The Ladykillers (1955)

Directed by Alexander MacKendrick

The fifth of the five movies in the Alec Guinness Collection is The Ladykillers and like the others it’s funny though it has a few differences. The most obvious is that it’s in colour and widescreen.

But the most striking aspect of the film is the look of Alec Guinness. With the help of false teeth, he looks absolutely debauched and seedy.

His character is the mastermind of a robbery. His plan is to use the home of a sweet old lady as a hideout from which to plan and execute his crime and getaway.

The complication is the little old lady who, completely innocent, fouls up their plans at every turn. The result is a great comedy.

One of the other ways in which The Ladykillers differs from the other films is in Alec Guinness’s character of Professor Marcus. In the other films in the collection, he generally plays a small, middle-class British man, someone who appears unremarkable and quiet, and living a fantasy life of some kind. Or at least somewhat innocently unaware of the real world and consequences.

In The Ladykillers, he is clearly a criminal and completely aware of what he is and what he is doing. There is no innocence to this character. Rather, it is the old woman who takes on this role. But as with the other films, it is the innocent character who is the catalyst for all the comedy.

While probably my least favourite if the films in the collection, this movie is still a wonderful comedy with a wicked, satirical element running through it. And as with the other films, Alec Guinness is nothing less than superb in his performance.

(Also notable – this is the first film Peter Sellers appeared in. The movie also features Herbert Lom who would later work with Sellers in the Pink Panther movies as the police commissioner.)

The Alec Guinness Collection:

  • Kind Hearts & Coronets
  • Lavender Hill Mob
  • The Man in the White Suit
  • The Captain’s Paradise
  • The Ladykillers

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