The Ladykillers (1955) – Alexander Mackendrick


The recommendations from Great Movies – 100 Years of Film for Kind Hearts and Coronets continue to entertain with this film that features Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom and Peter Sellers. I`d seen the Coen Brothers remake with Tom Hanks, but had never seen the original, which is too bad, because this one was a real treat!!

Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) is a not quite eccentric old lady, who always has outlandish stories for the police, has three parrots, and a spate of rooms to let out.

This makes her the perfect, and unwilling accomplice in a heist as  conceived by Professor Marcus (Guinness in a truly horrid set of teeth), who rents out a pair of rooms in Mrs. Wilberforce`s slightly skewed home. From there, he invites the other members of his gang, posing as a classical music group to join him so that they can plan their heist. Throwing on a classical album so it sounds like they are practicing, the group composed of Marcus, Claude aka `Major Courtney`(Cecil Parker), Louis aka Mr. Harvey (Lom), Harry aka Mr. Robinson (Sellers) and One-Round aka Mr. Lawson (Danny Green) gather to lay out their plans.


Unfortunately they are constantly interrupted by this dear, well-meaning old lady who offers them tea, or needs their assistance to give one of the parrots its medication.

Constantly interrupted Louis simply wants to kill her, but the others are simply proper and polite with her. They even use her, unknowingly, to move their stolen cash from the train station back to her home!

Everything seems to be going as well as it can, until they attempt to lead, and Mrs. Wilberforce sees some of the stolen cash. Now, they are convinced they`ll have to silence her, but things go from bad to worse as in the course of attempting to off the old lady, each of them starts to meet their unfortunate demise.

I laughed a lot through this entire film, it was fun seeing the way Guinness brought out the character of Marcus, he wasn`t quite evil but the way he moves, the look he gave under his arm as he mounted the stairs, couple with the teeth, such a fun performance.

And for someone, who mostly associates Sellers with Inspector Clouseau, watching him in this was a joy!


Every character seems to have their moment, and I started to laugh every time a  train would pass under them, because I knew everything would be masked in smoke, and something bad, and no doubt hilarious, would happen to at least one of them.

Watching the trio of Lom, Guinness, and Sellers, was just a hoot, and their co-stars were brilliant, and Mrs. Wilberforce is just hilarious.

This one was yet another hidden gem, that I had heard of, but had never, ever seen, but much like a lot of titles in this book, I am filling a lot of my blind spots, and expanding my film knowledge, and discovering lots of things I may have never seen.

Next time around though, the final recommendation to go with Kind Hearts and Coronets is a nice revisit to a one of my favourite comedy films…

Have you seen this one?


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