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on 16 October 2015
THE LADYKILLERS [1955/2015] [60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition] [Blu-ray] The Most Hilarious Gangster Film Ever Made! The Titan of Comedy in the most hilarious frolic!

Ealing Studios’ output from the 1940s and the 1950s helped define what was arguably the Golden Age for British Cinema. It fostered great directors such as Alexander MacKendrick and Robert Hamer, while giving stars such as Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers the chance to shine.

With iconic performances from Sir Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom, ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ is quintessential Ealing Studios. Direct Alexander MacKendrick’s film centres on a criminal gang planning their next job, who find themselves boarding with an innocent old lady who thinks they are musicians. When the gang set out to kill Mrs. Wilberforce, they run into one problem after another, and get what they deserve. Alexander MacKendrick’s last film as director before his move to Hollywood. ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ remains one of the best British comedies ever made.

FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: BAFTA® Awards: Win: Best Actress in a Leading Role for Katie Johnson. Win: Best British Screenplay for William Rose. Nominated: Writing Original Screenplay for William Rose. Nominated: Best Film, British Film and Film from any Source. 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 BBC TV Series ‘Z-Cars’) plays the driver of the security van that gets robbed. Mrs. Wilberforce's house, No. 57, was a set built at the western end of Frederica Street, in Barnsbury, North London. In the 1970s a new housing estate was built in that area. 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 film poster was by Reginald Mount.

Cast: Sir Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner, Katie Johnson, Philip Stainton, Frankie Howerd, Madge Brindley (uncredited), Hélène Burls (uncredited), Kenneth Connor (uncredited), Michael Corcoran (uncredited), Harold Goodwin (uncredited), Fred Griffiths (uncredited), Lucy Griffiths (uncredited), George Hilsdon (uncredited), Phoebe Hodgson (uncredited), Vincent Holman (uncredited), Anthony John (uncredited), Stratford Johns (uncredited), Evelyn Kerry (uncredited), Sam Kydd (uncredited), Aileen Lewis (uncredited), Edie Martin (uncredited), Jack Melford (uncredited), Robert Moore (uncredited), Arthur Mullard (uncredited), Ewan Roberts (uncredited), George Roderick (uncredited), John Rudling (uncredited), Leonard Sharp (uncredited), Peter Williams (uncredited) and Neil Wilson (uncredited)

Director: Alexander Mackendrick

Producers: Michael Balcon and Seth Holt

Screenplay: William Rose (story and screenplay) and Jimmy O'Connor (uncredited)

Composer: Tristram Cary

Cinematography: Otto Heller

Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Audio: English: 2.0 LPCM Mono Audio and English: 2.0 LPCM Stereo Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Running Time: 90 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Ealing Studios / STUDIOCANAL

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: One of the most popular films produced by Ealing Studios during their peak years, ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ [1955] is a delightful black comedy that has aged much better than some of the other Ealing Studios entertainments from the same period. For one thing, the clever script by William Rose, which was of course was nominated for an OOSCAR® and is so impeccably British, conjuring up a portrait of post-war London that is both idealised and of its time. And the central premise is hard to top. A gang of thieves, headed by Professor Marcus [Sir Alec Guinness], and takes two rooms at a boarding-house run by the eccentric Mrs. Wilberforce [Katie Johnson]. Here they pretend to be a practicing string quartet as a cover for their true intention is a security van robbery. Although the gang successfully carry off their heist, the criminals are eventually undone by their own greed and their various, unsuccessful attempts to murder their meddling landlady who remains oblivious to their crime or does she?

A gang of robbers posing as a string quartet hole up in seedy King’s Cross in ‘THE LADYKILLERS,’ and we discover a glimpse of a vanished London in the past. Alexander Mackendrick’s 1955 black comedy crime caper ‘THE LADYKILLERS,’ is imbued with the seedy, grimy urban frontier feel that the King’s Cross district oozed in 1950s England and the last of the brilliant Ealing Studios Comedies, and the film centres on a rag-tag gang of crooks, led by Sir Alec Guinness’s sinister Professor Marcus, who pull off an audacious security van robbery at King’s Cross station. At the time of filming, King’s Cross station and its immediate vicinity was a very far cry from the gentrified area it has only recently become.

The gang, posing as a string quartet, holed up in a lodging room in the area to plan the robbery. However, they meet their match in the form of their apparently frail old landlady, Mrs Wilberforce, charmingly portrayed by Katie Johnson. As the 1950s dawned, that part of North London was thick with coal grime from the constant flow of steam trains in and out of the capital’s busiest station, and ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ was made a year before lawmakers introduced the Clean Air Act. As a major gateway to and from the rest of Great Britain, King’s Cross station was surrounded by myriad boarding houses, vans transporting sacks of wages unloaded from trains, and trolley buses choking the streets. It all made the likelihood of the crime happening at King’s Cross station all the more authentic.

