Saturday, May 2, 2009

Day Ninety-Eight: The Ladykillers (1955) - Rank 3.5/5

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I decided to follow up Alec Guinness with more Alec Guinness. I've long been curious about the original "The Ladykillers" after the release of the critically-panned, Coen brothers rendition (let it be said here that I actually like and own that film...don't judge me). Seeing still photos of a wiry-haired, insidious looking Guinness as Professor Marcus sold me on seeing the film.

The plot between the original and remake are inherently the same: an elderly woman takes in an unusual professor as a lodger, and finds that he's frequently accompanied by his crew under the guise that they're a small chamber orchestra. Their true plan is to rob a payroll, but when the old woman finds out their scheme, the time comes to rub her out. Comparing the two is difficult, for each has its assets. The original features a hilarious Guinness, whereas the remake features a hilarious Tom Hanks. Irma P. Hall is stupendous as the innocent old woman in the Coen brothers version, yet Herbert Lom plays a far more sinister and unstable addition to the troupe than Marlon Wayans ever did.

In the end, I feel like the two are evenly pitted, because they both suffer from the same downfall: the plot slows at the end after the caper is committed and the gang is "had" by the old woman. The laughs seem to slow as murder attempt after murder attempt goes awry. The last ten minutes crawl when compared with the rest of the film. One would assume that the pacing might have been tweaked for the 2004 version, but it wasn't. Still, there are enough antics leading up to the ending to make it far worth your while.

Watch the Trailer

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