THE LADYKILLERS
1955, Rialto Pictures, 91 min, UK, Dir: Alexander Mackendrick

Among the last of the great Ealing Studios comedies, and one of the few shot in color, this delightful film stars Alec Guinness as Professor Marcus, a musician who rents a room from a widow (Katie Johnson) to use as a rehearsal space. At least that’s what he tells her; Marcus and his “string quartet” (which includes Peter Sellers and his future PINK PANTHER nemesis, Herbert Lom) are actually criminals plotting a robbery. When the old lady finally realizes the truth, the gang decides to kill her - but that’s easier said than done.


MURDER BY DEATH
1976, Sony Repertory (Columbia), 94 min, USA, Dir: Robert Moore

Eccentric millionaire Truman Capote invites six of the world’s greatest detectives to his mansion for “dinner and a murder.” When the sleuths (Peter Sellers, David Niven, Maggie Smith, James Coco, Peter Falk and Elsa Lanchester) arrive and discover that the host is the apparent victim, they attempt to solve the puzzle and survive the evening themselves. Neil Simon’s dazzling script parodies virtually all the conventions of the murder mystery while throwing in enough red herrings to keep the audience guessing until the very end. With Alec Guinness.


THE PARTY
1968, MGM Repertory, 99 min, Dir: Blake Edwards

For most of its length, THE PARTY is a wonderfully restrained homage to Jacques Tati, with Peter Sellers in perfect pitch as an awestruck Indian actor who disrupts a chic Hollywood gathering with the help of French songbird Claudine Longet and an elephant. The final 15 minutes prove that any great joke deserves a totally outrageous punchline. Look for Steve Franken as an inebriated waiter and Denny Miller as a hilarious rhinestone cowboy


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