Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

 

Kind Hearts and Coronets Movie Poster with the stars names, paintings of the characters with the words "A hilarious study in the gentle art of murder"

Kind Hearts and Coronets © Eagle-Lion Films

Director:Robert Hamer

Writers: Robert Hamer

Starring: Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood, Hugh Griffith

Production Company:  Ealing Studios, Michael Balcon Productions

Kent Locations: Leeds Castle, Harrietsham, Boughton Monchelsea

Kind Hearts and Coronets is based on the novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman which tells the story of Louis Mazzini, an aristocrat descendent  who sets out to murder eight D’Ascoynes family heirs in order to become the Duke.

The film has become a timeless classic, being regarded as one of best British films of all time. It has been included in both Time magazine and the BFI top 100 British films of all time.

Eight of the D’Ascoynes, are played by the legendary Alec Guiness who are one by one they are murdered in a variety of ways from poisoning to drowning and even exploding.

Leeds Castle doubled as Chalfont Castle, the D’Ascoynes family home. Located on the outskirts of Maidstone,  Leeds Castle was built as a Norman stronghold and became the home of royalty, including Henry VIII when he visited Kent. Surrounded by a mote and 500 acres of gardens, the Castle became a monument to the Tudor era and a popular tourist destination.  It has previously been used for productions such as The Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain (2009) and Lady Jane (1987).

The film also shot outside The Cock Inn pub in Boughton Monchelsea village for the scene where Louis (Dennis Price) takes photos and meets Henry (Alec Guinness). The village is on the outskirts of Maidstone and contains an array of urban and rural land and historic features including a church built in 1100 and a 16th century manor house.

Harrietsham village was also used for the scene where Louis (Dennis Price) rides around the village. Harrietsham is a  rural village to the east of Maidstone and  has many Grade I listed buildings including The Old House and Saxon Church of St John the Baptist.  

Kind Hearts and Coronets was released in 1969 and is now available on DVD.

Links

For more information about filming in Kent contact: filmoffice@kent.gov.uk

For more information about Leeds Castle: http://www.leeds-castle.com/home

For more information about Maidstone: http://www.visitmaidstone.com/   

For more information about the film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041546/

MMFor more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map: https://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/kent-movie-map/moviemap-live-2/


Great Expectations (1946)

Great Expectations Abel Magwitch grabbing a young Pip by the neck at a graveyard

Great Expectations

Directed By: David Lean

Written By: Charles Dickens (Novel) & David Lean (Adaptation)

Starring: John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Tony Wager, Bernard Miles and Martita Hunt

Production Company: Cineguild, National Symphony Orchestra

Kent Locations Used: St Mary’s Marshes, The River Medway

Great Expectations was the first of David Lean’s two adaptations of Dickens’ classic novels (Oliver Twist followed in 1948).  The film tells the story of young Pip (Tony Wager), a good natured orphan, who lives with kind blacksmith Joe Gargery (Bernard Miles) and his often abusive wife “Mrs. Joe”. Whilst visiting the graves of his deceased parents he meets an escaped convict named Abel Magwitch. In fear for his life Pip agrees to get the man some food before he is discovered and captured again.

Pip’s fortunes appear to change with the arrival of Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt) in his life. A tragic recluse, Miss Havisham lives in one room in her large house surrounded by memorabilia from her ill-fated wedding. Inviting Pip to her home to amuse her, she encourages her spiteful daughter Estella to break his heart. Eventually Pip (John Mills) attracts the attention of a mysterious benefactor who  pays for him to travel to London and learn to be a gentleman in the hope of him achieving his “great expectations”.

Restoration House in Rochester was Dicken’s inspiration for“Satis House”, the decaying mansion of Miss Havisham. Faithful to Dicken’s, the production carefully reproduced Restoration House in Denham Sudios in Buckinghamshire. Restoration House is the amalgamation of two medieval buildings that were combined in the 16th or 17th century. A Grade 1 listed building, it is rumoured that Charles II stayed there the night before he was restored to the throne, thus giving the building its name.