The setting for Mrs Wilberforce’s house was built so that it would have no perfect right angles and everything was designed to look dilapidated and broken. And Alexander Mackendrick said he wanted the house to be “dwarfed by the grim landscape of railway yards and screaming express trains as an anachronism in the contemporary world”. So the set was built not in Ealing Studios, but on a vacant lot at the end of a through-road named Frederica Street, about a mile to the north of King’s Cross. But the view out of the windows and the street was actually Argyle Street, closer to the station.

For the film’s set-piece robbery, Alexander Mackendrick and his crew began shooting on the cobbled streets behind King’s Cross station at the junction of Battle Bridge Road and Goods Way. The famous Victorian Gasometers loom large in the shots while several scenes, including one with Mrs Wilberforce, are shot in the cavernous Victorian station itself. Other streets in the area used include Cheney Road and St Chad’s Street, while a red telephone box on Vernon Square is used by Guinness’s professor to make phone calls to a fellow gang member. And the Copenhagen rail track tunnel, whose walls can still be seen today, provides the location for the film’s grisliest scene when the body of gang member Harry, played by Peter Sellers, is disposed of. ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ marked Mackendrick’s last film adventure on British streets before he took off for the sunnier, altogether less grimy streets of Hollywood.

According to the film's producer that in his autobiography “Michael Balcon Presents . . . A Lifetime of Films,” screenwriter William Rose "literally dreamed up ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ the germ of the idea came to him while he was asleep and at a time when he confessed that his brain was barren of ideas. He had been working at high pressure and felt creatively exhausted. Happily for us, he recalled the dream one day while talking with [director Alexander] "Sandy" MacKendrick, and so was born the story of the somewhat pixilated old lady getting involved in the doings of an extraordinary gang of crooks." The interesting thing about ‘THE LADYKILLERS,’ which is set in a precisely detailed world of English manners and tradition, is the fact that William Rose was actually an American. Who defected to Canada prior to World War II and joined the army there, later coming to England where he attempted to enter the film industry. He eventually went to work at Ealing where he worked on ‘Genevieve’ [1953], ‘Touch and Go’ [1955] and other features.

Other cast members who would go on to greater fame and fortune after ‘THE LADYKILLERS,’ were Kenneth Connor and Frankie Howard, who appeared in several of the popular British Carry On comedy films and, of course, Herbert Lom, who would team up with Peter Sellers years later, playing his nemesis in a series of the Pink Panther films. ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ marked Alexander MacKendrick's final film for Ealing Studios; he soon departed for America where he would direct ‘Sweet Smell of Success’ in 1957, and a film which was a complete departure from his forte, especially British comedy films. In 2004, the Coen Brothers remade ‘The Ladykillers’ with Tom Hanks and moved the setting from London to Biloxi, Mississippi and was a total ghastly disaster and should have never ever of been contemplated and to try and improve over the original 1955 ‘THE LADYKILLERS,’ as it was a total insult to do so.

Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ offers a stunning knockout transfer for an Ealing Studios film of this vintage. This new Blu-ray release adds information back with wider black bars to each side, and accurately displays the restored negatives in the manner they were originally shot generate an image capable of filling a greater portion of our TV widescreen display. STUDIOCANAL’s new 2015 release transfer looks even much improved for its 1955 age. Fine object detail comes close to the clarity of a modern production, and it's a natural element of the period in which the classic film was shot. Regarding the black levels, contrast, and colouring, the film has never looked better. In the end, fans of ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ and classic cinema in general will be very pleased with the stunning visual upgrade on this 2015 STUDIOCANAL’s Blu-ray release. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – This very welcome upgrade with the 2.0 LPCM Mono Audio, and offers a very subtle increase in brilliant clarity and has brilliant gains in audio balance. Listening to the dialogue Mono Audio track, I never noticed a shred of distortion, hiss, or dropout, and the vocal nuances of each character were reproduced with a high level of accuracy. Environmental sound effects are well-balance with the rest of the elements in the mix without coming across overbearing, and the whimsical musical score by first-time composer Tristram Cary adds a brilliant touch of character to the overall track. In my assessment, this is a perfectly capable audio experience that remains true to the nature of the original sound recording of this upgraded 2015 STUDIOCANAL release.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Audio Commentary: Commentary by Philip Kemp: Film historian Philip Kemp delivers a well-researched commentary, although his delivery is rather dry. It felt too much like he was reading form a script rather than reacting to what he saw, which is understandable considering all the information he offers, but at the same time after a while he starts rambling on about other films relating to the Ealing Studios and is very off putting. The audio commentary track is somewhat dry at times, but the wealth of information collected by Kemp is astounding. From conversations on the set to anecdotes regarding Alexander Mackendrick's compulsive desire for perfection, Philip Kemp literally transports viewers back to 1955. One interesting fact we hear about, is that they were going to hire Sir Richard Attenborough because of his early career as an actor in British films, but in the end they changed their minds. Alexander MacKendrick was keen to get Peter Sellers because of his time in the BBC Radio “The Goon Show” and the way he uses his voice to create different characters and as a bonus, Peter Sellers does all the voices for Mrs. Wilberforce’s 3 parrots. A word of warning, because this audio commentary by Philip Kemp is in 2.0 LPCM Stereo Audio, when he stops his rambling coherent audio commentary and allows the film to proceed in hearing the actors speak in the film, you will notice the actors lip sync is out and luckily at times you only get brief moments like this, as hearing the voices not working with the lips is very off putting. And so ends this audio commentary that was partly interesting, but a lot of the time Philip Kemp goes off rambling in lots of different directions on information about other films that came out of the Ealing Studios, but instead should stick to information about ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ as Philip Kemp certainly likes the sound of his own voice and after a while you wish he would be silent more often now and again. So all in all I can only give a 5 out of 10 star rating for his effort in doing this audio commentary.

