(Gerry Furth-Sides) THE LADYKILLERS, is one of those films that just sneaks up on you and becomes a favorite. The British Film Institute ranked The Ladykillers as the 13th greatest British film of all time (appropriately, given the darkness of its humor). And it is also known as the film noir comedy that you remember in black and white although it has always been in color
Sir Alex Guiness is his best as the mastermind behind a heist the gang plans in disguise as musicians, and the film introduces Peter Sellers. But it is Katie Johnson in her first roll as Mrs. Wilberforce, the “sweet little old lady” who steals the show and outsmarts everyone in the end to get the money. And movie awards to go along with it.
Watching it on the small screen is always a treat, and now the 1955 comedy/heist masterpiece from Britain’s famed Ealing Studios, starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers (in his first major film role), returns to the big screen.
The stunning 4K restoration made from the original 3-strip Technicolor camera negatives opens Friday, July 2 in the Los Angeles area at Laemmle’s Royal, Playhouse and Town Center. This restoration is not available on virtual cinema or any other platform.
The gang comprised of Herbert Lom (Inspector Dreyfus of the Pink Panther movies), Cecil Parker (The Lady Vanishes), Danny Green and, as a “Teddy Boy,” a very young Peter Sellers. The five pose as a string “quartet” (math not being their strong suit) at sweet old lady Katie Johnson’s ramshackle house (a victim of WWII bombings in the vicinity), while they plan a payroll heist. But when their caper is unwittingly foiled by the old lady, they decide to do her in, but prove no match for her dulcet (and unwitting) cunning.
The Ladykillers earned the BAFTAs Best British Film of the year, while 76-year-old Johnson would win its award for Best Actress. The apogee of the classic “Ealing comedy,” this would also be Guinness’ penultimate film for the studio, where he soared to international acclaim with such hits as Kind Hearts and Coronets (in which he played nine roles), The Lavender Hill Mob, The Captain’s Paradise, and Mackendrick’s The Man in The White Suit. Two years later, American-Scottish director Mackendrick would make the acerbic classic Sweet Smell of Success, while American screenwriter William Rose (Oscar nominated for his Ladykillers story) would go on to write It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.
The last British film shot in the 3-strip Technicolor process, The Ladykillers has been restored by Studiocanal from the original 3-strip Technicolor camera negative. The new restoration showcases the movie’s color cinematography, costumes and production design – as they haven’t been seen in over 65 years.
Rialto was founded in 1997 by Bruce Goldstein, who was joined a year later by partner Adrienne Halpern. In 2002, Eric Di Bernardo became the company’s National Sales Director. Looking at their library list makes you want to spend as much time as it takes to go through each and every one.
Rialto’s past releases include Renoir’s Grand Illusion, both in 1999 and in a new 4K restoration for its 75th anniversary in 2012; Carol Reed’s The Third Man; Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria (for the first time in its “director’s cut”); Jules Dassin’s Rififi; Godard’s Breathless, Contempt, Band of Outsiders, Masculine Feminine, Le Petit Soldat, Alphaville, and the U.S. premiere of his Made in U.S.A.; Kurosawa’s Ran; Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie; Jacques Becker’s Touchez pas au Grisbi; Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar and Diary of a Country Priest; Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad; the U.S. premiere of the original, uncut Japanese version of Godzilla; the U.S. premiere of the complete, uncut version of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge; the U.S. premiere of Melville’s Army of Shadows, which became the most critically-acclaimed film of 2006; the U.S. premiere of Claude Sautet’s Max et les Ferrailleurs; and Robin Hardy’s definitive cut of The Wicker Man.