Splitting Heirs

Splitting Heirs is a 1993 British black comedy film directed by Robert Young and starring Eric Idle, Rick Moranis, Barbara Hershey, Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Cleese and Sadie Frost. It features music by Michael Kamen. It was entered in the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

Splitting Heirs
Theatrical release poster.
Directed byRobert Young
Produced bySimon Bosanquet
Redmond Morris
Written byEric Idle
Music byMichael Kamen
CinematographyTony Pierce-Roberts
Edited byJohn Jympson
Prominent Features
Distributed byUIP (UK/International)
Universal Pictures (US/Canada)
Release date
  • 2 April 1993 (1993-04-02) (UK)
  • 30 April 1993 (1993-04-30) (US)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$3,246,063 (US)[1]


The film centers on the aristocratic family of the Dukes of Bournemouth (England), upon which misfortune has fallen throughout history, leading its members to believe the family is cursed. The most recent heir, Thomas Henry Butterfly Rainbow Peace, was left in a restaurant as an infant in the 1960s; by the time his parents remembered him, he had disappeared. Meanwhile, in the 1990s Tommy Patel has grown up in an Asian/Indian family in Southall, never doubting his ethnicity despite being taller than anyone else in the house, fair-haired, blue-eyed, light-skinned—and not liking curry. From the family corner shop he commutes to the City where he works for the Bournemouth family's stockbroking firm, handling multimillion-pound deals.

Tommy is given the job of acting as host to the visiting American representative of the firm, Henry Bullock, who turns out to be the son of the head of the firm, the present Duke. They become friends and the friendship survives Henry becoming the new Duke when his father dies. Circumstantial evidence shows that the true Bournemouth heir is actually Tommy; we see a series of family portraits each of which captures something of Tommy's facial characteristics, and his Indian mother tells him the story of his adoption. He consults the lawyer who dealt with his adoption, Raoul P. Shadgrind, who says Tommy has no hope of proving his claim, but plants the idea of him obtaining his rightful place in the family by getting Henry out of the way; Shadgrind himself then engineers a variety of 'accidents' in the belief that he will share in the spoils as Tommy's partner. The delightfully-complicated love interest comes with Tommy's and Henry's (shared at the same time) lover, later the new Duchess and their (shared at different times) mother, the dowager Duchess. As befits a classical comedy of errors, the final resolution of everyone's doubts and misconceptions leaves everyone living "happily ever after - "well, for a bit, at least..."



The film received mostly negative reviews and currently has a score of 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Box office

The film performed poorly.[9]

Video release

The film has been released on VHS in the United States and Britain. A Region 1 DVD has been released in the United States, and a Nordic edition Region 2 DVD was released in 2010.[10]


  1. Splitting Heirs at Box Office Mojo
  2. "Festival de Cannes: Splitting Heirs". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
  3. "Splitting Heirs". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  4. Ebert, Roger (30 April 1993). "Splitting Heirs Movie Review & Film Summary (1993)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  5. "`Splitting Heirs' Has An Air Of Desperation About It - Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. 30 April 1993. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  6. Chris Hicks (9 May 1993). "Film review: Splitting Heirs". Deseret News. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  7. "MOVIE REVIEW : Idle's 'Splitting Heirs' Is Funny Despite Its Limits - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 1 May 1993. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  8. Canby, Vincent (1 May 1993). "Movie Review - Splitting Heirs - Review/Film; Trying to Kill One's Way To a Title - NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  9. "Weekend Box Office : 'Proposal' Still Doing Indecent Business". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  10. http://cdon.no/film/en_arving_for_mye-11717151
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