Special Feature: Introduction by filmmaker Terry Gilliam [2012] [1080i] [1.37:1] [2:58] This brief interview, that was filmed in an empty studio, is with the talented director Terry Gilliam, who demonstrates the level of appreciation he has for the classic film productions of the Ealing Studios, yet he barely scratches the surface behind his reasoning. But he informs us that when lived in the San Fernando Valley in California his youth is 1955, and the area where he lived was very boring, flat and bleached out, but when ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ was released in his local cinema he felt London looked very exotic city landscape, compared to the boring landscape of the San Fernando Valley. We also find out that the King’s Cross location of the film, was where he first lodged when he moved to the UK and in fact was very near to where they filmed ‘THE LADYKILLERS.’ Terry Gilliam informs us that he loved the film’s moody lighting and the characters were always in the shadows, which gives the impression of a constant threat and that something could go terribly wrong. Terry Gilliam also praises the director Alexander MacKendrick’s use of the camera, especially when the little old ladies are milling about in the hallway. Also another reason he loves the film is because it has brilliant acting performances, as well as brilliant comedy timing and especially that they are real characters with real ideas, real passions, real dreams, real frustrations and of course, ultimately real greed. Which at this point the filming ends abruptly. Sadly this is far too short, but still interesting. But you can see why Terry Gilliam loves the film ‘THE LADYKILLERS.’

Special Feature: Forever Ealing [2002] [1080i] [1.37:1] [49:36] This Documentary is about the history of the British Ealing Studios, from its beginnings in 1902, that is located in a quiet suburb of West London, where all the funniest British Comedy Films were conjured up. This Documentary celebrates the history and influence of England's Ealing Studios with the documentary of ‘Forever Ealing’ [2002]. Narrated by Daniel Day-Lewis, whose grandfather, Sir Michael Balcon, ran the studio during its heyday, the documentary explores the enduring popularity of the quirky studio responsible for defining British comedy on the big screen. The documentary features interviews with Ealing Studios' stars, craftsmen, and contemporary filmmakers and actors who were influenced by the studio, as well as clips from many of the great films produced at Ealing. It also explores the studio's history from its origins in 1902 through its most prolific and popular decades of the 1940s and '50s, when it produced such films as ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ [1955], the story of innocence triumphing over evil as an elderly lady turns the table on her would-be assassins; ‘THE LAVENDER HILL MOB’ [1951], a tongue-in-cheek crime comedy starring Sir Alec Guinness as a gold thief who eventually gets arrested for his troubles; and ‘KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS’ [1949], in which Sir Alec Guinness plays numerous roles as different members of the snobbish D'Ascoyne family, each of whom eventually get exactly what they deserve at the hands of a disowned relative. The documentary also traces the Ealing Studios historic production of films and then the BBC television productions output and ends by exploring the contemporary rebirth of Ealing Studios as the home for films including, ‘An Ideal Husband’ [1999] and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ [2002], as well as the desire of the present owners to re-create the spirit of the Ealing Studios from the 1940s and '50s. Interviewees include Ealing Studios Googie Withers [Actress] and John McCallum [Actor] watching their own films and commenting on their romantic relationship on and off screen. OSCAR® winning screenwriter Tibby E. B. Clarke and cinematographer Douglas Slocombe shares their stories about the creative atmosphere at Ealing Studios, the main goal of craftsmanship and quality filmmaking, as well as the contributions made by those who worked on films for the studio. We also get other contributions from the great British luminaries like Jill Balcon [Widow of Michael Balcon]; Lord Richard Attenborough [Director] discusses how the films made at Ealing Studios have entertained and influenced them. Sir John Mills [Actor]; Derek Bond [Actor]; Martin Scorsese [Director] relates that ‘KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS’ was an influence on his film ‘Goodfellas’ [1990]. Philip Kemp [Film Historian]; Stephen Frears [Director]; Terry Gilliam [Director] discusses the inspiration ‘THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT’ [1951] which gave him the stolen idea for his film ‘BRAZIL’ [1985]. John Landis [Director] shares his views of the film studio system, including the thought that "Ealing Studios created wit of an extremely refined, stylised level." Barnaby Thompson [Producer] who is the New Studio Head of Ealing Studios. Colin Firth [Actor]; Rupert Everett [Actor] and John McCallum [Producer/Actor]. We also get Clips, including the only few seconds remaining of Ealing Studios first feature, the film ‘60 Years A Queen’ [1902]; ‘The Captive Heart’ [1946]; ‘SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC’ [1948]; ‘The Big Blockade’ [1941]; ‘THE CRUEL SEA’ [1953] and ‘PASSPORT TO PIMLICO’ [1949]. But one last bit of bonus we get, is where we are informed that Peter Sellers while filming ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ produced his own personal audio film trailer via a reel-to-reel tape recorder, to entertain the cast and crew and it is the first time it has been heard, and while it is broadcast, we get a last look round the Ealing Studios. Directed by Andrew Snell. Produced by Andrew Solomon, Avril MacRory, Brendan Hughes, Caroline Thomas and Ron Halpern. Music by Tom Green. Cinematography by John Howarth. This special documentary was by Silver Apples Media in association with STUDIOCANAL and Channel 4 Television Corporation.

