Anthony's Film Review

The Ladykillers (1955)

The Ladykillers is a successful dark comedy with its clever humor and solid performances...

The Ladykillers is one of those movies that is funny because of irony. In other words, it features situations whose consequences are the opposite of what most people would expect. You think a certain thing would happen, but something totally different occurs instead, especially if it's something you don't see typically. If this is the kind of thing that makes you laugh, you owe it to yourself to see the 1955 British comedy crime film The Ladykillers.

The movie introduces a sweet old lady named Mrs. Wilberforce, played memorably by Katie Johnson (who won a BAFTA award for her performance). She is widowed and lives in a house all by herself. One day, a strange man, played by Alec Guinness, comes to the door. He introduces himself as Professor Marcus, who claims that he needs a place to stay along with four other men: Cecil Parker as Claude/Major Courtney, Herbert Lom as Louis/Mr. Harvey, Peter Sellers as Harry/Mr. Robinson, and Danny Green as One-Round/Mr. Lawson. Convincing Mrs. Wilberforce that he and his men are members of a string quintet, Marcus manages to get his band into the house.

The musical occupation, however, is only a cover. The five men are actually bank robbers, planning a heist without Mrs. Wilberforce's knowledge. In fact, the men play a record of violin music to fool Mrs. Wilberforce into thinking that they are rehearsing music in their room. However (and this is funny), this doesn't stop Mrs. Wilberforce from knocking on their door just to offer some coffee or tea. Whenever this happens, the men have to stop the record player and hold up string musical instruments before opening the door. Just seeing this can be enough to generate a chuckle.

Soon, the five men carry out their robbery of an armored truck, successfully taking the money within. In an unexpected and confusing set of circumstances, including the presence of Mrs. Wilberforce, the stolen money winds up back at Mrs. Wilberforce's house. The men manage to get to the house and are ready to leave with the money, as if their stay at the house is no longer required. However (and this is funny), one of the men accidentally spills a ton of money in front of Mrs. Wilberforce's eyes. Now the old lady is a witness.

The last part of the movie centers on what is supposed to be a simple task: kill the old lady. That's all they have to do. However (and this is funny), it doesn't go as planned. Because the events leading up to the ending are just too clever, I won't speak much about it. Let's just say that you'll be delighted about what little Mrs. Wilberforce does overall. With that, I am done. The Ladykillers is funny because of irony, but it's more than that. The Ladykillers is funny because of its intelligent screenplay and talented cast.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about The Ladykillers, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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