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Parents' Guide to

The Ladykillers (1955)

By Stefan Pape, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Classic '50s crime comedy has dark themes, slapstick action.

Movie NR 1956 91 minutes
The Ladykillers (1955) Poster Image

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A shining light of the "Ealing comedies" -- a series of films made across the 1940s and '50s from Ealing Studios -- this 1955 crime caper remains as entertaining today as it did then. The Ladykillers follows a gloriously simple, almost stage production-like approach to storytelling, that focuses on a small group of characters, across very few settings. Due to this approach, much emphasis is placed on the screenplay and the performances, both of which are fantastic. It's easy to see why the Coen brothers deemed this a tale worth retelling with their 2004 version.

Guinness' Professor Marcus has a wicked, dastardly demeanor about him that encapsulates the tonality of the film, while conversely, Johnson is so brilliantly likable as Mrs. Wilberforce. Peter Sellers also stars in what is a stellar cast of British screen legends. Despite the comedic elements, the movie takes its plot seriously, much like the gangsters take their craft. Yet the subtle eccentricity, an inclination for nothing to go as planned, gives an almost cartoon-like feel. It's a film that is self-aware, knowingly sticking to the tropes of classic film noir, while also poking fun at them thanks to this merry band of useless criminals.

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