THE LADYKILLERS (1955)

Dir. Alexander Mackendrick

It took two Americans—director Alexander Mackendrick and screenwriter William Rose—to create one of the most quintessentially British of all screen comedies. Rose claimed to have dreamed the story of five crooks who rent rooms from the elderly Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) as cover for a bank robbery only to find their efforts to bump off the old dear backfiring. Mackendrick assembled the perfect cast for what would prove to be the last great Ealing Studios comedy. Alec Guinness outdid himself as the criminal band's leader, while Peter Sellers had his first major role as one of the gang members. In addition, Sellers provided the voice of Mrs. Wilberforce's parrots. The picture also gave him his first chance to work with character actor Herbert Lom, his comic foil a decade later in the Pink Panther films. But the real star of the film was Johnson, the 77-year-old actress who had her best role ever as the eccentric landlady who's totally oblivious to the criminal doings under her roof—or is she?

In attendance: Bill Hader.

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THE LADYKILLERS
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