The Ladykillers - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Ladykillers Reviews

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February 14, 2017
Black comedy at its finest, as a group of thieves find an unwilling accomplice - and biggest obstacle to success - in an elderly woman. Top notch performances and dry British humor abounds - and, oh, those hilarious teeth of Sir Alec Guiness.
August 13, 2016
I could watch this many many times and still get it.
April 30, 2016
Guinness' humoress side.
March 4, 2016
A true classic of British cinema.
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.
February 7, 2016
Mrs. W steals the show, quite a feat considering the Professor's Alstair Simesque performance. A couple of minor editing hiccups don't distract from this classic.
January 28, 2016
Perfect little comedy. Impossible not to like.
½ January 21, 2016
In a word: splendid.
Super Reviewer
November 10, 2015
Beautifully written, and so good that not even the Coens could remake it.
September 13, 2015
I just watched this wonderfully wacky dark comedy! Well played, and Katie Johnson as the very proper little old lady who unknowingly becomes landlady to a gang of robbers is absolute perfection in her role.
April 5, 2015
Guinness's performance is easily worth the price of admission alone.
½ March 22, 2015
This is a wonderful classic comedy from the Ealing studio, a little British studio that in the late 1940s and 1950s produced a series of great, witty, silly movies, including Kind Hearts & Coronets and The Lavender Hill Mob. This one, which was remade into one of the Coen brothers' only not-great movies in 2004, is quite funny and charming in a daft, English way.

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.
February 17, 2015
A teeny tiny bit under 4 stars.
½ February 15, 2015
Classic Ealing Comedy
½ February 9, 2015
The Ladykillers is the story of 5 crooks who rent rooms from an old woman while planning out their heist. What I find interesting is that it doesn't even live up to the title until about halfway through the film. There's a long setup as we see the guys living with the craziness of being in Mrs. Wilberforce's house. Ordinarily a long setup is not something I'd look forward to, but in my opinion this is the funniest part of the movie. There's a particularly hilarious slapstick scene as they chase after a wandering parrot for Mrs. Wilberforce which had us laughing uncontrollably. The second act stumbled a few times but in general it still kept us entertained as they pulled off the robbery. It's too bad, but the third act is when it suddenly lost a lot of the humor. I thought there would be more slapstick as they tried and failed to be killers, but it lacked some of that spark we saw in the first 2 acts. The tone felt almost serious, which wouldn't ordinarily bother me because I can laugh at a black comedy, but it didn't match the tone earlier in the movie so I wasn't finding the humor in it as easily.

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.
½ January 20, 2015
Magnifica comedia britanica, los Coen hicieron un remake, que aun no vi. Imperdible!
½ January 1, 2015
A funny dark comedy, featuring great performances from the entire crew, most notably Katie Johnson and the wretched Alec Guinness. But the parrot is just too adorable!
½ October 5, 2014
The Ladykiller is a quintessential, black, English comedy that succeeds at all levels owing to marvelous performances by Katie Johnson and Alec Guinness, and a spot-on script. I have to confess, I first became familiar with the basic plot of The Ladykillers via the 2004 Coen Brothers remake, a film I enjoyed despite the fact that it's clearly one of the Coens' lesser films and despite the fact that everyone who had seen the original insisted that the '55 version was a vastly superior effort. Most of the slapstick set pieces warrant a polite smile rather than a hearty guffaw. The film's premise is honestly a little bit thin, so it's up to the actors to carry the movie through certain stretches. There's nothing sophisticated about The Ladykillers, and it loses some steam towards the end, but it's got a nice blend of silly and dark humor. It's so simple but also so amusing with plenty of dark humour and a great laugh out loud twist which stays with you long after the intricacies of the movie have faded. Good as Sellers and Johnson are, I feel like supporting players are a bit too undercooked. They're all basically simplistic, one-joke characters that never really get to demonstrate much nuance. But it is also the performances not only those of Alec Guinness and Katie Johnson but all the cast such as Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom which makes it so good and so much fun.

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)
September 14, 2014
classic, british comedy i have just seen this movie 4 the 1st time n think that this is such a fantastic movie 2 watch, its got a great cast of actors/actressess throughout this movie.....i think that alec guinness (.R.I.P.), cecil parker (.R.I.P.), herbert lom (.R.I.P.), peter sellers (.R.I.P.), danny green (.R.I.P.), play good roles/parts throughout this movie.....i think that the director of this drama/art house/international/mystery/suspense movie had done a great job of directing this movie because you never know what 2 expect throughout this this is such a classics movie 2 watch, it is so so so funny movie 2 watch....

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

man this is such a fantastic classics comedy movie 2 watch, its got a great cast thorughout this this is such a brilliant movie 2 watch, its got a good soundtrack throughout this movie, man this is such a fantastic movie 2 watch, its got a great cast throughout this movie, it is such a brilliant classics movie 2 watch, i think that this is such a really well written/acted/directed movie 2 watch, it is superb movie 2 watch, it is so so so funny movie 2 watch, with a great cast throughout this movie.....its such a brilliant movie 2 watch, its got a good soundtrack throughout this is so so so brilliant movie 2 watch, with a great cast throughout this movie.....
½ August 21, 2014
Hats off to Katie Johnson who makes the movie. Alec Guinness is also brilliant as the eccentric Professor Marcus. (First and only viewing - 7/29/2014)
July 30, 2014
Everyone has his/her favourite comedian. Mine is Peter Sellers.
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