Ladykillers

The Ladykillers

4.5 2
Director: Alexander MacKendrick

Cast: Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom

     
 

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This is a fine little home video edition of a classic British comedy that hasn't been treated overly well on high-end video up until now -- indeed, it was available on a very expensive laserdisc for all of about a one season back in the late 1980's and then disappeared. It hasn't been treated to a restoration on the level of, say, Singin' In The Rain or other

Overview

This is a fine little home video edition of a classic British comedy that hasn't been treated overly well on high-end video up until now -- indeed, it was available on a very expensive laserdisc for all of about a one season back in the late 1980's and then disappeared. It hasn't been treated to a restoration on the level of, say, Singin' In The Rain or other Hollywood classics of the period, but apart from a few faded exterior shots that pass quickly, the image on this DVD glows and sparkles, in rich depth of color and detail. The disc opens with a menu that, although clever, is a little difficult to maneuver around and select from -- it includes the original trailer and the same Alec Guinness bio that appears on other discs in this series. The trailer, which runs a full two-and-a-half minutes, looks as good as the movie, and the latter is generally a delight to the eye; the 1.66-to-1 aspect ratio of the transfer (matched by the trailer) makes this the first video presentation of the movie in its theatrical configuration. The audio is mastered at a decent volume that requires just a small boost, and the 24 chapters are more than adequate as an outline of the movie. As an added bonus, the disc comes with a booklet containing a superb essay by Rand Vossler, dealing with the history of Ealing Studios and the career of producer Michael Balcon, a figure largely forgotten outside the circle of British film historians. It's all a bargain, especially as the presentation of British pictures such as The Ladykillers has just about disappeared from the airwaves and most cable television since the mid-1990's.

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:
09/10/2002
UPC:
0013131147490
Original Release:
1955
Rating:
NR
Source:
Starz / Anchor Bay
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Mono]
Time:
1:31:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; Widescreen presentation; Theatrical trailer; Alec Guinness bio; English and French language track

Related Subjects

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

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Program Start/Main Titles [1:47]
2. Mrs. Wilberforce [3:23]
3. The Mysterious Professor Marcus [5:06]
4. The Gang's All Here [4:02]
5. A Spot of Tea [3:48]
6. Bloody Nuisance [7:12]
7. The Heist [4:00]
8. All Aboard [2:58]
9. Pulling the Strings [2:46]
10. Horse and Buggy [3:01]
11. The Waiting Game [3:42]
12. Fond Farewells [3:29]
13. Suspicion [6:05]
14. Command Performance [5:11]
15. A Visit From the Police [3:51]
16. The Ladykillers [3:53]
17. A Spark of Decency [4:21]
18. Rooftop Accident [2:44]
19. Alliances [3:18]
20. Double-Cross [3:33]
21. Another Black Mark [2:44]
22. "Who Looks Stupid Now?" [2:45]
23. And Then There Were None [3:39]
24. Mrs. Wilberforce's Windfall [3:04]

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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