The Ladykillers 1956 NR CC

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(134) IMDb 7.8/10
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A gang finds itself living with a little old lady, who thinks they are musicians. When the gang sets out to kill Mrs. Wilberforce, they run into one problem after another, and they get what they deserve.

Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker
1 hour, 31 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Comedy
Director Alexander Mackendrick
Starring Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker
Supporting actors Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner, Katie Johnson, Philip Stainton, Frankie Howerd, Madge Brindley, Hélène Burls, Kenneth Connor, Michael Corcoran, Harold Goodwin, Fred Griffiths, Lucy Griffiths, Phoebe Hodgson, Vincent Holman, Anthony John, Stratford Johns
Studio Lionsgate
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 24 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

And, of course, Alec Guinness was one of the best actors in the world.
And many will find the entire tone to be very, very dark, perhaps too dark for their liking.
Robert Moore
This very late Ealing comedy (1955) is one of the best British films ever made.
S J Buck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on January 4, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
A comedy from another place and another time, that right now seems so long ago and far away, "The Ladykillers," directed by Alexander Mackendrick, stars Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom, and stands as a perfect example of how charming, delightful, civilized and yes, "funny," a film can be when approached with intelligence and respect for the audience. Guinness plays Professor Marcus, who puts together a gang to pull off the "perfect" robbery he has concocted. But, as it always is with all things "perfect," it quickly goes awry for the gang, thanks to the involvement of an old lady (Katie Johnson), in whose house Marcus has taken rooms. And as the situation in which the gang finds themselves escalates as they try to put things to rights, the audience is treated to an exemplary piece of truly humorous and memorable cinema. Guinness anchors the farce with a superb characterization (even to altering his appearance with false teeth) of the Professor. It's a prime example of just how great a character actor Guinness was; as in all of his films, he creates a total character of Marcus, inside and out, beginning with the attitude and right on down to the smallest details that many actors would deem insignificant. There is a studied consistency he maintains throughout the film that would stand up to the closest scrutiny; it is not by accident that he is considered by many to be one of greatest actors of our times. And how great to see the youthful Peter Sellers in one of his earliest roles. Watch closely and you can see traces of the unique mannerisms that would mark his career; the slight hesitations, the inward, subtle consideration of the status quo and the sense he conveys in a split second that Murphy's Law is about to go into effect.Read more ›
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 31, 2003
Format: DVD
"The Ladykillers" is regarded as the last of the great Ealing comedies and another macabre black comedy in the style of "Kind Hearts and Coronets." However, I had picked up the film because it had both Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers and was therefore rather surprised that the one doing all the scene stealing is Katie Johnson as Mrs. Wilberforce, a sweet little old lady who makes it a daily practice to go round to the local constable's station each day to keep them apprised on what is happening in the neighborhood. Guinness plays Professor Marcus, a criminal mastermind who plans on duping Mrs. Wilberforce into being an unwitting member of his gang, who are going to rob a armored car. As a cover, he tells the old lady that they are a string quartet, and they play the same record over and over again while they develop their scheme. When Mrs. Wilberforce repeatedly arrives to offer tea, coffee, or any other comfort that comes to mind, the criminals all stand around uncomfortably holding their instruments and try to make small talk.
The gang has all of your standard criminal types. Danny Green is the gentle giant, One-Round (a.k.a. Mr. Lawson), Cecily Parker is the old army chap Claude (a.k.a. Major Courtney), Herbert Lom is the cold-hearted killer Louis (a.k.a. Mr. Harvey), and Sellers is the young rouge Harry (a.k.a. Mr. Robinson). However, the ironic point of this 1955 black comedy is that together they are no match for Mrs. Wilberforce. The heist goes off without a hitch, that is to say until Mrs. Wilberforce plays her unwitting role in the proceedings. What follows is like the old Chinese finger torture, where the more things work for the gang the worst off they get as the little old lady thwarts their plans without even trying. Eventually even Mrs.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Harry Griffith on October 24, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Years ago, before the networks realized there was a late night culture that could be exploited with mindless extreme sports and shopping channels, you could find classic British films like this one on TV in the wee hours. This film is a must-see for Anglophiles, along with School For Scoundrels, Whisky Galore, and Kind Hearts and Coronets. Star Wars fans should see this, if only to understand why Alec Guinness was able to become Obi Wan so effortlessly, his skill as an actor was already finely honed at the time of this great film. And today's film writers should study it to gain an insight into the proper way to put a real twist on the end of a film.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 7, 2003
Format: 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: 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 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.
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