The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Holland, a shy retiring man, dreams of being rich and living the good life. Faithfully, for twenty years, he has worked as a bank transfer agent for the delivery of gold bullion. One day he befriends Pendlebury, a maker of souvenirs. Holland remarks that, with Pendlebury's smelting equipment, one… Runtime: 78 min Release Date: 28 Jun 1951
One of the most engaging and witty movie I have seen (by ClassicMovieFans)
The DVD used Audrey Hepburn's first movie appearance as a promotion. Together with the fact that Alec Guinness is the leading man, I immediately jumped at the chance of watching the film.The film began with Alec Guinness recalling his life last year, as a 20-year bank clerk and how he plotted to steal a vast amount of gold. Stanley Holloway who also starred as Eliza's father in My Fair Lady and Alec Guinness made a wonderful couple. And watch out for the elegant Audrey Hepburn in the first 10 minutes of the movie.The story unfolded nicely as Alec narrated how he formulated his plan, <more>
how he recruited partners to execute his well-thought plan and how, when their plan did go wrong, they improvised. The scene of them chasing after Englsih school girls at the Eiffel Tower in Paris is particularly impressive. It is as if they were flying in the air and laughing their hearts out on a merry-go-round. I kept wondering how modern movies did not make such shots any more. It was funny to see how they persisted in order to succeed. They were like serious school kids who was intent on completing their project by any means. Never did they think of betraying their team members.With an excellent script, funny characters and a marvellous twist in the end, this movie is not a bit out of date. Love to watch it again soon.
Ealing studios in Great Britain had a reputation for producing some very droll comedies in the post World War II years and this one was done when Ealing was at its height.Alec Guinness is once again playing a mild mannered schnook of a man who no one notices at all. In fact his own superiors at his job, tell him to his face that his only virtue is a dull, honest dependability with a lack of imagination.Boy how they were wrong. Guinness's job is to supervise the transfer of gold bullion from where it is smelted into bars to the Bank of England. Every working day he accompanies the gold in <more>
an armored truck to the bank. And Sir Alec's imagination has been working overtime as to how a robbery could be accomplished.As he's discovered a long time ago, the problem isn't the robbery, it's the fencing of the loot. Well, bigger and more professional criminals have failed to lick that one on occasion.Into Guinness's life walks Stanley Holloway who's the owner of a small foundry that makes lead souvenirs for sale. Another man with a dull life, looking for adventure. Guinness recognizes both a kindred spirit and a solution to his problem.What makes The Lavendar Hill Mob work is the chemistry between Guinness and Holloway. It's so understated, but at the same time, so droll, funny, and touching. These two middle-aged men are living out a fantasy we'd all like to live, even if it means a touch of robbery. Guinness's character name is Henry Holland and Holloway is Alfred Pendlebury. As the friendship grows, they stop referring to each other as Mr. Holland and Mr. Pendlebury. Holloway even gives Holland the gangster nickname of Dutch.They pick up two other amiable allies in petty crooks Sidney James and Alfie Bass. The robbery comes off pretty much as planned, but afterward things don't quite work out.They use Holloway's foundry to make solid gold statues of the Eiffel Tower and send them to Paris to get them out of the country. What follows after that is some pretty funny situations, a mad run down the real Eiffel Tower and also one of the wildest police chase scenes ever filmed.The run down the Eiffel Tower has always been a favorite of mine. When I was a lad, my parents took the family to Washington, DC for a sight seeing tour and I got the brilliant idea of walking down the Washington Monument to see the various commemorative stones in the wall of the Monument. Even after walking down, my whole family felt just like Guinness and Holloway.Sir Alec Guinness got his first Oscar nomination for The Lavendar Hill Mob, but lost the big sweepstakes to Gary Cooper for High Noon. the Lavendar Hill Mob won an Oscar for the screenplay.I understand there will be a remake of it coming out next year. I can't conceive of any remake possibly duplicating the chemistry between Guinness and Holloway.