Special Feature: Interview with Screenwriter/Producer Allan Scott [2015] [1080i] [1.77:1] [49:36] Here we get the intimate thoughts of Allan Scott and talks extensively about the film ‘THE LADYKILLERS.’ Allen Scott says people say the film is a horror comic, but disagrees, but instead says it is a funny film. Allan Scott says the little old lady fascinated him and also says that Alexander MacKendrick always said “that comedy was the best way of not making life unbearable and that his films were extraordinary towards humanity” and also said, “that laughter without sympathy is intolerable and that laughter at yourself and your pain and faults is the best kind of joke.” Allan praises Sir Alec Guinness and says he gave a wonderful performance, but also liked the other characters in the film and that none of Alexander MacKendrisk’s films has dated and that he was very fussy and critical of his film, but at the same found him to be a very sweet guy, but also had a troubled life, both professionally and personally, but was also a brilliant teacher, and students worshipped him. And so all in all ends a fascinating insight into the direct Alexander MacKendrick and especially finding out about his brilliant work directing classic Ealing Studios films at Ealing Studios, but most important Allan Scott tells it all in a very interesting and fascinating way.

Special Feature: Interview with Director Terence Davies [2015] [1080i] [1.77:1] [13:48] With this second special interview we again get the intimate thoughts of Terence Davis and also talks extensively about the film ‘THE LADYKILLERS.’ Terrence Davies was a student under the direction of Alexander MacKendrick and praised him greatly and said what a wonderful teacher he was, especially when in Alexander MacKendrick’s classes he would put on films like ‘The Third Man’ and discuss its merits and techniques of filming and was a total revelation. Terrence Davies says Alexander MacKendrick’s films had a great influence in his directing technique, and especially with the use of Technicolor, and of course raves over the film ‘THE LADYKILLERS,’ which he equally tells us that he adores the film. Terrence Davies loved Sir Alec Guinness as Professor Marcus, but most of all we are informed that Alexander MacKendrick thought Sir Alec Guinness was a genius in the film and also praises the actress and says her performance was “gorgeous” and instantly feel in love with her character, but sadly when the film ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ was released Katie Johnson sadly passed away and never got to see the film. Terrence Davies mentions director Robert Hamer, who made ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ and felt it was his greatest comedy film and and points out that Alexander MacKendrick and Robert Hamer’s films were all about class, plus also about revenge, and also feel life has robbed them of their privileges and we hoped they would get away with it. Terrence Davies feels ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ has not dated at all, especially as it has a cosy effect about it, but it also has something different about it. So ends another fascinating interview special, especially with Terence Davies who is very interesting and engaging person and is well worth a view, especially hearing all the informative stuff about the director Alexander MacKendrick.

