The Ruling Class

Peter Barnes' adaptation of his own play takes as its targets British chauvinism, British institutions, the sadistic education system, and the sexual perversion and social misery it feeds off. Loosely the plot covers the death of the old Earl of Gurney (Andrews) during one of his masochistic evening rituals, and the accession to the title of his insane son (O'Toole), who believes he is God but eventually switches to Jack the Ripper. This is buried beneath a load of old jokes, song'n'dance routines, bad jokes, physical obsessions, random send-ups. A very long two and a half hours does throw up some good performances and a few memorable images; otherwise the latent and overt ideas are fleshed out all too obviously.

Release details

Duration: 155 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Peter Medak
Screenwriter: Peter Barnes
Cast: Peter O'Toole
Alastair Sim
Arthur Lowe
Harry Andrews
Coral Browne
Michael Bryant
Nigel Green
William Mervyn
James Villiers
Hugh Burden
Carolyn Seymour
Graham Crowden
Kay Walsh
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