Superior Comedy Screaming for a Remake (by mockturtle)
Of the three better known Alec Guiness films to come out of Ealing Studios, the other two being `Kind Hearts and Coronets' and `The Ladykillers,' this is by far the foremost. It is not that the performances are so stunning: Guiness is solid as always and support is ably provided down the line, especially by Stanley Holloway; the important thing is that when you have a script this good you don't NEED great acting. The way they give out a fake to catch burglars in the act and then try to recruit them; the great shots running down the Eiffel Tower staircase laughing hysterically, <more>
then being too dizzy at the bottom to chase the car they're after; the growing dread on the faces of Guiness and Holloway as their target goes further and further into police territory; and how about a heist that goes perfectly while everyone involved thinks it's been blown and comes within hair's breadths of giving it all away. An expertly scripted and directed picture that could be remade at the same locations for cheap, or reimagined here in America for next to nothing. I believe the Coens were wrong to go with the flashier but inferior `Ladykillers,' passing over this diamond. Funny enough, out of the three this was the one I was least eager to see. Its ingenuity and solid craftsmanship trumped the drier-than-the-sahara `Kind Hearts' and the frantic flopsweaty unfunnyness of `The Ladykillers,' which I really expected to like. Anyone over 40 can play the Guiness part and come away like roses, though I'd go with Ian McKellen, or Anthony Hopkins, anyone who can radiate that `passed over' look. Too bad Tom Courtenay doesn't sell tickets. What a script, really. The thing is that it didn't have particularly witty or funny dialogue: it didn't need it because the situations were so funny, the dialogue was simply a natural reaction to the absurdity of the moment and quite naturalistic, provoking laughter by also almost improvisatory. No surprise that I just found out Screenwriter TEB Clarke won the 1952 Oscar for adapting it. Not sure what he adapted it from considering he wrote the story too. Should we also be surprised that Charles Crichton went on to direct `A Fish Called Wanda'? This was one talented and underused director.
Ealing studios are famous for making very dry and witty comedies; they're probably most famous for the excellent 'Kind Hearts and Coronets' and darkly comic 'The Ladykillers', but The Lavender Hill Mob, although not as good as the other two, is definitely worth a mention.The Lavender Hill Mob is about a bank clerk Alec Guinness that, with the aid of his friend Alfred Pendlebury Stanley Holloway , a man that makes paperweights in the shape of the Eiffel tower, has an ingenious idea of how to rob his own bank. The two realise that the bank cannot be robbed by just them, <more>
so they set a trap to catch a couple of criminals, and once they've recruited them; The Lavender Hill Mob is born.Alec Guinness, a regular of Ealing comedies and a man that I think is worthy of the title "the greatest actor of all time" shines, as usual, in this movie. Alec Guinness manages to hit the tone of his character just right; he is suitably creepy, as he is, a criminal, and yet at the same time he's also eccentric enough to be considered an upstanding citizen and bank clerk. Guinness is, however, not the only actor who's performance in this movie is worthy of acclaim, the entire cast shine in their respective roles; Stanley Holloway is more subdued in his role, but that's also suited to his character. There are also excellent support performances from Sid James, who is mostly remembered for his work on the 'Carry on' films; Alfie Bass, whom fans of British comedy TV will remember from the series "Are You Being Served" and there's also a very small role for Audrey Hepburn, who's movie legacy is legendary.The Lavender Hill Mob also features many memorable moments that will stick in the viewers' mind long after the film has ended. Parts of the film such as the chase on the Eiffel tower and the way that the two central characters manage to loose the entire police force are legendary. The Lavender Hill Mob is a small movie, but it's a movie that aims big and it works a treat. This movie also features a brilliant twist ending that rivals the one in the superb 'Kind Hearts and Coronets'.Overall, The Lavender Hill Mob is, despite its low budget and short running time, a spectacular comedy film that should not be missed by anyone.
The most exuberant of Ealing Comedies (by UncleJack)
This is a gentle understated English comedy, a classic example of Ealing Studios' output of the 1950s. But paradoxically what makes it most remarkable is its sheer exuberance, the unconcealed glee of Holland and Pendlebury as they revel in the success of their audacious plan. Their first meeting after seeing each other at the police station, the drunken return to their rooms after their celebratory meal and of course the famous descent of the Eiffel Tower, their laughter echoing the giggles of the schoolgirls spiralling round and round before falling dizzily out at the bottom.Painting and <more>
sculpture were Pendlebury's wings, his escape from his "unspeakably hideous" business occupation. But when Holland delicately introduces him to his own dream of twenty years' to escape - and not just metaphorically - from life as a nonentity, Pendlebury is drawn in. The scenes in the Balmoral Private Hotel in Lavender Hill are outstanding, and the sparse dialogue allows Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway to shine as Holland suggests to Pendlebury how gold might be smuggled out of the country. "Hohohoho; By Jove, Holland, it is a good job we are both honest men." "It is indeed, Pendlebury."Later in the film, the plot stands less well up to scrutiny but Guinness and Holloway are easily able to carry the viewers' attention. Chases that turn into farces often don't work in this style of British film, but here again Holland and Pendlebury carry such energy and excitement that they fit in well, and I am sure that even in nineteen fifties Britain, large numbers of the audience will have grasped the ironic humour of the policeman singing "Old MacDonald," in addition to those laughing at the straightforward ludicrousness of the scene.Aficionados of British postwar comedy will enjoy this film, and because it lacks the dryness of say, "Kind Hearts and Coronets" or "The Ladykillers" it provides a more accessible introduction for those who are new to this most wonderful of genres.
