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The Ladykillers [DVD] 
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Almost the last Ealing Comedy, 'The Ladykillers' is IMHO the best. It is a simple tale, told quite superbly and skilfully with many wonderful visual gags - due essentially to the... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Mr. Laurence Williams
There is not much to say other than this is an absolute classic of British Cinema.Published 1 month ago by Ian Bone
Excellent. A great help in preparing my role as Mrs Wilberforce for the stage.Published 3 months ago by Fitpro