Sang doesn’t come much more froid than in Ealing Studios’ tartest and perhaps most sophisticated achievement: ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ is at once a witty comedy of manners, a grotesque serial-killer caper and an acerbic satire on the class system. Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price), scion of the D’Ascoyne clan by blood but denied his ducal due on account of his mother’s marriage to an Italian commoner, sets out to murder his way to the title he considers his birthright. His targets – all eight of them – are played by Alec Guinness in a succession of beautifully wrought miniature turns, from bibulous cleric to strident suffragette. But it’s Price who holds the piece together, endowing Louis with a feline mix of charm, taste and ruthlessness that anticipates Tom Ripley and Hannibal Lecter; as in their stories, the general ghastliness of everyone else makes it all the easier to root for his success. Credit is also due to Robert Hamer for his elegant direction and a screenplay (adapted from Roy Horniman’s novel) that is lean, sprightly and bristling with thorns.