Professor Marcus (Alec Guiness) rents a room from kindly, old Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson). He tells her he's a musician as are his pals (including Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom) and they need a quiet place to rehearse their classical music. They are, however, a gang of robbers planning their next heist and they intend to use the old lady to pull off the job.
This drôle 1955 black comedy is from the Ealing Studio. The heist is carried out despite the old lady's constant, well-intentioned, and funny interruptions, she gradually realizes her part in it, and justice prevails with lots of giggles. Guiness, sporting a large overbite and flyaway hair, is charmingly devious as the gang leader, but it is the inimitable Katie Johnson who steals the show. She's so likable and convincing, completely inhabiting the role of the befuddled, sweet landlady who is blithely unaware she is surrounded by criminals.
Highly recommended for those who enjoy classic British comedy.
In THE LADYKILLERS Alec Guiness stars as the criminal mastermind, Professor Marcus, behind a perfect plot to pull of a great train robbery (well, all the money from a train). Marcus has orchestrated the perfect plot as well as the perfect crew to pull off the heist: Major Claude Courtney (Cecil Parker), Louis Harvey (Herbert Lom), Harry Robinson (Peter Sellers), and One-Round Lawson (Danny Green). The gang is altogether, but they need a place to meet to plan the last minute details. Enter Mrs. Wilberforce … more
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: The 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 … more
In English comedy at its blackest (and funniest) pitch, this droll 1955 farce finds Alec Guinness in one of his typically deft, chameleon turns as would-be criminal mastermind Professor Marcus. When Marcus's grand plan to pull off a train heist leads him to a strategically situated house occupied by the genteel Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson), the ensuing masquerade triggers a mordant, even macabre comedy of manners. With Marcus and his rough-hewn cronies (Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, and Danny Green) posing as a string quartet, and the dear lady's demise seen as the means to their larcenous end, the gang's sinister machinations are consistently, if unwittingly, foiled by the good-hearted, resourceful widow.--Sam Sutherland