Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Peter Sellers, Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom
THE LADYKILLERS (1955). Director: Alexander Mac|kendrick.

Professor Marcus (Alec Guinness of The Swan) heads a group of motley individuals who are planning a heist. Without her knowledge, his temporary landlady, Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson), who thinks Marcus and his friends are musicians, is made a pivotal part of the plot. When she discovers the truth, the gang may have a bit of a problem on their hands, but which among them wants to "take care" of an old lady? The Ladykillers is an arresting and very strange movie that could easily have been played perfectly straight, but instead is a very black comedy that illustrates the theme of Thieves Falling Out. Johnson is wonderful as the sometimes dithery, annoying but strong-willed Mrs. Wilberforce, and there are fine performances from Guinness; Herbert Lom [Mark of the Devil] as Louie, the nastiest of the bunch; Peter Sellers as Harry; Cecil Parker as Major Courtney; and Danny Green as the hulking "One-Round." It's amazing how the film is able to take murderous threats and actual killings and make everything so oddly amusing. Sellers, who one would not necessarily take for a budding major movie star, later appeared with Herbert Lom in a whole slew of Pink Panther movies.

Verdict: Decidedly unusual caper film. ***.


angelman66 said...

This is a great one, what a cast, need to see this again. No wonder Lom and Sellers had such great chemistry in the Pink Panther series, they had appeared together first in this sparkling comedy.
- C

William said...

If I recall from the bios I read Lom and Sellers also got along great on the set of their movies together.

Neil A Russell said...

I've always loved this film. I first encountered it when PBS ran an Alec Guiness film festival and showed it along with "The Lavender Hill Mob", "The Man in the White Suit" and a couple of others.
I'm going to have to look for it to watch again as it's been many years since I've seen it, I hope I won't be disappointed.
I've had a few movies that I've watched years later that I thought were terrific and then discovered that I apparently liked the idea of the film far better than the film itself! LOL
One of the odd things about the film that I remember was the bizarre makeup that Guiness wore that made him look more like Alistair Sim!

William said...

Neil, that's just what I was thinking when I watched the movie, that Guinness reminded me of Sim, who often made himself up to look bizarre or even played a woman in some movies. In this Guinness has very odd teeth and hair.

I think we've all watched movies that we loved years later and either have the same exact reaction or wonder what the hell we were thinking back then. Hope you still enjoy this one!