The humour in this film starts with the title. Lavender Hill is a respectable middle-class area of London, so the idea of its being associated with a "mob", in the sense of a gang of criminals, is an incongruous one. This, however, is no ordinary mob. Its leader is himself impeccably respectable and middle class. Henry Holland is the archetypal city gent, a minor official with the Bank of England. Holland is regarded by his superiors as honest and conscientious, if dull and lacking in initiative, so is entrusted with the task of escorting gold bullion from the foundry to the Bank. <more>
He is, however, rather less honest than his superiors imagine; indeed, he is obsessed with the idea of stealing the gold in his care and escaping to live a life of luxury on the proceeds. The only reason he has not yet done so is that he knows he will not be able to sell the gold on the black market in Britain and cannot think of any way of smuggling it abroad under the noses of the police and Customs. Holland's luck changes, however, when he makes the acquaintance of Alf Pendlebury, a manufacturer of tourist souvenirs. The two come up with a scheme to melt down the gold and to export it to France in the form of golden replicas of the Eiffel Tower, painted to look like the normal leaden ones that Pendlebury manufactures for the Paris souvenir trade. All that remains is to organise the robbery itself, which they achieve with the aid of two petty criminals. Things start to go wrong, however, when some of the golden models are accidentally put on sale and brought back to England after being bought by a party of schoolgirls. Many of the Ealing comedies had as their subject the theme of the little man, as an individual or as part of a group, taking on the system, either by fair means or by foul. A group of Scottish islanders manage to hide a cargo of stolen whisky from the authorities. The poor relation of an aristocratic family murders several relatives on his way to a Ducal title. The inhabitants of a London suburb find a legal technicality that will enable them to get round the rationing laws. "The Lavender Hill Mob" fits in with this general theme. For all his bowler-hatted respectability, Holland is very much the little man, patronised and badly paid by his employers. When he is offered a pay rise, it is only of fifteen shillings seventy-five pence per week. He is forced to live in a drab and seedily genteel lodging-house, similar to the one in "The Ladykillers", another Ealing film with a crime theme. The London we see in some striking black-and white photography is an equally drab place, much of it still in ruins after wartime bombing. This is a film for everyone who has ever imagined taking revenge on his boss and escaping to a better life. Alec Guinness was one of Britain's greatest movie actors, and played a major part in the success of the Ealing comedies. His performance here as Holland is perfectly judged. Holland is a reserved, diffident English gentleman, likable enough for us to sympathise him with his despite his criminal intentions. He receives good support from Stanley Holloway as Pendlebury and Sid James and Alfie Bass as their working-class sidekicks. There are some brilliantly funny scenes, such as the one where Holland and Pendlebury entrap the two crooks and then persuade them to support their scheme and the chase sequence where the police pursue the fleeing gang. During the fifties there was a convention, enforced by the British Board of Film Censors, that films about crime could not show the villains succeeding in their illegal enterprises, which resulted in a number of films having a surprisingly moralistic ending tacked on to them. In "Kind Hearts and Coronets" the scriptwriters were able to turn this convention to their advantage by using it to end the film with a splendidly ironic and cynical twist. The ending to "The Lavender Hill Mob", by comparison, is disappointing. Holland is so much the underdog that we end up wanting him to get away with it. The character played by Dennis Price in "Kind Hearts", by contrast, may be the "poor relation", but forfeits our sympathy because he is as cold, arrogant and snobbish as any of his richer relatives, if not more so. The ending apart, however, "The Lavender Hill Mob" represents the Ealing comedies close to their best. 9/10
Ealing Studios turned out a series of comic gems in the late 40s and early 50s and this is a good example. Only a curmudgeon would not laugh aloud during some of the scenes.The plot, briefly, involves a clever bank clerk Guiness developing a plan with a die caster Holloway to steal several million pounds of gold bullion, recast it into tourist knicknacks in the shape of Eiffel Tower paperweights, and ship it to Paris to sell on the black market. They recruit two professional thieves to help them.It may not be Ealing's best comedy my vote would be for "The Lady Killers" but <more>
