A gang planning a job find themselves living with a little old lady who thinks they are musicians. When the gang set out to kill mrs wilberforce they run into one problem after another and they get what they deserve. Stud... more »io: Starz/sphe Release Date: 11/11/2008 Starring: Alec Guinness Cecil Parker Run time: 91 minutes« less
THIS is a cute movie!
It is a comedy (British humor, but still funny) and has GREAT actors. I absolutely LOVE this film! Forget the new one... this is the first and the best!
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Guinness And Sellers In A Classic Comedy
Reviewer | 01/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A comedy from another place and another time, that right now seems so long ago and far away, "The Ladykillers," directed by Alexander Mackendrick, stars Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom, and stands as a perfect example of how charming, delightful, civilized and yes, "funny," a film can be when approached with intelligence and respect for the audience. Guinness plays Professor Marcus, who puts together a gang to pull off the "perfect" robbery he has concocted. But, as it always is with all things "perfect," it quickly goes awry for the gang, thanks to the involvement of an old lady (Katie Johnson), in whose house Marcus has taken rooms. And as the situation in which the gang finds themselves escalates as they try to put things to rights, the audience is treated to an exemplary piece of truly humorous and memorable cinema. Guinness anchors the farce with a superb characterization (even to altering his appearance with false teeth) of the Professor. It's a prime example of just how great a character actor Guinness was; as in all of his films, he creates a total character of Marcus, inside and out, beginning with the attitude and right on down to the smallest details that many actors would deem insignificant. There is a studied consistency he maintains throughout the film that would stand up to the closest scrutiny; it is not by accident that he is considered by many to be one of greatest actors of our times. And how great to see the youthful Peter Sellers in one of his earliest roles. Watch closely and you can see traces of the unique mannerisms that would mark his career; the slight hesitations, the inward, subtle consideration of the status quo and the sense he conveys in a split second that Murphy's Law is about to go into effect. He makes Harry, a member of the hapless gang, a memorable character. Herbert Lom (as Louis, in this precursor to his pairing with Sellers some twenty years later in the "Pink Panther" movies), Parker (Major Courtney) and Danny Green (One-Round) round out the gang, the likes of which you have never seen before, nor in all probability will ever see again, because-- as the saying goes-- they just don't make `em like this any more. The supporting cast includes Jack Warner (The Superintendent), Philip Stainton (Sergeant), Kenneth Connor (Cab Driver) and Ewan Roberts (Constable). Clever and sophisticated, "The Ladykillers" is a testimony to just how grand and uplifting comedy can be, without resorting to the gross and often unpalatable "humor" upon which so many of today's contemporary comedies seem to depend. Not to say that today's comedies are no good; it's just that they so often lack the esteem and the "humanity"-- not to mention the longevity-- which lends itself to a film such as this one. Movies like this will be around long after most of the addle-brained Saturday Night Live induced fare is gone and forgotten. With the added bonus of having Guinness and Sellers together, this is a true classic in every sense of the word. This is what the magic of the movies is really all about."
Alec Guiness and his gang are no match for Mrs. Wilberforce
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Ladykillers" is regarded as the last of the great Ealing comedies and another macabre black comedy in the style of "Kind Hearts and Coronets." However, I had picked up the film because it had both Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers and was therefore rather surprised that the one doing all the scene stealing is Katie Johnson as Mrs. Wilberforce, a sweet little old lady who makes it a daily practice to go round to the local constable's station each day to keep them apprised on what is happening in the neighborhood. Guinness plays Professor Marcus, a criminal mastermind who plans on duping Mrs. Wilberforce into being an unwitting member of his gang, who are going to rob a armored car. As a cover, he tells the old lady that they are a string quartet, and they play the same record over and over again while they develop their scheme. When Mrs. Wilberforce repeatedly arrives to offer tea, coffee, or any other comfort that comes to mind, the criminals all stand around uncomfortably holding their instruments and try to make small talk. The gang has all of your standard criminal types. Danny Green is the gentle giant, One-Round (a.k.a. Mr. Lawson), Cecily Parker is the old army chap Claude (a.k.a. Major Courtney), Herbert Lom is the cold-hearted killer Louis (a.k.a. Mr. Harvey), and Sellers is the young rouge Harry (a.k.a. Mr. Robinson). However, the ironic point of this 1955 black comedy is that together they are no match for Mrs. Wilberforce. The heist goes off without a hitch, that is to say until Mrs. Wilberforce plays her unwitting role in the proceedings. What follows is like the old Chinese finger torture, where the more things work for the gang the worst off they get as the little old lady thwarts their plans without even trying. Eventually even Mrs. Wilberforce is able to add up things enough to become a liability. Then the criminals make the biggest mistake of all: they draw lots to see who has to do the old lady in. The idea that Guinness, Sellars, and the rest of the gang could be reduced to minor roles by a little old lady is astounding, but that is the precise irony that makes "The Ladykillers" a classic."
