Lavender Hill Mob

Lavender Hill Mob

Director: Charles Crichton

Cast: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James

     
 

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Charles Crichton directed this Ealing caper comedy, with a witty script by T.E.B. Clarke that won an Academy Award. Alec Guinness is Henry Holland, an unassuming transporter of gold bullion who, after working for twenty years with no rewards in sight for his faithful service to his company, decides to reward himself by stealing one million pounds worth of gold.

Overview

Charles Crichton directed this Ealing caper comedy, with a witty script by T.E.B. Clarke that won an Academy Award. Alec Guinness is Henry Holland, an unassuming transporter of gold bullion who, after working for twenty years with no rewards in sight for his faithful service to his company, decides to reward himself by stealing one million pounds worth of gold. Calling on his old friend Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway), a manufacturer of paperweights and an amateur sculptor, and a couple of Cockney crooks, Lackery (Sidney James) and Shorty (Alfie Bass), they conspire to lift a gold shipment. After absconding with the gold, Henry melts the gold into a collection of souvenir Eiffel Towers, which he then ships off to Paris. But chaos reigns when a group of English schoolgirls purchase the gold towers, and the gang now become embroiled in a wild goose chase to recover their stolen gold.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
A 1951 comedy classic from Britain's famed Ealing Studios, The Lavender Hill Mob benefits from droll scripting (by T.E.B. Clarke, who won an Oscar for his screenplay), airy direction (by A Fish Called Wanda's Charles Crichton) and, most of all, the delightfully eccentric performance of Alec Guinness. A classically trained actor with extensive stage experience, Guinness seemed very much at home in the madcap Ealing comedies. Here he plays timid bank clerk Henry Holland, who hatches a scheme for stealing the gold bullion he regularly escorts from refineries to vaults. With the help of a somewhat gormless friend (Stanley Holloway) and two Cockney crooks (Sidney James and Alfie Bass), Henry grabs a cool million in bullion -- which gets melted down, cast into small souvenir replicas of the Eiffel Tower, and shipped to France! Clarke's script abounds with complications and climaxes with a hilarious, masterfully choreographed chase sequence. Crichton is at the top of his game, whisking Guinness and company from one improbable situation to the next and wringing every drop of humor from each. The roles are perfectly cast, and the acting is uniformly excellent (by the way, look closely and you'll spot a young Audrey Hepburn in the opening sequence). This kind of character-driven comedy, sadly, has all but vanished from today's movies, but Lavender Hill Mob is a glorious reminder of an earlier, much funnier era. It also represents a tour de force for Guinness, an accomplished comic actor whose early screen triumphs have been ignored in the wake of his success as Star Wars' Obi-Wan Kenobi. The DVD includes a Guinness biography and the film's theatrical trailer as supplemental features.
All Movie Guide
The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers can almost serve as companion pieces to each other. Both are hilarious British caper comedies of the 1950s, but both also feature astonishingly different central performances from Alec Guinness. While in The Ladykillers Guinness is a fiendish crook whose criminality is evident from his first appearance, in The Lavender Hill Mob he is a mousy milquetoast named Holland, the unlikeliest of thieves who uses the trust that others place in him to set his plan into motion. Guinness' delightful performance as Holland earned him his first Oscar nomination, and he is supported by a fun cast that includes Stanley Holloway, Sidney James, and Alfie Bass. T.E.B. Clarke's Oscar-winning script ingeniously sets up the story by having Holland recount his tale after-the-fact, and Clarke's characters and story line possess an unpredictability that makes the film easily maintain interest throughout. More than 35 years later, director Charles Crichton made another caper comedy, A Fish Called Wanda, that recaptured the carefree sensibility that makes The Lavender Hill Mob so enjoyable. It is also worth noting that a very young Audrey Hepburn has a brief appearance in the opening scene and veteran character actor Peter Bull can be quickly spotted in an unbilled cameo.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/03/1997
UPC:
0017153591330
Original Release:
1951
Rating:
NR
Source:
Republic Pictures
Presentation:
[B&W]

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alec Guinness Henry Holland
Stanley Holloway Alfred Pendelbury
Sidney James Lackery Wood
Alfie Bass Shorty Fisher
Marjorie Fielding Mrs. Chalk
Ronald Adam Turner
Edie Martin Miss Evesham
John Salew Parkin
Arthur Hambling Wallis
Gibb McLaughlin Godwin
John Gregson Farrow
Clive Morton Station Sergeant
Frederick Piper Cafe Owner
Peter Bull Joe the Gab
Patric Doonan Craggs
Marie Burke Senora Gallardo
Audrey Hepburn Chiquita
Michael Trubshawe Ambassador
Jacques Cey Actor
Archie Duncan Actor
Frank Forsyth Actor
Fred Griffiths Actor
Charles Lamb Actor
Arthur Mullard Actor
Marie Ney Actor
Robert Shaw Actor
Sydney Tafler Clayton
John Warwick Actor
Joe Clark Actor
William Fox Gregory
Ann Heffernan Kiosk Girl
Eugene Deckers Customs Official
Paul Demel Customs Official
Cyril Chamberlain Commander
Tony Quinn Deputy Commander
Christopher Hewett Inspector Talbot
Meredith Edwards P.C. Williams
Patrick Barr Inspector
David Davies City Policeman
Jacques Brunius Official
Andrea Malandrinos Customs Official
Moultrie Kelsall Detective Superintendant

Technical Credits
Charles Crichton Director
Georges Auric Score Composer
Michael Balcon Producer
T.E.B. Clarke Screenwriter
Stephen Dalby Sound/Sound Designer
Seth Holt Editor
Ernest Irving Musical Direction/Supervision
William Kellner Art Director
Anthony Mendleson Costumes/Costume Designer
Syd Pearson Special Effects
Norman Priggen Asst. Director
Jeff Seaholme Camera Operator
Douglas Slocombe Cinematographer
Ernest Taylor Makeup
Michael Truman Associate Producer

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