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Alec Guinness Collection (Widescreen/Full Screen)

Alec Guinness , Joan Greenwood , Alexander Mackendrick , Anthony Kimmins    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Five of the British film industry's best-loved comedies in one boxed set makes The Alec Guinness Collection absolutely essential for anyone who has any passion at all for movies. It contains Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Captain's Paradise (1953) (only available in this set), and The Ladykillers (1955). The Ealing Studio's greatest comedies captured the essence of post-war Britain, both in their evocation of a land once blighted by war but now rising doggedly and optimistically again from the ashes, and in their mordant yet graceful humor. They portray a country with an antiquated class system whose crumbling conventions are being undermined by a new spirit of individual opportunism. In the delightfully wicked Kind Hearts and Coronets, a serial killer politely murders his way into the peerage; in The Lavender Hill Mob a put-upon bank clerk schemes to rob his employers; The Man in the White Suit is a harshly satirical depiction of idealism crushed by the status quo; in The Captain's Paradise, a ferryboat captain complements his proper British wife with a fiery Spanish wife; while The Ladykillers mocks both the criminals and the authorities with its unlikely octogenarian heroine Mrs. "lop-sided" Wilberforce. Many factors contribute to these films' success--including fine music scores from composers such as Benjamin Frankel (Man in the White Suit), Malcolm Arnold (Captain's Paradise), and Tristram Cary (The Ladykillers); positively symphonic sound effects (White Suit); marvelously evocative locations (the environs of King's Cross in Ladykillers, for example); and writing that always displays Ealing's unique perspective on British social mores ("All the exuberance of Chaucer without, happily, any of the concomitant crudities of his period")--yet arguably their greatest asset is Alec Guinness, whose multifaceted performances are the keystone upon which Ealing built its biting, often macabre, yet always elegant comedy. --Mark Walker

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GENIUS OF GUINNESS Sept. 17 2002
Format:DVD
From the Ealing Studios and the 50s via Anchor Bay comes a terrifc, long overdue set of sly, witty, intelligent satires and farces starring the late Sir Alec Guiness. All the titles are availbale as single discs, but the only way to get the marvelous THE CAPTAIN'S PARADISE is to buy the set.
In THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT, find out what happens when an idealist young chemist (Guinness) invents a fabric that won't wrinkle, won't get dirty and won't wear out. What's a miracle fabric to the consumer is the end of a job to mill workers and soon Guinness is the must hunted man in the UK.
No, THE LAVENDER HILL MOB is not about the gay mafia. It's about a meek bank clerk (Guinness) who devises a plot to steal the gold bullion in his own bank by melting it down and molding it inside little Eiffel Tower souvenirs to be shipped to France. Naturally things go wrong and the delicious suspense is in rooting for the bad guys to get away with it.
THE LADYKILLERS is a very black comedy about a gang of crooks who rent a room from a kindly, elderly lady. But her constant interference (tea and cookies anyone?) with their perfect crime plans is too much and they decide to kill her. Sadly, they don't know what they are up against when evil confronts pure innocence (or so it seems). Peter Seller is featured in his first major screen role. Guinness is wonderful as a pale, demented, buck toothed cold-hearted, cynical criminal mastermind.
In KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS Sir Alec plays eight very different roles. Dennis Price costars as a man who decides to knock off all his d'Ascoyne relatives that stand in his way of inheriting a dukedom. A terrific twist ending.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful collection Dec 28 2002
Format:DVD
The films are:
Kind Hearts & Coronets
The Lavender Hill Mob
The Man in the White Suit
The Ladykillers
The Captain's Paradise
The last is available only in the set while the others can be bought
separately.
The movies, of course, are all excellent so I'm just commenting on the quality of the DVDs.
I got the collection for Christmas and haven't watched all the films yet but did go through the ones I haven't watched to see how the transfers looked -- all extremely good, probably the best I've ever seen them.
"The Ladykillers" is MUCH improved over the VHS versions I've rented which tended to have both very greyed out blacks and blown highlights. The film is in widescreen format with black bars at top and bottom. The rest of the movies were filmed in 4x3 ratio - which is how they are presented.
