The Ladykillers (2004 film)

This article is about the 2004 remake film. For the original 1955 film, see The Ladykillers.
The Ladykillers

Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Joel Coen
  • Ethan Coen
Based on The Ladykillers
by William Rose
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography Roger Deakins
Edited by Roderick Jaynes
Tom Jacobson Productions
Distributed by Touchstone Pictures
Release dates
  • March 26, 2004 (2004-03-26)
Running time
104 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million
Box office $76.7 million

The Ladykillers is a 2004 American black comedy thriller film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.[2] The Coens' screenplay was based on the 1955 British Ealing comedy film of the same name, written by William Rose.[3] The Coens produced the remake (their first), together with Tom Jacobson, Barry Sonnenfeld and Barry Josephson. It stars Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J. K. Simmons, Tzi Ma and Ryan Hurst, and marks the first time that the Coens have worked with Tom Hanks.[4] This was the first film in which Joel and Ethan Coen share both producing and directing credits; previously Joel had always been credited as director and Ethan as producer.


Mrs. Marva Munson, a strict, religious and elderly widow, meets "Professor" Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, a southern classicist and Edgar Allan Poe enthusiast who expresses interest in the room she has for rent and asks to use her root cellar for rehearsals of an early music ensemble he directs, to which she agrees. The fellow musicians in the pretend ensemble are actually a gang of criminals. The band are composed of a dim football player named Lump as the "muscle", the overconfident movie effects technician Garth Pancake as the "jack of all trades" (who suffers from IBS), the crass and sloppy Gawain McSam as their "inside man", and the Vietnamese, tough-as-nails General as their "tunneling expert" (who hides his chain smoking from the disapproving Mrs. Munson by concealing his cigarette in his mouth). The group of criminals plan to dig a tunnel through the exposed wall in the cellar in order to break into the underground vault for a nearby riverboat casino. The dirt they remove is taken out at night and tossed off a bridge onto a garbage barge as it passes below.

A series of mishaps threaten to derail their plan, including "inside man" Gawain losing his janitorial job at the casino, Mrs. Munson's cat Pickles running off with Garth's finger when he accidentally sets a plastic explosive off in his hand, and a visit from the local sheriff. Nonetheless, the group manages to break through the wall of the vault and snatch the loot. Before the group can get away, Mrs. Munson uncovers the plot and tells Dorr to return the money and go with her to church on Sunday, or face the authorities. Dorr attempts to persuade her otherwise, by claiming that the casino's insurance company will replace the money, resulting in each shareholder only losing a single penny. He also claims he will donate a full share of the stolen funds to Bob Jones University, a Bible college which Mrs. Munson admires, but she insists on her judgment.

The gang decides they have no choice but to murder her. None of them are eager to kill an old woman so they draw straws. The task falls to Gawain but he fails to go through with it after he realizes Mrs. Munson reminds him of his mother. This starts a fight between Garth and Gawain which results in Gawain being fatally shot with his own gun; the group dumps his body off the bridge onto the trash barge. Garth then attempts to steal the entire sum of money and escape with his girlfriend, "Mountain Girl," but the General kills them both with a garotte wire and discards their bodies onto the barge. After drawing lots again, the General is about to kill Mrs. Munson in her sleep, concealing his cigarette in his mouth as per usual. He is suddenly startled by a clock, accidentally swallowing his cigarette. In a frenzied search for water, The General trips over Mrs. Munson's cat and falls down the stairs to his death. As Lump and Dorr dispose of The General's body onto the barge, Lump has a change of heart and tells Dorr he wants to do what Mrs. Munson says. When Dorr refuses, Lump attempts to shoot him with a revolver but the chamber is empty; he peers down the barrel and accidentally shoots himself with the round that was in the next chamber, falling off the bridge onto the barge. Dorr, now alone, pauses to admire a passing raven and recite poetry until the raven dislodges the head of a crumbling grotesque on top of the bridge. The head falls, knocking Dorr over the railing, and his cape gets caught on the ironwork and strangles him to death. As the barge passes under the bridge, the fabric tears and he too falls onto it.

Finding the stolen money in her basement, Mrs. Munson believes that the criminals have fled and left it behind. She informs the police about the money, but they think she is insane and tell her to keep it; she decides to donate it to Bob Jones. Pickles drops Garth's severed finger onto the barge.



