The Ladykillers (1955)

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Released 8-Jun-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer-2:31
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1955
Running Time 86:55
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alexander Mackendrick
Studio
Distributor
Ealing Studios
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Alec Guinness
Cecil Parker
Herbert Lom
Peter Sellers
Danny Green
Katie Johnson
Jack Warner
Philip Stainton
Frankie Howerd
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Tristram Cary


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Ladykillers is the odd-one-out among these Alec Guinness / Ealing Studios comedies. All the others are black-and-white movies in the Academy ratio (1.37:1). This one is in glorious Technicolor, and wide-screen; well, mild wide-screen — it is in the European ratio of 1.66:1.

    This film features some familiar faces in addition to Alec Guinness. It's amusing to see Herbert Lom (best known as Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the Pink Panther movies) together with Peter Sellers. Cecil Parker also appears in The Man in the White Suit.

    Alec Guinness looks rather different here — the wild hair and the prominent teeth are the most obvious part, but his manner of moving is different too. I have read that he drew inspiration for this role from a character portrayed by the wonderful Alistair Sim.

    Professor Marcus (Alec Guinness) rents a room from Mrs Wilberforce (Katie Johnson), who is a widow living in a house that has suffered from the bombing during the Second World War — it has walls at subtly wrong angles. The professor is delighted, because the house is close to the railway station, and the landlady will be perfect for his plan. He is not who he seems (the sinister music gives that away from the start!) — he is actually the mastermind behind a criminal plot. He claims to have a string quintet, but the members of the quintet don't seem too familiar with their instruments. Reading from left to right (full face and then profile) we have: Claude (Cecil Parker) calling himself Major Courtney, Harry (Peter Sellers) calling himself Mr Robinson, "One Round" (Danny Green) calling himself Mr Lawson, and Louis (Herbert Lom) calling himself Mr Harvey. This band of "desperate criminals" would probably lose a battle of wits with a chimpanzee, but they manage to pull off a daring daylight robbery on an armoured car.

    Unfortunately for their schemes, Mrs Wilberforce discovers the truth. Now they are faced with a dilemma: how do they stop her from squealing to the cops? It looks like the only solution is to kill her. But which of our desperadoes will do the deed?

    An entertaining caper comedy with a couple of very funny twists. Recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, 16x9 enhanced (which means black bars on either side, instead of top and bottom). The original theatrical aspect ratio was 1.66:1, so this is ideal. Due to overscan, the slim black bars on either side may not be visible on your display.

    The image is a bit soft, but that doesn't detract from enjoying the film. Shadow detail is fairly poor, with darker shades dropping off into black quite rapidly; this is partly the result of the rather moody lighting used, but it is also partly a function of the age of this Technicolor film. Film grain isn't really a problem, save in one or two of the darkest shots. There is no low-level noise, save for a moment at 83:11.

    Colour is a touch variable, and not too well rendered, with skin tones noticeably off in many scenes. There are no other colour-related artefacts.

    There are no significant film artefacts - even the light streak at 37:00 would normally not rate a mention. There is no aliasing worth mentioning, no moire, and no significant MPEG artefacts, save for background shimmer on a lot of the scenes. At the start of the film, immediately after the opening credits, there is a bit of telecine wobble, but this soon smoothes out and is not seen again.

    There are no subtitles. OK, there are two subtitle tracks, but I can find no way to invoke them (there are no menu commands, and changing the subtitle track by remote has been locked out).

    The disc is single-sided and single layered, so there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The only soundtrack is English, Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround-encoded. It is mono, which is appropriate, because this film was recorded in mono. It is somewhat frequency-restricted, but that doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of the movie.

    The dialogue is mostly quite clear and comprehensible, even with the mix of accents, but there are a couple of moments when a few words are obscured, particularly when there's a gaggle of old ladies in the scene. There are no obvious audio sync errors.

    The music, which is a bit bombastic and clichéd (which is deliberate, and part of the fun!), is credited to Tristram Cary. It is performed by a different orchestra this time: the Sinfonia of London, conducted by Dock Mathieson.

    This soundtrack makes no use of the surrounds or the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static, with music. It is easy to operate.

Theatrical Trailer (2:31)

    This is a beautifully over-the-top trailer with a loud voice-over. There are more than a few spoilers, so wait until after you've seen the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title was released on DVD in Region 1 last year. The Region 1 disc has a noticeably better transfer, with better colour rendering, and a slightly sharper transfer. It has some background shimmer, although I'd estimate it as a bit less that on the Region 4 disc. Its shadow detail is no better, though. The only difference in extras is that the Region 1 disc has a lengthy bio of Alec Guinness (the same content as the other discs in this series, but with a different background).

    I have to give the award of the golden whatzit to the Region 1 disc in this case — the transfer is sufficiently better to make the difference.

Summary

    An entertaining movie on a DVD that has some flaws.

    The video quality is adequate, but not wonderful.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extra is rudimentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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great fun -