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Ladykillers
     

The Ladykillers

4.5 2
Director: Alexander MacKendrick, Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom

Cast: Alexander MacKendrick, Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom

 

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Music professor Alec Guinness rents a London flat from sweet old lady Katie Johnson. He tells her that, from time to time, several other musicians will visit in order to rehearse. In truth, Guinness can't play a note, nor can his visitors: he's a criminal mastermind, holding court over a gang of thieves, including the likes of punkish Peter Sellers, homicidal Herbert

Overview

Music professor Alec Guinness rents a London flat from sweet old lady Katie Johnson. He tells her that, from time to time, several other musicians will visit in order to rehearse. In truth, Guinness can't play a note, nor can his visitors: he's a criminal mastermind, holding court over a gang of thieves, including the likes of punkish Peter Sellers, homicidal Herbert Lom and punchdrunk Danny Green. The gang uses Guinness' flat as headquarters as they conceive a daring 60,000 pound robbery. After pulling off the job, the gang stuffs the loot in a railway station locker. To avoid detection, Guinness convinces the ever-trusting Johnson to pick up the money. Through a series of comic complications, Johnson returns home with a police escort, with neither the woman nor the bobbies suspecting that she's carrying a fortune in her suitcase. Mistakenly believing that Johnson has ratted on them, the gang reluctantly plans to eliminate her. The Ladykillers won an Oscar nomination for William Rose's screenplay, and a BFA award for veteran character actress Johnson.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
Forever Ealing, a lovely documentary about Great Britain's famed studio, saves for last in its chronology the best of all Ealing comedies, this bonbon with a very dark, hard center. It is almost impossible to find fault with any aspect of this film, from its opening shot of Mrs. Wilberforce's house at the dead end of a city street overlooking a train yard to the same closing shot. William Rose's script economically sketches the slightly lopsided world of a little old lady seemingly oblivious to anything complex or sophisticated, as Mrs. Wilberforce makes her way through her neighborhood to the police station, where her visits to report strange activities are quite well-known. Rose takes us quickly through the heist, and at the film's halfway point, the story turns on the discovery by Mrs. W. of the money inside the cello case. For all their bravado, however, the gang of robbers who would menace her are nearly as harmless as their intended victim. None of them relish the idea that Mrs. W. cannot live to report them to the police. They would do anything -- even turn on each other -- rather than bump off the only person who can finger them. Alexander Mackendrick's direction is remarkably restrained; the slapstick moments are believably set up and executed with finesse. Nothing feels frantic here, right down to the amazing choreography of bodies falling off the railroad bridge in the last act. Alec Guinness, playing a man who understands all too well how the "human element" is the only variable in any master plan, and Katie Johnson, as a woman who is both sweet and determined, both carry the film; the looks that pass between Prof. Marcus and Mrs. Wilberforce when she realizes the truth about him and his friends are eloquent beyond description. Peter Sellers fans may be disappointed that he's not given more to do here, though it is amusing to watch him and Herbert Lom, future adversarial colleagues in the Pink Panther comedies, working together.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/16/2010
UPC:
0012236107828
Original Release:
1955
Rating:
NR
Source:
Lions Gate
Region Code:
AB
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound]
Time:
1:32:00
Sales rank:
32,642

Special Features

Introduction by Terry Gilliam; Filmed interviews with Allan Scott, Terence Davies and Ronald Harwood; Audio commentary with ealing expert Phil Kemp; "Forever Ealing" documentary; "Cleaning up The Ladykillers"; Interview with James Mangold ; Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alec Guinness Professor Marcus
Cecil Parker Maj. Courteney
Herbert Lom Louis Harvey
Peter Sellers Harry Robinson
Katie Johnson Mrs. Louisa Alexandra Wilberforce
Danny Green One-Round
Jack Warner Police Superintendent
Frankie Howerd Barrow Boy
Philip Stainton Sergeant
Fred Griffiths Junk Man
Kenneth Connor The Cab Driver
Madge Brindley Actor
Helen Burls Hypatia
Harold Goodwin Parcels Clerk
Lucy Griffiths Actor
Stratford Johns Security Guard
Sam Kydd Actor
Robert Moore Actor
Ewan Roberts Constable
George Roderick Actor
Leonard Sharp Pavement Artist
Neil Wilson Actor
Michael Corcoran Actor
John Rudling Actor
Edie Martin Lettice
Jack Melford Detective

Technical Credits
Alexander MacKendrick Director
Michael Balcon Producer
Tristram Cary Score Composer
Alex Garfath Makeup
Jack Harris Editor
Otto Heller Cinematographer
Seth Holt Associate Producer
Dock Mathieson Musical Direction/Supervision
Anthony Mendleson Costumes/Costume Designer
Jim Morahan Art Director
Syd Pearson Special Effects
Tom Pevsner Asst. Director
William Rose Original Story,Screenwriter
Chic Waterson Camera Operator

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The Ladykillers 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The twists in this crime story are exactly what make it a comedy. This comedy is not as subtle as other British comedies of the era, but that just might make it more appealing to a larger audience. Even if you're not an Alec Guinness fan, you would enjoy this movie because it's the naivete of the little old lady that makes it resonate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago