A huge thank you to Ki Arnould for this post!!
Like most folks who grew up after the baby boomers, I have difficulty finding the appeal
in black and white films. A lot of them feel old, outdated, and ring hollow in a culture
that favors colorful extremes over shades of gray. But there are a few grayscale classics
that should not be missed, and this is absolutely one of them.
Meet Louis Mazzini, the lead character in the 1949 gem “Noblesse Oblige (Aka Kind Hearts And Coronets).” He’s bright and ambitious. He’s whip-smart and totally genteel. He’s also plotting to destroy the line of heirs that stand between him and a dukedom, and he’s not afraid to get
a little shady.
But his acts are easily justified; the plot began as an act of vengeance on behalf of his
mother, who died penniless and alone when she was disowned for marrying an unsuitable
man. And if revenge is a dish best served cold, this guy’s kitchen is sub-zero. While
Louis is charming and charismatic, he is also calculating and manipulative, capable of
carrying on polite conversation with distant relatives even as he plots their untimely
If Louis’s cold-hearted ambition doesn’t give you chills, maybe the supporting cast
will. In addition to two mid-century dames who tug (with partial success) on Louis’s
heartstrings, you’ll also enjoy the talents of Alec Guiness (or as we all know him, Obi
Wan Kenobi). Nearly thirty years before performing the Jedi mind trick, he played eight
distinct characters (male and female alike) in this quirky classic.
And come on, didn’t you always wonder what Obi Wan looked like in drag?
“Kind Hearts and Coronets” may be a grayscale film, but that’s the perfect spectrum for
a film where, despite all odds, you find yourself rooting for the bad guy. This subtle,
chilling, dark comedy will remind you just how much you love those cinematic shades of
*Unfortunately, the trailer for this couldn’t be embedded but the link is below!*
Ki Arnould is a sometimes-teacher, begrudging barista, scatter-brained writer, and
pop culture researcher with a penchant for film, fandom, and white chocolate toffee
cookies (not necessarily in that order).