Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) should be heir to a dukedom but his family, the snobbish D'Ascoynes, have cut Louis off because his mother married badly. Vengeful and hate-filled, he sets out to regain his rightful place by killing everyone in the way.
Everyone in the way is played by Alec Guinness. All of them. He's every member of the D'Ascoyne family and while each role is quite small, Guinness makes them all memorable. He's helped by Dennis Price's Louis devising increasingly wild ways with each of Guinness' deaths being a fresh and horribly funny thrill.
It's a treat to have a comedy as involving as a drama. You care about Louis and his cause even though it's a tale of class differences that was dated even on release (made in 1949, it's set around 1900). Louis should be hateful: he's one of the cinema's first serial killers. But as would not happen for another 50 years until "The Talented Mr Ripley", "Kind Hearts and Coronets" is a film where you want the murderer to escape.
When some of Alec Guinness' obituaries focused on his "Star Wars" cameo rather than films like this, it seemed there could be no greater injustice. But there is. While it is not yet in production, there are strong plans for a remake of "Kind Hearts and Coronets", with Will Smith taking the Dennis Price role and Robin Williams in the Guinness roles. Please, no.
Read a review of the DVD.