Special Feature: Interview with Screenwriter Ronald Harwood [2015] [1080i] [1.77:1] [7:14] With this third and final special interview we again get the intimate thoughts of Ronald Harwood and also talks extensively about the film ‘THE LADYKILLERS.’ Ronald Harwood informs us that Alexander MacKendrick was the first director he has ever worked for, and was a very charming experience and became a very good friend to Alexander MacKendrick and was co-writer to the film ‘A High Wind in Jamaica. Ronald Harwood tells us that Alexander MacKendrick had a good sense when it came to a story, which is very important, but there was a definite a dark side to Alexander MacKendrick’s personality. Ronald Harwood is asked if ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ has dated and says, “Oh No, because you can see it has not dated, but mentions the ghastly American re-make that has definitely dated.” And so ends another fascinating and brilliant interesting interview special.

Special Feature: Locations Feature [2015] [1080p] [1.77:1] [7:14] Here we have the BBC Radio 4's Alan Dein [Broadcaster and Oral Historian] with his special anniversary film talk tour and we also get screenings of some of the iconic comedy clips of the film ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ pointing out at the same time where it was actually filmed. It is 60 years since the release of this iconic classic film comedy by Ealing Studios the tour starts off in Argyle Street that was repeatedly used throughout the film and also the main view of Mrs. Wilberforce’s house and was just a prop that was built in Frederica Street, London. We also find out that the famous Red Telephone Box that is used by the Professor and the Major that is no longer there. Next location is St. Chad's Street, Kings Cross, London WC1H 8BD, where the Major bumps into Peter Sellers and where the police delivers the trunk full of the stolen money. The next location is Field Street, Kings Cross, London WC1X 9DA and this is where the abandoned car was filmed. Allen Dein also gives us more views around the King’s Cross area where a lot of the filming was done and the director Alexander MacKendrick loved the area a lot in 1955, as it still had the Dickensian look of the 1880s and the spot where Mrs. Wilberforce house was built and was on top of the Copenhagen Tunnel where the actors get bumped off and at that point we get few moments near the end of the film and without warning suddenly ends abruptly, but despite this, Allen Dein does a brilliant job with this special feature.

Special Feature: Audio Interview with Tom Pevsner [1926-2014] [1 Hour 31 minutes and 29 seconds] With this particular interview, we are not informed who conducted the interview, but I can tell you it is totally boring, as the interviewer is totally boring and has not done his homewaork. Tom Pevsner was born on 2nd October, 1926 in Dresden, Germany, and was the son of the distinguished architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner. His parents were German and were originally from Russia, and due to a decline in the fur trade, moved to Europe. Tom Pevsner eventually entered the film industry under the direction of Sir Michael Balcon at the famed Ealing Studios. He eventually became a third assistant director and moved up to first Assistant Director with Ealing Studios productions, such as ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ [1955]. Tom Pevsner later served as Associate Producer on such films as ‘A High Wind in Jamaica’ [1965], Fred Zinnemann's ‘JULIA’ [1977] and John Badham's ‘DRACULA’ [1979]. Tom Pevsner served as Executive Producer for the first and only time on the 1995 relaunch of the James Bond films. But at the end we get a notice informing us this was in memory of Tom Pevsner, who passed away on the 18th August, 2014.

Special Feature: Audio Interview with David Peers [1 Hour 32 minutes and 34 seconds] Once again we have this idiot doing another audio interview. David Peers was born in 1924 in London in the Notting Hill Gate area, which was his home and working area for most of his life, but now resides in the countryside. When he as 9 years of age his Parents sent him up to a boarding school in Yorkshire, which always departed from King’s Cross Station. But he informs us of a tragic fire that happened with one of carriages caught fire on the journey up to Yorkshire, where six boys were killed, but luckily David had a lucky escape. In 1942 he entered the army and spent the rest of that period in the Second World War. He is asked how he became involved with the film industry, which all came about via his father, who was one of the earliest pioneers in the film industry in. David Peers then went onto the Gate Film Studios, and then moved onto the Ealing. David Peers talk about Ealing Studios and Michael Balcon who had a moral outlook. David Peers praised the direct Alexander MacKendrick and David Peers does most of the talking and is a joy to hear and is also totally fascinating and very informative on his life and times in the film industry and it is a totally sheer delight and joy of 1 hour 32 minutes and 34 seconds.

Special Feature: Cleaning Up ‘The Ladykillers’ [2015] [1080p] [1.37:1] [5:06] This feature had general dirt and sparkle throughout the film, but also some very dirty optical images. It also suffered in places from some very severe blue staining. Nearly half of the feature film had static dirt; and these particular scenes were run the Regional Fill Filter to automatically remove the dirt. The “Clean Up” reveals what actions were taken to clean up the imperfections, and split-screens show original/restored comparisons, but there is no sound and it is an amazing bit of work was done and the team should be quite proud of their professional work.

