The Ladykillers Reviews
Doesn't waste a moment. Absorbs the viewer, taking you into a house at the end of a central London cul de sac, inhabited by a sweet old lady; only to turn into a delicious black comedy.
Complete with wonderous 1950's post-war London scenery, it's a must-watch classic.
The film follows a group of not-totally-competent criminals, led by a bizarre fake music professor (Alec Guinness), who gather in a rented room to plot a bank heist. What they don't count on is the sweet little old lady (Katie Johnson) who keeps inadvertently interfering in their plans and putting everything in jeopardy.
Alec Guinness is hilariously weird in the lead role; for those who know him primarily from his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, it's quite a trip to see Guinness play so strange and grotesque and silly. Peter Sellers plays another one of the criminals, though there's only a hint here of what a tremendous comic actor he would become later on. Herbert Lom is quite good as the darkest and most violent of the criminals, and Danny Green is funny as the simple-minded muscleman. The true standout, though, is Katie Johnson as Mrs. Wilberforce, the prim and good-natured little old lady who continuously frustrates the criminals' plans.
Though the film might seem tame by the standards of today's comedies, it has a playful silliness and sense of absurdity that keep it funny. My favorite thing about the movie is the way the whole plot is structured like a joke, with the punchline coming right at the end; it's a very good punchline indeed, and one of my favorite endings to any comedy ever. If you're a fan of British humor, I absolutely recommend this one, as well as Kind Hearts and Coronets.
The cast is just amazing. Alec Guinness transforms into a very strange, unnerving character that doesn't resemble any I've seen him play before. It was a really unexpected performance, and I think it worked well both for comedy in the early scenes, and to make him seem utterly insane in the later scenes. Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom took me some time to get used to, because I'm so accustomed to their Pink Panther roles, but they play very different characters here. I particularly loved Herbert Lom as the darkest character in the gang. Cecil Parker is funny as the nervous member of the group, because they use him running away in fear as a gag more than once. And lastly is Danny Green who plays the muscle in their team. He is great as the tough guy with an unexpected heart of gold, and I think his physical comedy is spot on. So if you want a few laughs I can heartily recommend The Ladykillers. It has a superb cast, and some extremely entertaining scenes. Yes, it is flawed and so I probably won't watch it regularly, but its still worth the time to see this team of great comic actors working together.
VERDICT: "High-Quality Stuff" - [Positive Reaction] This is a rating to a movie I view as very entertaining and well made, and definitely worth paying the full price at a theatre to see or own on DVD. It is not perfect, but it is definitely excellent... (Films that are rated 3.5 or 4 stars)
The comedian Frankie Howerd has a small role as an agitated barrow boy, as does Kenneth Connor as a taxi driver. A young Stratford Johns (Charlie Barlow from Z-Cars) plays the driver of the security van that gets robbed.
Guinness based Professor Marcus on the popular comedian and actor Alastair Sim. Sim's daughter has claimed in interviews that many assume that her father actually played the part.
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role - Katie Johnson
BAFTA Award for Best British Screenplay - William Rose
Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay - William Rose
BAFTA Award for Best Film, British Film and Film from any Source
In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted The Ladykillers the 36th greatest comedy film of all time, and The Guardian labelled it the 5th greatest comedy of all time in 2010.
Mrs. Wilberforce's house, No. 57, was a set built at the western end of Fredericia Street. In the 1970s a new housing estate was built in that area. The closest Mrs. Wilberforce's house was, is at the southern end of Conistone Way. It was directly above the southern portal of Copenhagen Tunnel on the railway line leading out of King's Cross railway station. However, the views from her house are of Argyle Street, some distance away, with the tower of St Pancras railway station in the background. The scene of the security truck turning into King's Cross used the route from Goods Way, passing gas holders, turning left into Battle Bridge Road and right into Cheney Road. Goods Way was realigned northwards as a part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link works and the gas holders were removed. A short length of Battle Bridge Road survives, but Cheney Road was largely removed to accommodate a realignment of Pancras Road that was originally to run to the east of the German Gymnasium, but now runs between St Pancras railway station and the German Gymnasium.
In 1966, the film was adapted into an opera by the Czech composer Ilja Hurník under the name The Lady and the Robbers (Dáma a lupi?i).
A radio adaptation of the film was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 13 January 1996 starring Edward Petherbridge and Margot Boyd.
In 2004, the Coen Brothers directed a Hollywood remake of the film, starring Tom Hanks, with J. K. Simmons, Marlon Wayans, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst, and Irma P. Hall. For the remake, the setting of the film is moved from London to Saucier, Mississippi, home of a riverboat casino.
In 2011 the film was adapted as a play by Graham Linehan. It premiered at the Liverpool Playhouse in November that year before transferring to the Gielgud Theatre in London.
A new adaptation of the film arrived to London Vaudeville Theatre on their 2013 summer tour around the UK and Ireland. A big part of the cast has been changed for this new season
the whole cast::
Katie Johnson as Mrs Louisa Alexandra Wilberforce
Alec Guinness as Professor Marcus
Cecil Parker as Major Claude Courtney
Herbert Lom as Louis Harvey
Peter Sellers as Harry Robinson
Danny Green as 'One-Round' Lawson
Jack Warner as the police superintendent
Philip Stainton as the police sergeant
Frankie Howerd as the barrow boy
Phoebe Hodgson as Constance
Helene Buris as Appolonia
Evelyn Kerry as Amelia
Edie Martin as Lettice
Kenneth Connor as the taxi driver
Harold Goodwin as the railway parcels clerk
Lucy Griffiths as Miss Pringle
Vincent Holman as the station master
Stratford Johns as the security van guard
Jack Melford as a detective
Leonard Sharp as the pavement artist
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