Directed by Alexander Mackendrick and starring Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner and Katie Johnson with a screenplay written by William Rose.
The plot is simple enough: an especially unpleasant criminal Professor Marcus (Guinness) rents a room in the rundown King's Cross house of a bewilderingly innocent old lady, Mrs. Wilberforce (Johnson), who lives alone with her parrot. From that room the Professor and his gang of curious characters plot a sophisticated train robbery, while convincing Mrs. Wilberforce, by playing records, that they are in fact musicians using the room for rehearsal space. After the successful robbery the gang falls apart in a series of double-crosses executed under the cover of passing trains, through which a targeted Mrs. Wilberforce wanders untouched.
Frankie Howerd has a cameo as a fruit seller.
The Alec Guinness role was originally written for Alastair Sim, and in fact Guinness's performance appears to be a very good Alastair Sim impersonation.
A radio adaptation of the film was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on January 13, 1996.