Special Feature: Stills Gallery [2015] [1080p] [1.37:1] You get to view 27 stunning rare Black-and-White Promotional images of never before behind-the-scenes look at the filming of ‘THE LADYKILLERS,’ plus some rare images of the special ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ “Street Tea Party” in celebration of the Ealing Studios filming and you get to see some of the stars helping out.

Theatrical Trailer [1955] [1080p] [1.37:1] [2:34] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ and it is a totally brilliant trailer and is also really brilliant presentation especially with the voice over announcer and is as good as the film itself!

Finally, ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ is a must-own this 2015 upgraded Blu-ray title, especially for all fans of classic Ealing Studios dark comedy films. Because it combines lasting appeal, a first-rate professional cast actors, exceptional directing, and very clever witty dialogue, and the film's relevance is undeniable. This new high-definition presentation offers a definitive technical presentation that exceeds all prior previous Blu-ray versions in every possible way, while also managing to deliver an extensive brilliant supplemental package of value-added material. If you've been waiting for the right time to buy ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ this special upgraded 2015 Blu-ray release, then this is the one for you. Very Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
0Comment|12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 1 December 2005
"The Ladykillers" has stood up well to the ravages of time and although I have not seen the recent Hollywood remake , I am sure this original is much better. The film is sinister, atmospheric yet humourous; the criminal gang never really appear menacing despite their malevolent intentions towards their elderly landlady ,Mrs Wilberforce, with Alec Guinness playing the leading role as a criminal mastermind who,as part of his cunning plan,deliberately makes the old lady an unwitting accessory to a large robbery. I liked the film primarily because of it's unusual plot, rich characterisation and excellent acting. However the atmospheric locations also help to make "The Ladykillers" a memorable film ,especially Mrs Wilberforce's wonderful subsiding house perched high above a busy railway line. The presence of steam trains in the film is not only central to the plot ,but also helps to create a sense of motion, danger and uncertainty and adds significantly to the charm and attractiveness of this entertaining black comedy.
11 comment|31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 September 2010
"Kind Hearts and Coronets," "The Ladykillers," "Monsieur Verdoux," and "Unfaithfully Yours" form the dark crown of black comedy on film. Only the last is American. Grim hilarity seems to be a particularly British specialty.

Reading through a lengthy series (49 as I write this) of Amazon US reviews is often rewarding. In this case the great majority of those who write of this film lavish praise on the cast and plot. A substantial sub-class of reviewers felt it necessary to denounce the recent remake with Tom Hanks. (And quite right they were, too!) One reviewer praised the film and then gave a miserly single star in what must have been sheer error.

A single reviewer despised the film for its slow pace. In a brisk 91 minutes "The Ladykillers" offers the planning of a heist, its execution and the crumbling of all criminal expectations, along with the increasingly ironic deaths of five crooks. As Basil Fawlty might ask, what more does the reviewer want--herds of wildebeest rushing across the plains while Krakatoa explodes in the background?

A few reviewers noted that Alec Guinness was doing a masterly imitation of the great Alistair Sim. On that point, I have always wondered why Ealing didn't just cast Sim in the role in the first place. Sim starred in a deliciously black little comedy called "The Green Man" in which he played a master assassin foiled by a witless door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. "The Green Man" misses the exalted status of the films listed at the beginning of this piece by the narrowest of margins. Sim was also in "The School for Scoundrels," of course, but that small gem is just a little too cheery for true black comedy.

There are excellent summaries of the plot and insightful commentaries on the actors. I feel no need to repeat either here. I shall, then, take up three points that no-one has mentioned.

Billing in this film is odd. Guinness is clearly intended to be the star. The four other members of the gang are prominently listed. But 75 year-old Katie Johnson, who actually turned out to be the star of the picture and earned the British equivalent of an Oscar to prove it--not to mention the plain fact that she ate Guinness alive in every scene they shared--is listed as one of the supporting players in seventh or eighth spot.

The set design is stupendous. Mrs. Wilberforce's tiny, lopsided house on top of the railway bridge, idiosyncratic plumbing and all, is one of the greatest locations ever put on film. That house becomes as much a character in the movie as Mrs. W, herself, or any of the gang.

