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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.
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
- Anyone Can Die
- British Teeth: Professors Marcus', which are thankfully not Guiness' natural chompers. Ditto for Tom Hanks as Prof. Dorr.
- Cassandra Truth: When Mrs. Wilberforce[/]Mrs. Munson tries to return the money, the cops just don't believe her and tell her to keep it.
- The Convenient Store Next Door: Not a store, but close enough.
- Murder Is the Best Solution
- A Simple Plan
- Stupid Crooks
The 1955 film contains examples of:
- Armed Blag
- Ax Crazy
- Berserk Button: Marcus tends to flip when called 'crazy'. This is usually accompanied by an over-the-top crescendo of epic proportions from the score, and tell-tale looks of expectant horror on the faces of the gang. Luckily, something usually happens to interrupt Marcus.
- Don't call One-Round stupid.
- Bizarrchitecture: A mild sort-- the house's foundation has subsided due to bombing during the London Blitz. Pictures never hang right, and it seems to have screwed up the grandfather clock too.
- British Coppers: Played by Jack Warner, the ultimate friendly British P.C.
- Classical Music: The gang pose as a string quintet.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Mrs Wilberforce
- Driver of a Black Cab: Mrs. Wilberforce accidentally drives one out of business.
- The Edwardian Era: The good old days for Mrs. Wilberforce.
- The Fifties: But in that that extremely unglamorous British way.
- Five-Bad Band
- Gentle Giant: "One-Round" Lawson.
- Leitmotif: Boccherini's Minuet, which the gang pretend to play.
- London Gangster: Not the most extreme example, but definitely one of the most eccentric.
- Never Mess with Granny: Even grocers and cabbies aren't safe from the unintentional wrath of Mrs. Wilberforce.
- No One Is Indispensable: Professor Marcus says this to Louis, very truly.
- Nostalgia Filter: Mrs. Wilberforce
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Nothing at all...
- Pet the Dog: One Round and Mrs. Wilberforce.
- Pirate Parrot: "Squawk! Swab the deck!"
- Queen Vicky: Mrs. Wilberforce mentions that she received the news of the queen's death at her twenty-first birthday party.
- Scarf of Asskicking: Professor Marcus is a very subtle example of this trope.
- Shout-Out: The picture of Captain Wilberforce is Admiral Lord Horatio D'Ascoyne from Kind Hearts and Coronets.
- Slasher Smile: Professor Marcus.
- Giggling Villain: After Major Courtney's fall from the roof:
Professor: Is he hurt? (giggles)
Louis: (deadpan) I shouldn't think he felt a thing.
- Smoking Is Cool: After all it is The Fifties.
- Spot of Tea: Mrs. Wilberforce interrupts the gang with offers of the drink and has elderly friends over for lashings of the stuff.
- Star-Making Role: For Sellers, in Britain at least.
- Ten Little Murder Victims: Purely by accident.
- Wicked Cultured: Professor Marcus.
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: What could?
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.
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.
- 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.