a woman in British society in the late sixties and early seventies, but I still had a good time. The musical numbers sort of come out of nowhere and only a few stick out as being well done, but again it didn’t diminish the whole film for me. I’m sorry I don’t have much to say about it other than Alastair Sim is pretty awesome. And you should watch it for him alone. He is so snively and crotchety. That is the way I like my Alastair Sim.


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