The musical score is quite perfect for the film--as good in its small way as the score of "Alexander Nevsky." It begins in unexpected formality with an Elgar-like symphonic introduction. Soon Mrs. Wilberforce appears and she comes with her own theme, almost a leitmotiv: "The Last Rose of Summer" played on a barrel organ. The heist has its theme, too, the Boccherini String Quintet (deedle-deedle-dee-dum-ti-dee-dee). Once heard, it is never to be forgotten. When all is well with the heist, so it is with the Quintet (deedle-deedle-dee-dum-ti-dee-dee). When difficulties arise, the Quintet suffers. At one point, a recording of the Boccherini is removed from a phonograph and intentionally smashed. As the movie swirls toward ultimate darkness, Boccherini disappears and the score generates a new theme: bodies plunging over the railroad bridge (harummm-THUD). Again, once heard, never forgotten. At the end of the film, a new and better day for Mrs. W is hailed by the reappearance of the barrel organ and "The Last Rose of Summer."

"The Ladykillers," admittedly makes demands on its viewers that are seldom to be found in contemporary pictures. It requires, for example, an attention span greater than that of a gnat. And it neglects to provide even a single flatulence joke for the relief of the more anxious members of the audience. Nevertheless it's a great film.

Five (deedle-deedle-dee-dum-ti-dee-dee) stars.
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When I first saw "The Ladykillers" in its supposed 'restored' state a few years back on DVD, I was a little under whelmed. It still seemed very washed out to me. But I'm thrilled to report that this February 2010 Studio Canal Collection BLU RAY completely changes that.

Given what they had to work with (a very corroded print covered in stuck-on hairs, fingerprints, scratch lines, blemishes in the negative, double-imaging of colour) - the result is little short of miraculous. It isn't picture-perfect for sure and some scenes still have corrosion and blocking in them, but mostly it's a massive improvement. Finally the BLU RAY format has brought out all that detailed restoration work - and it's the very best I've ever seen this beloved British classic look. The extras are superlative too - generous and hugely informative.

Details first...

Country choices in set-up are: Australia, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Sweden, UK, USA and Japan

Overdubbed Languages are: French, German and Castellano (no subtitles available)

The Extras are:
1. Introduction by Terry Gilliam (a short & affectionate appraisal)
2. Commentary by Philip Kemp (a feature-length commentary by this noted expert that is full of superb detail and anecdotes - by far the best extra on here)
3. "Forever Ealing" Documentary (2002, voiced by Daniel Day-Lewis, features contributions from Colin Firth, John Mills, Richard Attenborough, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and many others)
4. Interview With Allan Scott (Screenwriter/Producer, superb comments on MacKendrick's directing techniques, plot structures, uses of colour etc)
5. Cleaning Up "The Ladykillers" (original versus restored split screen shots - no dialogue)
6. Interview with Ronald Harwood (Screenwriter & friend of Alexander "Sandy" Mackendrick the Director)
7. Interview with Terence Davies (Director, Writer - talks of MacKendrick's classes on Filmmaking)
8. Trailer
9. BD Live

The first time you 'really' see the improvement is when Mrs. Wilberforce hands in a basket at the local cop shop run by Jack Warner who placates her with wonderful gentility. And more too when the shadow of Alec Guinness addles up to her front door with 'danger' strings sounding - she opens it - and there he is - all sinister grin and grubby scarf. The colour is superb and hugely improved.

And then of course there's cast you couldn't buy now for love or money - each one a gem - the Classical String Quartet of thieves - Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Cecil Parker and the big lug Danny Green - each one absolutely necessary to the overall state of anarchy. There's even Frankie Howerd as the barrow boy.

But it's the perpetually making-tea old biddy played so brilliantly by Katie Johnson who steels the show. Like some perverse and malicious force of nature, Mrs. Wilberforce sweetly wanders through the entire film causing all sorts of mayhem and death and is blissfully unaware of it all. You find yourself chuckling uncontrollably all through the film and for days afterwards. Half the enjoyment of course is watching all of the boys thinking they're smarter than her and then after-a-while falling for her genuine British goodness - only to find that she kills them all (unintentionally of course)! The film also belongs just as much to Alec Guinness (who stepped in for Alistair Sims) the mastermind of the heist. He is just delicious - creepily brilliant as he slinks around Mrs. 'Lopsided' and her King's Cross St. Pancreas home. With a genuinely evil relish, he's all the time probing the unwitting old lady for holes he can use (dialogue above). Unbelievably good and it hasn't dated a jot either.

Did you know that Peter Sellers also does the voices of all the Parrots, or that Alec Guinness only found his Professor Marcus character through a set of protruding teeth and that because Katie Johnson was 79 when she took the part, Ealing were afraid that the role might actually kill the poor woman, so she had to be insured or she couldn't do the part (she stumped up the money herself). Well you do now - and you'll learn a whole lot more besides about this 1955 gem through this wonderful release.

When Mrs. Wilberforce asks in the local shop at the beginning of the movie "Has there been anything about the advertisement?" - I urge you to answer the call.

Treat yourself to "The Ladykillers" on BLU RAY - and then sit there with a big mug of tea and a digestive - tittering uncontrollably every few minutes at its sheer genius.

