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Customer Review

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lolly Pops, 26 Sept. 2005
This review is from: The Ladykillers [DVD] [1955] (DVD)
I recently purchased The Horse's Mouth (1958) from Amazon as well as "The Alec Guinness Collection" which includes The Ladykillers (1955) plus four others: Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), and The Captain's Paradise (1953). Frankly, I was amazed how well each of the six films has held up since I first saw it.

For me, the most memorable performance in this film is provided by Katie Johnson as Mrs. Louisa Alexandra Wilberforce who rents a flat to Professor Marcus (Guinness) and his companions. The plot such as it is involves their theft of 60,000 pounds and subsequent efforts to remove it from a locker they have rented to store it temporarily. For about half of this film, brilliantly directed by Alexander Mackendrick (who also directed Guinness in The Man in the White Suit, 1951), Mrs. Wilberforce believes that Marcus and his friends are honest citizens and amateur musicians. When she learns that they are thieves, her first concern is not for her personal safety (which is never in doubt, anyway) but to return "the lolly" to its rightful owners. Complications include her elderly friends who appreciatively swarm around the Marcus group during a hilarious afternoon tea party. One development of special interest to me is the fact that, except for the psychopath Louis Harvey (Lom), the thieves do not want Mrs. Wilberforce harmed in any way and begin to feel protective toward her. This proves to be significant as the plot proceeds gracefully to a conclusion I did not anticipate.

Given the number of deaths which occur in this film, it seems inappropriate to describe it as "charming" and "delightful" but it is nonetheless. For that, I give most of the credit to the performance by Katie Johnson under Mackendrick's direction and with the strong support of Guinness who obviously defers to her prominence in so many important scenes. The supporting cast is first-rate. Yes, that really is a very young Peter Sellers in the role of Harry Robinson who is given relatively little to say and do. Danny Green is excellent as One Round, providing the muscle needed to complete the plan devised by the group's brain, Marcus.

For these and other reasons, this is my favorite among the five films in "The Alec Guinness Collection."
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