"Don't Take It to Heart" has a very good plot, an excellent screenplay with very clever dialog, and wonderful acting by all. It is part of the British Classics Collection on DVD. It's well deserving of that distinction because this is a very funny, very warm, and very enjoyable comedy and satire.
The setting for the film is early in World War II when Germany was bombing Great Britain. A bomb dropped on Chaunduyt (pronounced "condit") Castle releases the ghost of a 400-year-old Earl who had been walled up by his wife. The ghost will have a key part to play in his short film time. He will resolve the big issue of the story with an unusual and very funny ending.
This film pokes fun at the landed gentry and nobility systems of England, and also takes jabs at the legal profession and court system. It's also an early movie look at the demise of the historic British estates. As the titled class began to lose fealty lands to their communities, the sources of income and support for the large estates and their occupants dried up. So, those of the nobility who didn't have investment income or ownership in large enterprises, were reduced to selling off property, art works and family treasures. Some then began opening their estates to the public for tours as a way to collect fees and stay afloat.
Most of the cast won't be known outside Great Britain, and even two decades into the 21st century, only those Brits who are film buffs are likely to know any of the cast. But they were some very good actors of the day and all give superb performances in this film.
Brefni O'Rorke plays Lord Charles Chaunduyt, whose family are the current occupants of the castle. He is a most likeable master of "Condit." Richard Greene plays lawyer Peter Hayward who has come to the town to examine the 400-year-old manuscripts that were unearthed in the bombings. The community is extensively intermarried, and many have the same surname. The kicker though - and source of a great deal of the humor throughout the film - is that there are class differences within the family name. And, each has a distinct pronunciation of their name.
Condit (Chaunduyt) is the home of the Buckets. The common folk pronounce their name as it's spelled, like a pail. But the nobility, including the family of Chaunduyt Castle, pronounce their name like the bunch of flowers or an aroma, with low vowels, "boo-kay." It is later revealed that there was a French connection in the past, and that name was pronounced 'boo-ket."
The film has a nice bit of romance, in a subdued way, that also lends more humor. Patricia Medina plays Mary, the daughter of Lord Charles. She is a modern socialist who disdains the titles system. Another key person whose presence connects scenes and parts of the story is the butler, Alfred Bucket. Edward Rigby is superb as Bucket. He and his predecessors have served the "Boo-kays" of Condit Caste for decades. Other key characters are the brother of Lord Charles, Arthur "Boo-kay" and his wife, Harriet. Richard Bird has double roles as Arthur and as the ghost - his 400-year-old look alike ancestor.
Joyce Barbour plays Aunt Harriet. She is the big flaunter of the titled nobility and gentry. She insists that her niece, Mary, has a traditional "Tenants Ball" for her coming of age. The main local character is Harry Bucket, played by Wylie Watson. He has been known to catch a rabbit or two on Condit castle grounds, and has been suspected of poaching hares on same. Alfred Drayton plays Mr. Pike, a grouchy member of the landed gentry (those with money but no title) who wants to keep the common folk in their place. Joan Hickson is one of the cast who is most likely to be remembered. She is a young Mrs. Pike in this film. Several other supporting actors of the day give top performances and contribute to the comedy in this wonderful film.
The dialog varies from witty lines, to subtle spoofs, to clever orations, to directly funny retorts. Other comedy is in visuals with humorous scenes or funny antics by one or more characters. I highly recommend this outstanding British comedy. Here are some favorite lines from the film. For more dialog, see the Quotes section under this IMDb page of the movie.
Smith, "Your driving is absolutely scandalous." Bus-Driver, "Thank you. It is nothing". Smith, stepping off the bus, "He's a refugee - French." Mrs. Smith, "Well, there you are."
Pike, "So that youngster's your nephew, eh?" Butler Bucket, "No, sir. He's my uncle."
Pike, " It isn't a question of rabbits. This was a hare, and that's game."
Peter Hayward, "You're Lady Mary!" Mary, "Yes, I know."
Lord Charles Chaunduyt, "Besides, he's in the Army now." Harriet, "You say that as if the Army were a monastery. From what I hear, it's not at all the same thing."
Harriet, "Bucket, who's that young man in the garden?" Butler Bucket, "That's a professor, ma'am. He's working on the old manuscripts." Harriet, "Hmmm. At the moment he seems to be working on my niece."
Mary, "Do you always tell the truth?" Peter Hayward, "Mary, you forget. I'm a lawyer."
Mary, "I object to your talking like that about my... my fiancé. Besides, he's not a moron. He's a corporal."
Harriet, "Did Mr. Hayward say where he was wounded?" Arthur, "Dunkirk, I think." Harriet, "That wasn't what I meant."
Harriet, "Charles, tell me at once. Who am I? Or what am I?" Lord Charles, "Well, my dear Harriet, for the moment you're one of the old 'Bouquets.' But it rather looks as though very shortly, you'll be just an old 'Bucket.'"