it's more than funny enough. I'll just give three scenes as examples. 1 Holloway and Guiness, two honest men, need to recruit what they call a "mob" but have no idea how to go about it. What I mean is -- how would YOU go about recruiting criminal assistants? What they do is go to crowded places of low repute -- saloons, prize fights, the underground -- and shout at each other through the noise about the safe being broken at such-and-such an address and all that money having to be left in it. Then they hole up at the address and wait for the burglars to arrive. 2 A scene at the Eiffel Tower in which they discover that half a dozen of the gold paperweights instead of the usual leaden ones have been sold to some English schoolgirls. They watch horrified as the door closes and the elevator carrying the girls begins its descent, and they decide to rush down the tightly spiraling staircase to ground level, trying to beat the elevator. By the time they reach the street they've been spun around so many times that they can't stop laughing and are unable to stop twirling around until they fall down. 3 After the robbery, in an empty warehouse soon to be searched by the police, Guiness must be tied up, gagged, and blindfolded with tape. Then his clothes must be torn and dirtied so that it appears he put up a fight before the gold was taken. But the police arrive too soon, and the others beat it, leaving Guiness standing alone, tied up, and blindfolded, but not dirty. He stumbles about blindly, trying to blow the tape from his mouth, getting his feet caught in discarded bicycle wheels, until he falls into the Thames.Probably the weakest part of the movie is near the end, when police cars wind up chasing one another because of confusing messages. The scene could have been lifted from Laurel and Hardy. It's a little silly. Why didn't Guiness and Holloway park the stolen car, get out, and walk away? But that's a minor consideration.What surprises me about some of these comedies is that they're able to make us laugh despite the dreary atmosphere. The streets of London look awfully dismal in this grainy black and white film. Some of them were still charred wrecks left over from the Blitz. But it doesn't dampen the comedy at all. Following the successful robbery a drunken Guiness and Holloway return to their boarding house to be chided by their landlady for being "naughty". One pulls the other aside, chuckling conspiratorially, and the two agree to call each other "Al" and "Dutch" -- two REAL BIG gangsters for you.If you need to use up some neuropeptides this is your movie.
This is a comedy the talented Alec Guinnes did for the Ealing studio in the early part of his career. Of his Ealing days, he left us a legacy that is hard to surpass: "Kind Hearts and Coronets", "The Ladykillers" and this one, that comes to mind.Directed by Charles Crichton and written by T.E. Clarke, this is a fun movie that in spite of the years since it was filmed, it still charms its audiences, young and old.The background is a London, right after the war. The film is original in that it takes us all over the city to places that one can identify so clearly, even after <more>
more than 50 years! It speaks of how careful are the English not to destroy their monuments.As the would be robbers, Henry "Dutch" Holland is a man with a plan. He recognizes in his neighbor of the Lavender Hill rooming house, Alfred Pendlebury, a kindred soul that will see his proposal of how to steal the precious gold bullion from the Bank of England. It's a big operation, yet, only four people are needed to carry on the job.This is a comedy of errors, where the best laid plans go awry in the small details the gang hadn't planned. The sure thing becomes a dead giveaway to the authorities once Holland and Pendlebury decide to go after the souvenir one young student bought in Paris that is part of the loot. Prior to that, the scenes in Paris at the Eiffel Tower was an original sequence for a movie that relies on intelligence rather than in overblown special effects.Alec Guinness is charming as the master mind behind the heist. Stanley Holloway, a great English actor is magnificent as the man with an artistic eye, who almost derails the operation. Sid James and Alfie Bass contribute to make the film the joy it is with their comic presence. In a small cameo that comes and goes so quickly, we watch a young and elegant Audrey Hepburn makes an graceful appearance.This is a film for all Ealing fans of all ages.
not quite a comedy not quite a drama (by MartinHafer)
Although most Americans have little knowledge of his work other than Star Wars, Alec Guinness produced an amazing body of work--particularly in the 1940s-1950s--ranging from dramas to quirky comedies. I particularly love his comedies, as they are so well-done and seem so natural and real on the screen--far different from the usual fare from Hollywood.This is an excellent film overall, but is a little less comedic in tone than some other Guinness films. This doesn't make it bad--just a little lighter in the comedy department and a little heavier on drama. It's the story of some <more>
unprofessional robbers and their attempt at a huge heist. All the intricate details have been worked out, all the participants coached and re-coached and all appears to be going like clockwork,....until,.......I won't say more, as it would ruin the surprises along the way. Just understand that the acting, writing and direction are impeccable.