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File:Ladykillers 9782.jpg

The Ladykillers is a 1955 British Black Comedy about a gang of criminals who rent a room from Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) in her lopsided house that sits above a railway tunnel. The gang consists of Herbert Lom as Louis Harvey, Danny Green as "One-Round" Lawson, Peter Sellers as Harry Robinson, Cecil Parker as "Major" Courtney and Alec Guinness as Professor Marcus. The gang attempt to commit a bullion robbery and use the house as a base, which proves harder than they think with Mrs. Wilberforce around.

The screenwriter, William Rose, who also wrote Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, claimed to have dreamed the whole film.

It was remade by The Coen Brothers in 2004, changing the base of operations to a house connected to a Mississippi riverboat's vault, and including a significant subplot about the old (now) black lady's ironic support of Bob Jones University. It also increases the violence far beyond what would have been acceptable when the original was made. Critics were particularly harsh towards this version, and it's objectively not on the same level of the brothers' earlier comedies, but it's still a watchable flick if for no other reason than to see Tom Hanks temporarily return to comedy. It shares many tropes with the classic 1955 version.


Tropes common to both versions

The 1955 film contains examples of:

Cquote1.svg

 Professor: Is he hurt? (giggles)

Louis: (deadpan) I shouldn't think he felt a thing.

Cquote2.svg

The 2004 film contains examples of:

  • Asian Store Owner: The introduction to the General shows him rather brutally foiling a hold-up in his shop.
  • Black Dude Dies First: They all fall in quick succession, but Gawain is the first to go.
  • Blatant Lies: Prof. Dorr's utterly preposterous explanation for the money scattered about the cellar. Unusual for this trope, it doesn't pass Marva Munson's smell test.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Garth loses his finger while trying to demonstrate the stability of his explosives. "You could light this stuff on fire, hit it with a hamm-" BOOM!
  • Brawn Hilda: Garth's girlfriend, Mountain Girl.
  • Catch Phrase: Garth has "Easiest thing in the world." and "Trial balloon."
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Nearly all of the film's heavy profanity issues forth form Gawain. All cursing noticeably stops after he dies.
  • Creepy Changing Portrait: The picture of Mr. Munson (though it's more of a humorous changing portrait.)
  • Dead Dog Comedy: Garth Pancake's introduction involves an amazingly botched commercial shoot.
  • Dumb Is Good: Lump. Then again, he's too dumb to even be good at being good.
  • Ice Cream Koan: When discussing what to do with Mrs. Munson.
Cquote1.svg

 Professor G.H. Dorr: (to the General) You, sir, are a Buddhist. Is there not a "middle" way?

The General: Mm. Must float like a leaf on the river of life... and kill old lady.

Cquote2.svg
  • Impairment Shot: Several in the POV montage that both introduces Lump and explains why he's so... special.
  • Potty Emergency: *grunt* "IBS!" "You be what?"
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Prof. Dorr has far more words than sense.
  • Shout-Out: Boccherini's Minuet is played at one point when the gang are having a discussion.
  • Too Dumb to Live: All Dorr has to do is leave one chamber on his revolver empty, counting on poor Lump to look down the barrel and try again when it doesn't fire the first time. Lump doesn't let him down.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Gawain.
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