Run time: 92 mins
One of the last Ealing comedies of the 1950s, Alexander Mackendrick’s deliciously dark crime caper celebrates its 65th birthday.
Mrs. Wilberforce, an old lady living alone in a tumbledown house near King’s Cross, decides to take in a lodger. The eccentric Professor Marcus soon arrives and is frequently visited by four sinister friends. Under the pretence of amateur musicians, the group are in fact planning a daring robbery in which Mrs. Wilberforce and her home are to be unwittingly involved. When the stolen money is discovered, the gang are faced with only one option; the old girl’s got to go. But as the bumbling crooks wind up double-crossing each other, their numbers slowly reduce one by one.
Alec Guinness delivers a typically mesmerising performance as Professor Marcus alongside the likes of Peter Sellers, Cecil Parker and the superb Katie Johnson.
Wickedly hilarious and a precise balance of situational comedy and stark murderous callousness, it’s a treat. If you’ve seen it before, make sure you see it again on the big screen. And if you’ve never seen it before, you owe it to yourself to see one of the British film industry’s true greats. (Research Chris Coetsee)