Classic Ealing comedy in which a group of bank robbers struggle to silence the eccentric old lady who discovers their crime. Mrs Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) lives alone in King's Cross with her parrots. She has been led to believe that the group of men renting rooms from her, Professor Marcus (Alec Guinness), the Major (Cecil Parker), Louis (Herbert Lom), Harry (Peter Sellers) and One-Round (Danny Green), are classical musicians. However, when one of the group's cases gets caught in the door and opens to reveal, not a musical instrument, but a plethora of banknotes, the virtuous Mrs Wilberforce vows to go to the police with the identities of the men. The criminals agree that the old lady has to be killed to silence her, but will this be as straightforward as it sounds?
Although you never really fear for Mrs "lop-sided" Wilberforce or General Gordon (her parrot) in The Ladykillers
, the criminal gang who come to stay are clearly dangerous. Alec Guinness is extraordinary as the buck-toothed mastermind, and once the hijacked lolly is stowed in their digs it's a joy to watch him scheme to eliminate the other crooks and abscond with it all. Herbert Lom's thuggishness, Peter Seller's nervy twitching, and Danny Green's lumbering cloddishness are a treat, but are wickedly done away with one by one under cover of locomotive smoke plumes. So many set-pieces make this a classic: sending the landlady to collect the stolen money at the station, Frankie Howerd's boisterous fruit seller cameo, and keeping alive the idea that the gang's a musical troupe with a penchant for Boccherini and Haydn. Some inspired set design and camera work even add an expressionistic quality. --Paul Tonks
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.