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KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS--Dennis Price


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One problem I sometimes have with British films is my inability to pick up all the dialogue uttered with some British accents. I have a particular problem understanding some of what Dennis Price is saying in KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS. Anyone else have this problem, or is it unique to me?

 

Edited by: finance on Nov 10, 2010 10:08 AM

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I usually have little trouble understanding English accents, especially of the kind used in *Kind Hearts and Coronets*, because that film featured "upper class" characters, whose diction is exceptionally clear. My problem is with very thick Cockney or Scottish accents. Or Yorkshire accents -sometimes sounds almost like another language.

 

*Kind Hearts and Coronets* is one of those wonderful British comedies produced in the 50s (ok, some in the very late 40s) by Ealing Studios. I love Alec Guinness' bravura performance(s). And Dennis Price as the conscienceless frustrated would-be heir, striving to contain his impatience with the various aristocratic relatives he meets, is equally enjoyable. Now that's my idea of a good comedy - no comparison to rubbish like *A Millionaire for Christy* or *Kiss Me Stupid*. (But I'm being unfair, because there are many great American comedies that are hilarious and smart. )

 

Anyway, to return to your comment, I find the dialogue in this film completely comprehensible. (Maybe you're distracted by Joan Greenwood's throaty purring voice.)

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*Or Yorkshire accents -sometimes sounds almost like another language.*

As Melvyn Douglas says in commenting on Karloff's growled response at the door... "Even Welsh ought not sound like that."

My problem, too, tends to be with regional accents. While I got the gist of what was going on in THE FULL MONTY, for instance, there were sections of dialogue that were unintelligible to my ears. The upper-crust Brit accents don't pose the same problem, but there are some colloquial expressions or phrases that I haven't a clue as to meaning. Can't recall any problem with KH&C...

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Wouldn't, e.g., Rex Harrison be considered to have an upper-crust British accent? I have no trouble understanding Harrison, Guinness, Olivier, Richardson, Niven, etc., in ANY role. I don't even have a problem with Caine when he talks Cockney. For some reason, I have a huge problem with Dennis Price in that film, and certain other actors and actresses whom I can't specify offhand

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> {quote:title=misswonderly wrote:}{quote}

> Must have something to do with you guys being American. I rarely have difficulty with it (she said smugly.)

 

 

I am American and I don't usually have any issues with British accents either. ;)

 

Of course I am a big fan of films and programs from over there so maybe I am just used to it.

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I grew up with The Beatles Liverpool accent--which has got to be one of the most difficult in Northern England--

 

But there were parts of *The Full Monty* that I had to turn on the Engish subtitles to understand.

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Fellow Beatles fan here :)

 

I originally had some trouble with Manchester accents when I was watching the BBC series Life on Mars although I think that was the 1970's Northern British slang more than the accent. I got used to it after an episode or so (it's a TV series I highly recommend too).

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As for BBC sitcoms, I think I prefer the incredibly low-brow Are You Being Served, and am reminded of the episode where everybody returns from vacation, with Miss Brahms having taken elocution lessons and totally turning a customer off when she speaks "posh".

 

That, and Yes, Minister.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finace: I've seen the film several times and I've never had any problem understanding Mr.Price, but then again, I grew up among many British/English people, so I never thought much about it perhaps I just grew accustomed to their accents and speech patterns. Best, BruceG.

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}

> One problem I sometimes have with British films is my inability to pick up all the dialogue uttered with some British accents. I have a particular problem understanding some of what Dennis Price is saying in KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS. Anyone else have this problem, or is it unique to me?

>

 

 

 

I think there are two problems involved with not being able to understand British movies.

 

1) regional accents

 

2) unusual words and local slang expressions.

 

I think the slang expressions is the problem with some of Dennis Price?s dialogue. For example, in the photo darkroom sequence, Price and Alec Guinness both use some British photographic terms. I understand them because I studied early British photography years ago.

 

But a lot of the rest of the film is a little difficult to understand, such as some of the conversation about the ?man trap?. I?d never heard of a ?man trap? before, and I think I had to see this film two or three times to understand what they were talking about, since the trap looked like a bear trap. Evidently, a ?man trap? doesn?t snap tightly around the ankle, so as not to break a man?s ankle. It?s used to trap poachers. A poacher is a poor person who goes hunting on a rich man?s property.

 

I had some trouble understanding the lawyer in Great Expectations (1946), since he used old 19th Century British legal terms. Also, I had to see the film several times before I began to understand that Valerie Hobson played both the adult Estella AND Estella?s mother, who was the maid or servant of the lawyer. IMDB doesn?t even list this second role for Hobson.

 

By the way, when someone in a British movie says someone ?has 2,000 a year?, that means they have a steady income of 2,000 pounds a year, usually by means of an inheritance or a steady job. A pound was worth from $5 to $8 US dollars in the past, with the average being about $5. So, an income of 2,000 pounds a year = about $10,000 US dollars. However, keep in mind that a pound and dollar were tied to the current gold prices, and gold was cheap in the 19th Century, so 500 pounds a year = $2,500 dollars, was a lot of money, since it was equal to about 166 ounces of gold. That much gold today is worth about $232,400 US dollars.

 

There are several slang terms for a pound, such as a ?quid? and sometimes a ?nicker?. A British ?penny? was called a penny, while an American penny was called a ?cent?. A ?fiver? is a five pound note (paper money).

 

So, a perfectly understandable sentence in an old British movie can still make no sense if it is filled with slang expressions. And, 19th Century slang expressions are sometimes different from 20th Century slang expressions, and much of British literature is 19th Century literature.

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The conversations between Dennis Price and Joan Greenwood were often quite hot and filled with sex expressions and slang terms. But it takes a few viewings of the film to understand what they are talking about.

 

Near the end, when she is blackmailing him in front of the prison guards, they used a lot of metaphors and slang expressions so that the guards won?t understand what they are talking about. She basically says she will produce a suicide note for her dead husband if Price will marry her and take her into his wealthy estate.

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*I?ve never heard of anyone poaching in a National Park or on a Game Reserve in a British film. They are always poaching on some rich man?s land or on the King?s land or the Queen?s land.*

 

Evidently, a ?man trap? doesn?t snap tightly around the ankle, so as not to break a man?s ankle. It?s used to trap poachers. A poacher is a poor person who goes hunting on a rich man?s property.

 

While the discussion thread is about British films, your statement above seems to imply that this is the definition of poacher, so I added to this definition. furthermore, the British established many of the earliest game reserves in parks while still having colonies in Africa and Asia.

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