There are closed captions but only the type that must be set on the TV - the white lettering within a black band. There are none of the type available on many DVDs without banding, however I think most Tv sets, at least the ones owned by those of us who need the captions are now capable of showing the standard caption format. For everything I've watched so far the captions are quite correct.
Which brings up the sound. English film soundtracks (and the BBC -- especially the BBC) have always been somewhat poor. It isn't simply a matter of us Yanks not being able to comprehend the accents, but of truly terrible sound equipment and perhaps a somewhat less than skilled bunch of sound recordists.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Need a Definition for the Word Droll! Oct. 8 2002
Format:DVD
Then check out this collection of these wonderful, classic Ealing Studios comedies starring the inimitable Alec Guinness. Odd and whimsical, these films are loaded with not only astringent British wit, but also quirky and vivid characterizations, social satire, and just pure fun and outright slapstick. They cast a bemused and knowing eye on British attitudes of class & propriety, and poked sharp fun at them. Briefly:
THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT: A brilliant but stubbornly obtuse and obsessed scientist pursues his dream of a miracle fabric in the heart of the British textile industry, in the end pleasing no one but himself. As he is beset by conservative owners on one side, and radical unionists on the other, we get a light satire on the mixed blessings of technology.
THE CAPTAIN'S PARADISE: A ship's captain has a wife in each port, one for domesticity and one for fun. So pleased with his own pleasure he doesn't realize that each woman is only half-fulfilled by such an arrangement until the applecart is upset.
KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS: Guinness plays all the members of an aristocratic family being done-away-with by a disinfranchised illegitimate heir (a deliciously arch Dennis Price). A bunch of clueless upper class twits are done-in by a clever and ruthless "tradesman".
THE LAVENDER HILL MOB: An apparently meek and unambitious clerk masterminds the perfect gold heist with the aid of some bumbling cohorts. Everything that goes wrong turns out to go right and they bring off a huge robbery. But, of course, there is a snag....proving the "wobbewy" was the easy part. (Loved the lisp!)
THE LADY KILLERS: Saved the best for last. Guinness is the "Professor" a brilliant, half-mad mastermind of a motley gang of crooks.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Good, One Bad.
The dvd Kind, Hearts and Coronets was warped, as I noticed several other reviewers have mentioned, so why continue to produce it badly? Read more
Published 20 months ago by Not the movies, the dvd.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great films, great value
As other reviewers have noted, these superb comedies from the golden age of British cinema showcase Alec Guinness' considerable skills, proving him to be as great an actor in his... Read more
Published on July 15 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable collection.
I am 24 years old so one would not expect me to be a huge fan of these "older" films. On the contrary I am not just a fan I love them. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2003 by Jaha
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Set of British Comedy Classics -- Enjoy!
Unless I am mistaken, these films were shamefully hard to find on videotape (or DVD for that matter) until the release of this marvelous set of Ealing Studio films from the 1950s. Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2003 by Dan Sherman
5.0 out of 5 stars Widescreen or Full-Screen?
edited review:
One of the reviewers (from Switzerland) praises the widescreen image on the DVDs. Read more
Published on Dec 6 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Guiness by the gallon
These five classics of British cinema were the bellwether of cinematic humor to come. That Alec Guiness starred in all five is an indication of his profound abilities. Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2002 by David Worden
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Transfer of Great Movies
As for the films, they are great and have been so since they were released (sorry, I don't want to restate the obvious). Read more
Published on Oct. 4 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars LADY KILLERS is the best
Please do not belittle the LADY KILLERS! It is definitely the best(!!!) of all British comedy movies. KIND HEARTS comes in second; LAVENDER HILL MOB brings up the third. Read more
Published on Sept. 28 2002 by Saw-Lots-Of-Movies-Read-Lots-Of-Books
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movies starring a real genius!
Sir Alec Guinness is probably best known for one of his last roles- Obi-Wan Kenobi, or 'Ben', in the Star Wars movies. Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2002 by Daniel
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