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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 13. June 29, 1950

Kind Hearts and Coronets

Kind Hearts and Coronets

It was posibly a pity that I had seen M. Verdoux at all. This film might have been vastly more entertaining if the theme weren't so almost familiar. And maybe, even if I had seen the other, I shouldn't have noticed the resemblance If the director hadn't flagrantly cribbed the scene where the murderer watches, from the garden, the smoke rising which denotea another victim's demise. Odd echoes of other films were there also—the admiral went down below the surface and left but his cap, which floated away on the waves. But so did the golfer's cap in "Dead of Night." However, I guess that so many are liable to look [unclear: plagiaristic] when they are not that it's hard to Judge.

But let's worry about these. The film is rather good is it is.

There didn't seem to be any good reason why Alec Guiness should have had all those parts, unless it were part of an economy drive, or because that man now has a reputation for being in disguise. Apart from this criticism, the film makes good entertainment. The theme is extremely well worked out. This is one film, in fact, where the technique of flash backs makes sense—and that's saying a great deal. The humour throughout (or wit, perhaps, it being rather too diamond-hard and sharp for humour) is really good. One can imagine quite clearly why the murderer becomes so; the motive is quite clearly established, in the words of the stock detective novel. And in the same words, we see the method only too well—all the methods, in fact. There are lapses in the love scenes, maybe, but they are usually made up for by an extra dose of dry wit later on. Maybe, too, it doesn't bring out as well as Chaplin's the feeling that the murderer is after all but the application of business morals to the conventions of death—but there is enough comment left to justify the entertainment. If the moral is slim.

Best crack—the murderer consoling himself when he causes his first victim (on a weekend at a country hotel with his amour) to be drowned while in a passionate embrace, with the thought that he can't really regret the death of the girl too because, already during the weekend "she must, several times, have met a fate worse them death."