(Review originally written at 17 April 2010)

There is no denying it that the 1955 "The Ladykillers" is among the best known and most classic comedies, made after the silent movie period. And it's a movie that truly deserves its status.

The movie has always been a very fun and entertaining one to watch. Even though it's over 50 years old already, it doesn't feel like it has aged badly or has become outdated as a movie. The humor of the movie is simply irresistible, at any day and age.

Even though it's a star filled production it's perhaps the script that is the biggest star of the movie. It's a real fine comedy script, that is filled with the one gone wrong event after the other. The 5 criminals get themselves more and more in trouble, not because the police is hot on their tail but because they have increasing difficulties hiding their crime from old little Mrs. Wilberforce, who's house they are staying at and using as a cover for their heist. It's really great how the story is constantly progressing and building up to a point that you don't think it can get any crazier and escapable from for the 5 main criminals of the movie.

The movie could also not had worked out so great and effective without a woman playing the old lady so likable. It's a very naive little lady, who is sweet but obviously has a little screw loose as well. It was one of the last roles for the then already 77 years old Katie Johnson and it will be the roles she'll always gets remembered for. It was also the only movie role that earned her an award; the BAFTA for best British actress (yes, that actually was still a category back then).

But Katie Johnson is obviously not the biggest name in the movie. The cast list also has Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom and Peter Sellers on them, among others. It was such a great and memorable comedy role by Alec Guinness, who I think was always really in his element playing roles like this one. It were the type of comedy character roles Peter Sellers would later become well known and acclaimed for. Ironically enough he still possibly plays the least comical character within this movie. Herbert Lom still plays a more serious character but through his serious and toughness he still becomes a comical character within this screwball movie.

The movie also managed to create the right visual atmosphere. It has a bit of a surreal look over it, with the old lady's old Victorion house being located in the midst of a big building block and a railroad. In the house itself everything is awry and old and frail looking, just like the old lady herself.

The humor and comedy of the movie is more dark than anything else really. It's no slapstick and not a movie that tries to be hilarious and make you laugh constantly. The movie is more funny with it's subtle things, such as with its characters, the odd events, it's overall atmosphere and its greatly written and constructed story.

A great classic comedy, that never gets old and you never grow tired off.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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