The Ladykillers

Screening on Film
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick.
With Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom.
UK, 1955, 35mm, color, 97 min.
Print source: HFA

S is for Simply Sellers

In this classic ealing comedy, Alec Guinness (with ample help from his prominent teeth) leads a terrific ensemble cast, including a young Peter Sellers in one of his earliest roles. Set amid the dilapidation of postwar London, the story centers on five criminals masquerading as a string ensemble intent on using their aged landlady as an unwitting accomplice in their robbery. The gentle yet stubborn innocence of Mrs. Wilberforce confounds the plot of the criminal gang, and one by one, the robbers fail to do away with her and instead knock each other off. The film crystallizes the standard of charm and humor for which Ealing Studios was known but is perhaps the darkest of the studio’s many comedies. Sellers, as the young rogue of the gang, plays opposite Herbert Lom, whom he would later torment throughout the Pink Panther series.

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Cinema A–Z: Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive