The Ladykillers (1955/2004)


D: Alexander Mackendrick
Ealing (Michael Balcon)
UK 1955
97 mins
W: William Rose
DP: Otto Heller
Ed: Jack Harris
Mus: Tristram Cary
Alec Guinness (Professor Marcus), Katie Johnson (Mrs. Wilburforce), Peter Sellers (Mr. Robinson), Cecil Parker (Maj. Courtney), Herbert Lom (Mr. Harvey) Danny Green (Mr. Lawson)
In this classic Ealing comedy, sinister-looking music professor Alec Guinness rents a room in sweet old lady Katie Johnson's house, informing her that some of his musician buddies may stop by from time to time. His real intentions are as sinister as his appearance however, as it emerges he and his friends can't play a note of music, and are using the sweet old lady unwittingly in a heist, and then plan to do away with her when she becomes a witness, which is easier said than done.
When they say "They don't make 'em like they used to", Ealing Comedies always spring to mind. Brilliantly written, directed and performed crime capers with an underlying message that "crime doesn't pay". The Ladykillers is amongst the London studio's very best.

Alec Guinness & Katie Johnson in The Ladykillers
Alec Guinness & Katie Johnson in The Ladykillers

D: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Touchstone (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Tom Jacobson & Barry Sonnenfeld)
US 2004
104 mins


W: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen [based on the screenplay by William Rose]
DP: Roger Deakins
Ed: Roderick Jaynes
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: Dennis Gassner

Tom Hanks (Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr), Irma P. Hall (Marva Munson), Marlon Wayans (Gawain MacSam), J.K. Simmons (Garth Pancake), Tzi Ma (The General)

A rare off day at the office from the Coen Brothers, as they attempt and fail to remake an absolute classic.
The story varies slightly from the original Ealing comedy, updated for modern times and changing the way the crooks plan to carry out their crimes.
The performances aren't terrible but Tom Hanks simply can't match Alec Guinness' cunning brilliance in the 1950's version. 
Irma P. Hall steals the film as the old lady whose house is used for criminal means, but the film is pretty much a failure in all departments.

The cast of The Ladykillers
The cast of The Ladykillers