PS: for other superb restorations on BLU RAY, see also my reviews for "The Italian Job", "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning", "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner", "Zulu", "The Dambusters", "Quo Vadis", "North By Northwest", "Cool Hand Luke", "The Prisoner - The Complete (TV) Series In High Definition", "Goldfinger", "Braveheart", "Snatch", "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "The African Queen"
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 October 2010
This is probably the best Ealing comedy ever made. A great black comedy, its the story about a gang of crooks whose elderly landlady accidently discovers their responsibility for a robbery. One by one the crooks attempt - and fail to bump her off. All the cast are superb, especially Alec Guinness and Herbert Lom, as two of the crooks who bicker between themselves throughout the movie. Forget the inferior Tom Hanks remake, this is the original and best.

P.S. I cannot comment on the picture quality on this copy of the movie, as I bought the other Studio Canal copy of this on the "Ealing Comedy DVD Collection" which also features "Kind Hearts And Coronets" "The Lavender Hill Mob" and "The Man In The White Suit". An animated picture of Alec Guinness features on the cover of the box, picture quality on all four films is very good.
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on 8 February 2012
Very disappointed with DVD as it comes with German subtitles which cannot be removed and so spoils enjoyment of the film unless you are German and can't understand English! I thought it might be a one-off but the replacement DVD had the same problem.Pity because it's a great film in every other respect.
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on 23 September 2011
this film will be on my dvd player forever, i watch it every month or so, best ever british movie, sellers, guinness, lom, parker and mr. danny green, little miss lop sidey, katie johnson, are the best laugh you will ever have, plus old london scenes, buy this and keep a spare copy in the cupboard, best of british here....ever,
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on 8 December 2012
I have known this since I was an immature, early-teenage boy, we were less worldly then, few had television, but the rest of school liked it too; have seen it a number of occasions, and still find it very funny. Yet have seen the remake a decade ago and it made little impression despite their Star actor, good actors too; but brash, typical US overblown robbery, and unlikely scenario, where the relationship between the players didn't work for me, was harsh, more brutal than necessary; think it also introduce a racial conflict element. The whole point of the British story is the protagonists are losers, in an out of step unmodernised British society, still hanging on after WW2, compared to the stories of 1950's America, tales of Flying Saucers at the Police station. This is the disenfranchised unemployed petty, but loner criminals. There is not only the robbery of a security vehicle, not seen, because the story is about the two groups; dotty old ladies; and dotty ageing gentile, old lags. The old lady is the heroine; moral, reasonable, kind. What is called entertainment for the whole family, but inappropriate below 12yrs, because they would not comprehend subtlety innuendo. What was called 'U' certificate in those days.
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on 2 December 2012
'The Lady Killers' is up amongst the greatest movies for it's sheer quality in every department of movie making acting, editing, sound and direction. . Every player in it is top star quality. There really seems to be no end to the talent of Alec Guinness: in this he is creepy, repulsive and gives the impression that he might not be too clean. His accompanying gang of thugs are just perfect, especially the reluctant thug with his sad traces of faded gentility.
Katie Johnson gives a beautiful and very touching performance as the old lady, keeping our feet grounded in the realms of goodness and what we like to pretend is social 'normality', and in her contact with them, even the police come out well. I find it rather sad that her name is not on the disc or case of my copy.
The sculdugerry is highly sinister and believable and in the end when wrong is turned to right and all the baddies have received their just desserts one is left with and overpowering sense of awfullness and, thanks to the pivotal role of the old lady, a very much hightnened awareness of the difference between good and evil.
This movie is a MUST for the library of any serious student or enthusiast of movies or acting.
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on 25 February 2011
One of the last films to come out of Ealing studios, and definitely one of the best. Despite the presence of great actors such as Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers and Cecil Parker this film is dominated by the perfect performance of Katie Johnson as Mrs Wilberforce, the little old lady who lets one of the rooms in her lopsided house to criminal mastermind Professor Marcus, played admirably by Sir Alec. The faded colour of the print captures a Britain that has long since disappeared, of trains billowing steam, of cheery policemen on the beat and of gangs of criminals who respect the older generation.

A superb script, dark and with twists, guides us through the back streets near Kings Cross railway station. The film is amongst the very best of Ealing, and should be enjoyed alongside Kind Hearts and Coronets, Passport to Pimlico and The Lavendar Hill Mob.

The Coen brothers made a version of this film, and although I quite enjoyed it, it doesn't come near the perfection of this quite delicate film. Much of the dark humour in this film comes from the fact that the murderous intent of the villains is offset by the deftness and delicacy of Mrs Wilberforce's very being.
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