A gang planning a 'job' find themselves living with a little old lady, who thinks they are musicians. When the gang set out to kill Mrs Wilberforce, they run into one problem after another, and they get what they deserve. Written by
The gramophone record Louis (Mr Harvey) breaks is Hoffstetter's String Quartet in F Major, Op.3 No.5 'Andante Cantabile', which is not heard again in the film. It is not Luigi Boccherini's String Quintet in E, Op.13 No.5. See more »
Soon after this atmospheric black comedy begins, aged widow Johnson putters around her house (situated near a railyard) as an imposing shadow seems to peer at her from every window (accented by dramatic music.) When she opens the door, there stands Guinness, in one of his amusingly creepy personas. He rents a room from the lady and arranges to have his cronies come over to practice their quintet. Unfortunately, he has something else in mind and the quintet is merely a cover for a greater plan. The film has detail, wit and character to spare. Guinness (and his friends, played by legendary character actors like Sellars and Lom) are a funny, motley lot. However, the story really belongs to Johnson. Shamefully underbilled and unsung, she perfectly embodies the role at hand and is incredibly memorable in her understated sweetness and supposed vulnerability. This is a woman who looks for the best in everything and everyone and fights injustice whenever she encounters it. Johnson gives a quiet, yet towering performance and it is astonishing how disrespectful her billing is in the film and how little she's been given even in recent packaging. There is nothing wrong with Guinness's work, but this is Johnson's film. (Ironically, according to Robert Osborne, a younger actress was cast in the film, to be made up as older, because the producers felt that the sometimes demanding director would be too much for Johnson to bear. However, that actress died before filming, so Johnson was used and got on fine!) It is truly the type of film that won't be made again. (It may be RE-made, but never with the same quaint, understated style, nor with such polished actors.)
45 of 47 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?