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- Language : English
- Package Dimensions : 17.1 x 13.5 x 1.4 cm; 100 Grams
- Director : Alexander MacKendrick
- Media Format : PAL
- Run time : 1 hour and 27 minutes
- Release date : 24 March 2021
- Actors : Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green
- Subtitles: : German
- Studio : StudioCanal
- Producers : Michael Balcon
- ASIN : B08QRYT2CZ
- Country of origin : Australia
- Writers : William Rose
- Customer Reviews:
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Follow a group of small-time crooks, taking on more than they can handle in the form of their sweet elderly landlord, Mrs Wilberforce (Katie Johnson). The criminal gang, posing as a string quartet, are unprepared for their landlord's meddling when one of the 'musicians' cases gets caught in a door, revealing the group's true identity.
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‘The Ladykillers’ was the last major comedy produced by the prolific and iconic British film studios, Ealing. It is also one of the best, and like all their top comedies, it has a strong but simple plot, and first class characterisation. Alec Guiness, who graces many of Ealing’s finest offerings, is on excellent form as the creepy and sinister Professor Marcus. He is superbly supported by an eccentric gang of inept villains, including Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom and Peter Sellers. Jack Warner plays the local Police Superintendent with his usual authority, and Katie Johnson, in reality in her late 70s, plays Marcus’s genteel landlady, Mrs Louisa Wilberforce. For her delicious performance as the dotty and naive nemesis of the gang, she won the BAFTA for Best Actress.
The action takes place in Central London, around King’s Cross and St Pancras stations. We see stunning views of a London long changed beyond recognition. It is beautifully shot, with some wonderful chase sequences, and great use made of steam trains, railway stations and a wide range of vehicles from London cabs to horse-drawn dreys.
The humour is very British, and especially as the film progresses, increasingly black. The director, Alexander Mackendrick, takes no prisoners. The villains become increasingly frustrated and desperate, but in the end, virtue wins the day. Hurrah!
But it isn't always the case - and although 1955's 'The Ladykillers' has a stellar cast and top flight director, the writer is really the main creative contributor here. This is not to discount the role of Alexander McKendrick as director or cast members Peter Sellers, Katie Johnson, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom or Alec Guinness. Far from it. But whilst it is possible to envisage alternative cast and directors bringing the script to the screen, without William Rose's script, it's impossible to conceive of any alternative script doing justice to that assembled talent.
First off, his 'Ladykillers' script was nominated for an Academy Award and won a BAFTA. He always said that the idea came to him in a dream - my kind of writer! William Rose had serious previous. He won an Academy Award for his script for 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' directed by Stanley Kramer and starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katherine Hepburn. He had also previously written an Academy Award-nominated script for 'Genevieve' and would go on to write the script for the exquisite 'The Smallest Show on Earth', plus one of my all time favourites, the vast and sprawling comedy epic, 'It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World'.
Although an American, William Rose spent a good deal of his time in England, and married an English woman. It is very apparent from 'The Ladykillers' that he understood what it was to write an Ealing Comedy just as much as any native writer of those comedies and that above and beyond that, he had a detailed knowledge of London. The plot of 'The Ladykillers' is very much dependent on the geography of where the heist is planned, where it takes place and its immediate aftermath - the old lady's lopsided house precariously balancing above the entrance to a railway tunnel, the grandeur of the backdrop of St Pancras railway station and Kings Cross railway station where the heist actually takes place. Indeed, a cottage industry has sprung up around discussing the shooting locations, partly inspired by the fascinating area of London in which he sets his comedy.
Next, it is William Rose's characters that hold our attention. Katie Johnson's eccentric old lady, Cecil Parker's gentleman con artist, Peter Seller's cockney spiv, Herbert Lom's euro gangster and Alec Guinness' sinister old professor.
And above all, it is William Rose's skill in connecting his clever plot, fascinating characters and interesting locations that singles 'The Ladykillers' out as an exceptional, perhaps the most exceptional of all of the Ealing Comedies. Maybe the film's greatest compliments are paid to it by all of its imitators and adaptors - there have been several stage adaptations, a couple of radio adaptions and a 2004 Coen Brothers film remake starring Tom Hanks. But William Rose's 1955 film version rules supreme. And earns a comfortable 5 stars from me.
the bluray version is not good out of vocus quality, im giving this to a charity shop, as its only in 4,3 square picture,
but the 4k is great as it allows you to choose 2 viewing options one in 4.3 and the 2nd in full screen,
which is great, i never had the option to do this on any film before,