Five diverse oddball criminal types planning a bank robbery rent rooms on a cul-de-sac from an octogenarian widow under the pretext that they are classical musicians.


(story and screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Cecil Parker ...
Claude (a.k.a. 'Major Courtney')
Louis (a.k.a. 'Mr. Harvey')
Danny Green ...
Jack Warner ...
The Superintendent
Philip Stainton ...
The Sergeant
The Barrow Boy


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 Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Who was that lady I saw you outwit last night? That was no lady...That was 'Mum' Wilberforce, a lovely old doll, well known to the police, and landlady to the shadiest bunch of characters in London! See more »


Comedy | Crime


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 February 1956 (Belgium)  »

Also Known As:

The Lady Killers  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)


(colour) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Because Katie Johnson (who played the old lady) was already 76 when she got the role, director Alan Mackendrick went to the distributor and asked if her name could be prominently above the title, saying that "The Ladykillers" might be her last film. The distributor agreed. Two years later Johnson died, she only made one more film. See more »


Before Louis cuts the matches on the base of the ashtray, you can already see practice cuts on it. See more »


Mrs. Louisa Wilberforce: Professor, I must give you back your ten shillings. You see, the cabber wouldn't take any money, because he said he was going into some other business.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, roses are shown, to highlight the fact that William Rose wrote the screenplay. See more »


Spoofed in Darkwing Duck: Adopt-a-Con (1991) See more »


Minuet in E major
Written by Luigi Boccherini, arranged for string ensemble
[playing on the phonograph whenever the robbers are pretending to be practicing]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A golden classic of British comedy cinema.
24 March 2000 | by (London) – See all my reviews

When film studios are churning out rubbish like 'The Full Monty' and 'American Pie' under the heading of comedy, you have to wonder what sort of brainless morons are filling cinemas with laughter. It is nothing short of tragic that gargantuan amounts of cash are being expended on useless blow-outs like Titanic,Star Wars- The Phantom Menace, and just lately, The Beach. When Ealing Studios ceased production, the cinema world was suddenly very much poorer.

The Ladykillers is undoubtedly one of the finest comedies ever made, certainly the best Ealing film of them all. Here is a film from the golden age of British cinema that will forever amuse and entertain. It is easy to be nostalgic about these old films but they are still held in high regard for a good reason-they were made by people who knew the art of film making. Moreover, they were made at a time when a trip to the cinema was still a special occasion. So they were made with love and care and with respect for the audience.

The Ladykillers is unusual for an Ealing comedy, being made in colour. It would have worked just as well in black and white, possibly even etter.( I have watched it in black and white on TV by turning the colour controls off!) The location shots, which were done around the back of King's Cross station in London, capture forever something of the old London I used to know as a child.

I suppose they best description for this film is a comedy of a bank robbery gone wrong. The ensemble acting is of the highest order; Katie Johnson as Mrs. Wilberforce just about steals the film from Alec Guinness. The hilarious script leaves you wanting more, even though a lot of the comedy is based on sight gags; the extended scene when the supposed 'musicians' come downstairs one by one while the Boccherini Quintet continues playing is wonderful, as are the moments involving General Gordon the parrot. The cinematography is beautifully realised and so British.

Having read all of the comments on this film, I was suprised that so many American film lovers liked this film - British comedy like this doesn't usually travel well across the water. So a sincere big thank you to all of you guys over there who commented favourably on The Ladykillers.

I don't think that we will ever see the return of institutions like Ealing Studios again, so The Ladykillers should be watched, enjoyed and loved by generations of film lovers to come.

100 of 111 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Weird cut in the film... JamesTCT
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