The Ladykillers

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The Ladykillers is a 1955 British black comedy film made by Ealing Studios. Directed by Alexander Mackendrick, it stars Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner and Katie Johnson.

American William Rose wrote the screenplay, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay and won the BAFTA Award for Best British Screenplay. He claimed to have dreamt the entire film and merely had to remember the details when he awoke.

Contents

Plot

Mrs. Louisa Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) is an eccentric old widow who lives alone with her parrots in a gradually subsiding "lopsided" house in King's Cross. With nothing to occupy her time and an active imagination, she is a frequent visitor at the local police station, where she reports fanciful suspicions regarding various people she has come into contact with. Because of the wild-goose-chases she has led them on in the past, the officers in the station humour her, but give her absolutely no credence.

She is approached by a comically sinister criminal, 'Professor' Marcus (Alec Guinness), who wants to rent rooms in her house. Unbeknownst to her, he has put together a gang for a sophisticated security van robbery at the railway station: the gentlemanly con-man 'Major' Courtney (Cecil Parker), the Cockney spiv Harry Robinson (Peter Sellers), the slow-witted ex-boxer 'One-Round' Lawson (Danny Green), and the vicious continental gangster Louis Harvey (Herbert Lom). However, the Professor convinces Mrs. Wilberforce that they are an amateur string quintet using the room for rehearsal space. To maintain the deception, the gang members carry musical instruments and play a recording of Boccherini's Minuet (3rd movement) from String Quintet in E, Op. 11 No. 5 during their planning sessions.

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