Sunday, May 30, 2021

Something About The Ladykillers

You get the picture.

In 1985, John Bellairs cited his favorite actor as Alec Guinness and his favorite film as – not one of Guinness's forays into a far away galaxy - The Ladykillers. This 1955 English black comedy film was directed by Alexander Mackendrick, written by William Rose, and starred Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Danny Green, and Peter Sellers as a quintet of musicians playing against the inquisitive Mrs. Wilberforce, portrayed by Katie Johnson.

Guinness is the strangely sinister Professor Marcus, who comes to town to rent a room. Others soon join him in his band – not of musicians but criminals. The job is to rob a security van at a nearby railway station, and they succeed in pulling it off – except something happens at the last minute, and Mrs. Wilberforce threatens to call the police.

It's the sweet and elegant Professor Marcus, to the rescue and trying to set things right. And really, to try and get rid of Mrs. Wilberforce through any method necessary without calling any more attention to themselves than possible. It all backfires, of course, and through a series of incidents and accidents...well, you can only guess who winds up with the money in the end.

Bellairs's longtime friend from college, Alfred Myers, recounted how he and Bellairs saw the film during their undergraduate days at Notre Dame. In fact, the film was released mere months after Bellairs and Myers met during their freshman year.

In 2004, the Coen Brothers directed an American remake starring Tom Hanks and set in Saucier, Mississippi, home of a riverboat casino. It's a more contemporary take on the premise – and with catchier music – but there's no mistaking the original.

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