Robert Morris | Dallas, Texas | 07/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently purchased The Horse's Mouth (1958) from Amazon as well as "The Alec Guinness Collection" which includes The Ladykillers (1955) plus four others: The Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), and The Captain's Paradise (1953). Frankly, I was amazed how well each of the six films has held up since I first saw it.For me, the most memorable performance in this film is provided by Katie Johnson as Mrs. Louisa Alexandra Wilberforce who rents a flat to Professor Marcus (Guinness) and his companions. The plot such as it is involves their theft of 60,000 pounds and subsequent efforts to remove it from a locker they have rented to store it temporarily. For about half of this film, brilliantly directed by Alexander Mackendrick (who also directed Guinness in The Man in the White Suit, 1951), Mrs. Wilberforce believes that Marcus and his friends are honest citizens and amateur musicians. When she learns that they are thieves, her first concern is not for her personal safety (which is never in doubt, anyway) but to return "the lolly" to its rightful owners. Complications include her elderly friends who appreciatively swarm around the Marcus group during a hilarious afternoon tea party. One development of special interest to me is the fact that, except for the psychopath Louis Harvey (Lom), the thieves do not want Mrs. Wilberforce harmed in any way and begin to feel protective toward her. This proves to be significant as the plot proceeds gracefully to a conclusion I did not anticipate. Given the number of deaths which occur in this film, it seems inappropriate to describe it as "charming" and "delightful" but it is nonetheless. For that, I give most of the credit to the performance by Katie Johnson under Mackendrick's direction and with the strong support of Guinness who obviously defers to her prominence in so many important scenes. The supporting cast is first-rate. Yes, that really is a very young Peter Sellers in the role of Harry Robinson who is given relatively little to say and do. Danny Green is excellent as One Round, providing the muscle needed to complete the plan devised by the group's brain, Marcus. For these and other reasons, this is my favorite among the five films in "The Alec Guinness Collection.""
Classic British Farce
Harry Griffith | 10/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Years ago, before the networks realized there was a late night culture that could be exploited with mindless extreme sports and shopping channels, you could find classic British films like this one on TV in the wee hours. This film is a must-see for Anglophiles, along with School For Scoundrels, Whisky Galore, and Kind Hearts and Coronets. Star Wars fans should see this, if only to understand why Alec Guinness was able to become Obi Wan so effortlessly, his skill as an actor was already finely honed at the time of this great film. And today's film writers should study it to gain an insight into the proper way to put a real twist on the end of a film."
Black comedy at its finest
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 10/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the kind of dark, bleak comedy that the British excelled at in the 1950s, and seems to anticipate many of the comic trends found on both sides of the Atlantic in the decades that were to follow. The plot concerns the adventures of a group of thieves who meet in the apartment of Alec Guinness, the gang's mastermind and the tenant of the lady of the title. Although the movie has many wonderful moments, I think my favorites are those in which a wildly grinning Guinness explains to his landlady the various goings on in his flat. The cast is absolutely first rate. Even by Guinness's chameleonic standards, this is one of his more unusual performances. He made himself up to bear a striking resemblance to the great Alastair Sim, wearing some padding to make his frame look more like Sim's, and wearing false teeth and combing his hair to more successfully mimic Sim. It is a quite successful imitation, but I would enjoy knowing a bit more about why Guinness made this decision. Anyone familiar with the Pink Panther films will be delighted to see Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom as members of Guinness's gang. Lom was one of the great heavies in 1950s British film, and his casting in a comedy film was at the time highly unusual. Sellers, of course, was a few years from the film that would first bring him fame, I'm ALRIGHT, JACK, and his role in this film is not a major one. This is very definitely the "early" Peter Seller, carrying a great deal more weight before he lost a great deal because of the illnesses that plagued him throughout most of his life (Sellers suffered from a very serious heart condition the eventually killed him).This film isn't for everyone. It isn't a film that will illicit laughs so much as smiles. And many will find the entire tone to be very, very dark, perhaps too dark for their liking. Finally, many will not enjoy a comedy in which all the major characters are essentially unlikable cads. But for those of us for whom these are not barriers, this is one of the most unique and enjoyable comedies of the 1950s."