The film received mixed reviews, scoring a 56/100 average on Metacritic.[5] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored 55%.[6] The Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus said "Hanks' performance in the lead role is inspired, but this is a relatively minor offering from the Coen brothers."


Music From the Motion Picture: The Ladykillers
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released 23 March 2004
Genre Gospel
Hip hop
Length 61:50
Label Sony Music Soundtrax
Producer T Bone Burnett
Coen Brothers film soundtracks chronology
Intolerable Cruelty
The Ladykillers
No Country for Old Men
Professional ratings
Review scores
Music from the Movies[9]

While Carter Burwell composed the film score for The Ladykillers, continuing his long-time collaboration with the Coen Brothers, much of the soundtrack is devoted to African American gospel music. The film's executive music producer was T Bone Burnett, who had previously worked with the Coens in sourcing soundtrack music for The Big Lebowski and O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

The soundtrack does not actually contain any pieces of Renaissance music. Similar to his work on O Brother, Burnett chose a mix of vintage songs by Blind Willie Johnson, The Soul Stirrers, Swan Silvertones and Bill Landford & The Landfordaires (the 1950s group sampled by Moby on "God's Gonna Cut You Down"), along with recordings of contemporary black gospel artists, including Donnie McClurkin, Rose Stone, Bill Maxwell and church choirs, made especially for the film soundtrack. Hip hop songs by Nappy Roots and Little Brother are also featured.

The soundtrack was praised for helping to set the tone of the film, distance it from the 1955 original and complement the contemporary Southern United States setting and gospel music atmosphere.[10][11]

  1. "Come, Let Us Go Back to God" (The Soul Stirrers) – 2:50
  2. "Trouble of This World (Coming Home)" (Nappy Roots) – 3:48 (Featuring chorus by Rose Stone, Freddie Stone and Lisa Stone)
  3. "Let Your Light Shine on Me" (The Venice Four with Rose Stone and the Abbot Kinney Lighthouse Choir) – 6:43
  4. "Another Day, Another Dollar" (Nappy Roots) – 3:48
  5. "Jesus I'll Never Forget" (The Soul Stirrers) – 2:36
  6. "Trouble in, Trouble Out" (Nappy Roots) – 4:04
  7. "Trouble of This World" (Bill Landford & The Landfordaires) – 2:45 (Not featured in film)
  8. "Come, Let Us Go Back to God" (Donnie McClurkin) – 4:33
  9. "Weeping Mary" (Rosewell Sacred Harp Quartet) – 2:41
  10. "Sinners" (Little Brother) – 4:25
  11. "Troubled, Lord I'm Troubled" (Bill Landford & The Landfordaires) – 2:58
  12. "You Can't Hurry God" (Donnie McClurkin) – 2:26
  13. "Any Day Now" (The Soul Stirrers) – 2:28
  14. "Trouble of This World" (Rose Stone and the Venice Four and the Abbot Kinney Lighthouse Choir) – 2:55
  15. "A Christian's Plea" (Swan Silvertones) – 2:23
  16. "Let Your Light Shine on Me" (Blind Willie Johnson) – 3:07
  17. "Let the Light from the Lighthouse Shine on Me" (Rose Stone and the Venice Four and the Abbot Kinney Lighthouse Choir) – 1:42
  18. "Yes" (The Abbot Kinney Lighthouse Choir featuring Kristle Murden) – 5:29
Additional music


The film won the Jury Prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for Irma P. Hall's performance.[13]


  1. "THE LADYKILLERS (15)". British Board of Film Classification. April 5, 2004. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  2. "The Ladykillers 2004". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  3. "The Ladykillers 1955". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  4. "Coenesque - The Ladykillers". Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  5. Tony B. (March 26, 2004). "The Ladykillers Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  6. "The Ladykillers Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  7. link
  8. SoundtrackNet
  9. Music from the Movies
  10. Deming, Mark. "Allmovie". The Lady killers review. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  11. Phares, Heather. "Allmusic". The Lady killers review. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  12. "Music from the Motion Picture: The Ladykillers (album liner notes)". Sony. United States. 2004. CK 90896.
  13. "The Ladykillers". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved November 30, 2009.

External links

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