Posts Tagged ‘peter sellers’

This review relates to the original 1955 Ealing Comedy The Ladykillers, and not the 2005 Coen Brothers remake. In this film, Alec Guinness heads up a team of robbers who pose as musicians. He rents a room in a house owned by a sweet elderly lady, from where the robbers plan their heist. However, they have reckoned without their feisty landlady Mrs Wilberforce, who unwittingly threatens to scupper their plans…

What a very charming film this is! It’s casting is pretty much perfect – Katie Johnson, who plays Mrs Wilberforce, darn near steals the whole show, which is no mean feat when you have a cast that includes Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers and Cecil Parker! Guinness himself is perfect as the sleazy but somehow still charming ‘Professor Marcus’, and Parker and Sellers are among the excellent supporting cast. There are some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, and I found myself smiling throughout the whole film.

Interestingly, Katie Johnson was 76 when she made this film, and nearly lost out on the role as the producers thought she might be too frail to cope with the filming. They cast a younger actress in the role, but the actress died before filming began, and Johnson ended up with the role anyway. She balances her character’s shrewdness and confusion perfectly, and gives a note-perfect performance.

The film uses the power of suggestion to show when something bad is going to happen (but make no mistake, this is not a thriller; it’s played for laughs), and is very typically British (I’d be interested to see the remake purely for comparison purposes, and to see how it was adapted for an American audience). It ranks high on the British Film Institute’s Top 100 Films, and deservedly so. Well worth watching!

Year of release: 1955

Director: Alexander MacKendrick

Producers: Seth Holt, Michael Balcon

Writers: William Rose, Jimmy O’Connor

Main cast: Alec Guinness, Katie Johnson, Cecil Parker, Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Danny Green


Click here for my review of the 2012/2013 stage production.


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