Friday, February 24, 2006

Two Ladykillers

The Ladykillers (1955):
  • I had to stop myself thinking "That's Obi-Wan!" every time Alec Guinness had a line. What a great voice. What a great actor! He was genuinely creepy in this one.

  • Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom together, 20 years before the Pink Panther sequels. How cool is that!

  • What a delicious black comedy plot! And this plot most definitely comes from well-defined characters, ie if the characters weren't like they were, the story wouldn't happen. That's a good story.

  • Makes great use of genuine suspense. One of the best surprise endings I've ever seen - and so quick!

  • Very nice nuanced acting from all the main players - quite unusual compared to other British 50s films I've seen that come across like stage plays.
The Ladykillers (2004):
  • Brilliant remake. Just enough of the original, and just enough brand new material to make it work. For me, anyway.

  • The music was fantastic. Eerie, and suffusing the whole story with a bit more depth and spirituality than the original. While the original was just a dark comedy, this version is a cautionary moral tale of divine order triumphing over human will. Or maybe it's just that our new surround sound system made the negro spirituals sound really really good...

  • Tom Hanks is great. He plays a character who is a bad actor - the character is, not the actor playing him. That's good acting!

  • I note from IMDb's trivia that Tom Hanks deliberately didn't watch the 1955 version, so as not to be influenced by it. Good call.

  • While the 1955 version showed a fairly uniform culture in England, the 2004 version fairly went out of its way to show us a multi-cultural society - and not just black and white either, but black hip-hop (or hippity-hoppity!) and black church, and southern gospel vs. classical studies gospel (the Professor's conversations and cross-purposed misunderstandings with Murva). Very interesting and funny in a funny way.

  • Recurring imagery of the barge under the bridge, like they did with the train in 1955. Interesting that it's okay to show a body fall into a pile of garbage now, but it wasn't okay in 1955 to show a body falling into an empty train cargo carriage.

  • As well as extra spirituality, this had a whole extra dose of culture, with quotations from Shakespeare and, most notably, Poe.
All in all, both versions of Ladykillers were very satisfying film viewing experiences.


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