Watch: The Ladykillers 1955 123movies, Full Movie Online – A gang planning a ‘job’ find themselves living with a little old lady, who thinks they are musicians. When the gang set out to kill Mrs Wilberforce, they run into one problem after another, and they get what they deserve..
Plot: Five oddball criminals planning a bank robbery rent rooms on a cul-de-sac from an octogenarian widow under the pretext that they are classical musicians.
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|7.6/10 Votes: 29,580
|100% | RottenTomatoes
|91/100 | MetaCritic
|N/A Votes: 377 Popularity: 9.382 | TMDB
The Series Finishes on a High Note
This was the second Ealing Comedy to be made in colour. It is, however, very different in tone- both literally and metaphorically- to the only other colour film in the series, “The Titfield Thunderbolt”. That was a bright, sunlit and cheerful comedy set against a verdant English countryside. “The Ladykillers”, by contrast, is an urban black comedy characterised by muted colours. The setting is the area around Kings Cross and St Pancras stations in North London, which at this time appears to have been an area of genteel poverty, of once-elegant Victorian mansions which had become very run-down. The mid-fifties were the period in modern British history when the austerity of the immediate post-war years (depicted in some of the earlier Ealing comedies such as “Passport to Pimlico” and “The Lavender Hill Mob”) was giving way to the hedonistic, never-had-it-so-good era of the late fifties and early sixties, although some pockets of poverty remained. One thing the two films have in common is that railways play an important part in both.
The central character is Mrs Louisa Wilberforce, the elderly widow of a sea-captain, who lives in one of these ramshackle mansions, still furnished in the late Victorian/Edwardian style of her youth, down to the aspidistra and the sepia photographs on the walls. We learn that Mrs Wilberforce celebrated her twenty-first birthday on the day Queen Victoria died in January 1901, which means that she must be 75 years old in 1955 (not 87 as another reviewer stated). She dresses in what was, at least in comedies and cartoons (think of Giles’s Grandma), regarded as the uniform of the old lady in the fifties and sixties- long dress, broad-brimmed flowery hat and an umbrella even in fine weather.
Mrs Wilberforce has a lodger, a Professor Marcus, who is a keen musician and regularly invites his friends round to perform in a string quintet. At least, that is what she believes. In reality, Marcus and his friends are a gang of robbers who are planning a raid on a security van and use their musical evenings as a front for their criminal activities. There are similarities to “The Lavender Hill Mob”, which also starred Alec Guinness as an outwardly-respectable citizen who planned a daring robbery. The plan goes ahead, apparently successfully, although there are farcical moments when Mrs Wilberforce who is unwittingly helping the gang by bringing the stolen loot home in a taxi, inadvertently threatens them with disaster by returning to recover her mislaid umbrella and stopping to berate a market trader (Frankie Howerd in an early film appearance) whom she believes is mistreating a horse.
Eventually, disaster does strike. The gang’s muscleman, the brainless One-Round, accidentally shows the stolen money to Mrs Wilberforce, and when she sees a newspaper headline about the crime she realises the true identity of the men. At this point, about halfway through the film, it changes from farce to black comedy. The term “ladykiller” in colloquial English normally means a handsome, charming man who is a practised seducer. In this film, however, the term is used absolutely literally; the men involved have in mind not seduction but murder.
Unlike most of the other Ealing comedies, “The Ladykillers” does not deal with the theme of the little man against the system. It deals, in a detached, ironic way, with the theme that crime does not pay. In a twist that owes something to Chaucer’s “Pardoner’s Tale”, the agents of retribution are not the police or the courts, but the criminals themselves. The gang decide that the only way to avoid detection is to murder the old lady, but owing to disagreements about how, and by whom, this is to be done and about the division of the proceeds of their crime, they end up killing each other, leaving her unscathed. If the early part of the film recalled “The Lavender Hill Mob”, the second half is closer to “Kind Hearts and Coronets”, another black Ealing comedy which treated murder as a subject for grim amusement.
The success of this film is due to two factors. It has a sardonically witty script and it is superbly acted. The gang members are all individualised- Alec Guinness’s toothy, seedily respectable Marcus, a man who seems menacing even when he is oozing an oily civility, Cecil Parker’s cowardly bogus Major, Danny Green’s One-Round (a man who, for all his stupidity, retains a certain basic decency), Peter Sellers’s Cockney wide-boy and Herbert Lom’s sinister, pitiless Louis. (Sellers and Lom were later to be reunited in the “Pink Panther” films). The real star, however, is Katie Johnson’s loveably dotty old lady, eccentric but possessed of an innocent goodness. (Johnson was 77 when the film was made, and had only another two years to live).
“The Ladykillers” was the last of the Ealing comedies, but it is one of the best and meant that the series finished on a high note. (In my view only “Passport to Pimlico” and “Kind Hearts” are better). The British film industry would never again see a comedy series of this quality, and would not see any individual film comedies to compare until the Pythons started turning their attention to the cinema in the late seventies and eighties. 9/10
Original Language en
Runtime 1 hr 31 min (91 min)
Rated Not Rated
Genre Comedy, Crime
Director Alexander Mackendrick
Writer William Rose, Jimmy O’Connor
Actors Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Cecil Parker
Country United Kingdom
Awards Nominated for 1 Oscar. 2 wins & 4 nominations total
Production Company N/A
Sound Mix Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Aspect Ratio 1.37 : 1 (original & intented ratio/open matte) (theatrical release) (director specification), 1.66 : 1 (matted) (European alternative theatrical ratio), 1.75 : 1 (matted) (American theatrical ratio)
Camera Technicolor Three-Strip Camera (Last Film in England to use Technicolor three-strip camera)
Laboratory Technicolor, London, UK (colour)
Film Length N/A
Negative Format 35 mm
Cinematographic Process Spherical
Printed Film Format 35 mm (Technicolor Dye Transfer prints), 35 mm