Mackendrick and Ealing's resident American writer William Rose had already collaborated on The Maggie when they came together again for this, the last, most enduring and best known of all the studio's comedies, in which the sheer blackness of the central concept is barely disguised by the accomplished farce which surrounds it. Little Katie Johnson, the innocent hostess to a gang who find it easier to silence each other than her, proves resistant to science (Guinness' fanged 'Professor'), strategy (Parker's 'Major') and all shades of brute force and ignorance as she unwittingly foils a criminal getaway that never reaches beyond St Pancras. A finely wrought image of terminal stasis, national, political (Charles Barr suggests the gang as the first post-war Labour government), and/or creative (the house as Ealing, Johnson as Balcon??). Whatever, Mackendrick immediately upped for America and the equally dark ironies of Sweet Smell of Success. PT.