The River Medway and the adjacent St Mary’s Marshes appear in scenes where Pip and his friend, Herbert Pocket, row their boat to a small inn whilst waiting for the Paddlesteamer to arrive. Their boat later crashes into the Paddlesteamer in one of the most dramatic scenes in the film. The Paddlesteamer used in the film is called the The Empress which was owned by Weymouth Company Cosens & Co and brought down to Kent especially for the shoot. It is often confused with the Kent based “Kingswear Castle” Paddlesteamer that featured in the BBC 1999 drama of Great Expectations and the 1998 drama of Our Mutual Friend. The Kingswear Castle is still in use today and offers members of the public tours along the river starting at its base at The Historic Dockyard in Chatham.

Sheila Townsend’s Grandad, Jimmy Ennew, was a freeman of the river Medway and rented his row boat ‘The Ivy’ to the production team for filming.  Sheila was 14yrs old at the time and remembers the excitement of sitting on the pier watching the filming.

Although the film features several important Kent locations, the novel on which the adaptation was based showcases many more. The church where Pip visits the graves of his deceased parents and has his first terrifying encounter with Magwitch was based on St James’ Church in Cooling. In the novel, Dickens mentions 5 lozenge shaped graves where Pip’s brothers were buried. It is believed that he was inspired by the 13 graves of the same shape within the church graveyard.

The tranquil park behind Rochester Cathedral, once a vineyard planted by monks from St Andrews Priory, is a convenient route for modern day tourists visiting the Cathedral to visit Restoration House in Crow Lane. In Dickens’ time the location was an open space and in his Great Expectations novel he chose it to form the last part of Pip’s regular route to visit Miss Havisham and Estella. Dickens based the character of Miss Havisham on an old woman who was his neighbour at his childhood home of Number 2 (now number 11) Ordnance Terrace in Chatham.

Great Expectations was released in 1946 and is available on DVD.

Links

For more information on filming in Kent please contact: filmoffice@kent.gov.uk

For more information on the film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038574/?ref_=nv_sr_4

For more information on Restoration House: http://www.restorationhouse.co.uk/

For more information on the River Medway: http://www.visitmedway.org

MMFor more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map: https://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/kent-movie-map/moviemap-live-2/


Contraband (1940)

Contraband Film Poster

Contraband Film Poster © British National Films

Director: Michael Powell

Writers: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell

Starring: Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Hay Petrie

Production Company: British National Films

Kent Filming Locations: Ramsgate

Set in early World War II, Contraband is about a Danish sea captain, delayed in a British port when a blackout occurs. The darkness brings chaos with smugglers and spies wanting to take advantage and the captain is forced to participate in a game of cat and mouse through the dark streets of London looking for important papers that belong to the ship. However, he discovers something a lot bigger than a few thieves trying to make a quick profit.

Directed by Michael Powell (Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp), the film stars Conrad Veidt (Nazi Agent, Casablanca, Above Suspicion), Valerie Hobson (The Voice of Merrill, Background, Knave of Hearts) and Hay Petrie (Noose, The Monkey’s Paw, The Queen of Spades).

Ramsgate, particularly the harbour and railway station doubled as the fictional town Eastgate-on-Sea in the film.

Situated in East Kent, Ramsgate is a beautiful coastal town, home to the Port of Ramsgate, the only Royal Harbour Marina in the country. The area also boasts a beach, amusements, arcades, shops, restaurants and a theatre. Ramsgate has been used as a film location for Eastenders (2015), Big Bad World (2013) and Johnny English Reborn (2011).

Contraband is available to purchase on DVD.

Links:

For more information about filming in Kent please contact: filmoffice@kent.gov.uk

For more information about the film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032356/

For more information about Thanet: http://www.visitthanet.co.uk/destinations/ramsgate/10539?microSiteId=210

MMFor more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map: https://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/kent-movie-map/moviemap-live-2/