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4.0 out of 5 stars Best part on cutting room floor,
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This review is from: The Lavender Hill Mob (Full Screen/B&W) (DVD)This is a wonderfully funny movie. So memorable to me that I remembered so much of it even after many years. But one part, which featured a lovely old lady, who discovers the money, and goes to the police to report finding the 'lolly', has been left out of the video. Quite a disappointment as it was a wonderful little character study. Still a great movie, though.
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous DVD version of a great Ealing Brothers romp,
This review is from: The Lavender Hill Mob (Full Screen/B&W) (DVD)This marvlous film unites the talents of two of the greatest English comedians of the forties and fifties (Guinness more or less ceased doing comedy in the sixties on): Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway. Guinness is, of course, one of the most famous and distinguished actors of the past half century, but Holloway is primarily known in the United States for a single role, though by no means his most representative, that of Alfred P. Doolittle in the film version of MY FAIR LADY. In this film we see him at his more typical, more akin to his performances in movies like PASSPORT TO PIMPLICO and BRIEF ENCOUNTER. Guinness, who was so versatile that he had no particular role that was typical of him, shines as a long suffering, faithful bank clerk of whom the old expression "still waters run deep" is especially true. Behind his nonexpressive, stoic face is the soul of a thief who intends to rob the bank of a small fortune. Holloway plays the owner of a very small company that makes tourist trinkets for souvenir shops. They team up to form the Lavender Hill Mob (named for the address of the boarding house in which they both live).
As in so many movies, it isn't the getting there but the going there that's good. The plot takes a definite second place to the performances of the leads. One of my major complaints with Guinness is that the further he went in his career, the more he foresook comedy for drama. He was a subtle and brilliant commedian who excelled in subdued performances. Guinness could get more mileage out of a sly grin and his eyes than most actors can in their entire body. Holloway, on the other hand, is the master of broad comedy: exaggerated facial expressions, horrified poses, distraught reactions. Together they balance one another out perfectly. In scenes like their frantic and futile dash down the steps of the Eiffel Tower they are used to perfection.
Ealing Studios made a string of utterly superb comedies in the 1940s and 1950s, and this is one of my favorites. I actually prefer this to the deeply cynical and dark KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, and consider it on any grounds to be superior to THE LADYKILLERS (oddly marred by Guinness's inexplicable impersonation of Alastair Sim, down to false teeth, body padding, and a hair-do that mimicked Sims's--when you go that far, why not just hire Sim instead?), and an honorable companion to films such as PASSPORT TO PIMPLICO, THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT, and THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT).
Audrey Hepburn had a number of walk on roles in British films in the very early 1950s, but didn't achieve real success until her stage work brought her to the attention of Hollywood. She is easily spotted in a bit role in this one, as the radiantly beautiful woman who stops to say hello to Guinness in the opening scene of the film.
4.0 out of 5 stars Minor classic of Ealing comedy,
This review is from: Lavender Hill Mob [Import] (VHS Tape)I do not rate this as among the great Ealing studios comedies and it trails behind such movies as Kind Hearts and Coronets ,The Ladykillers and The Man in the White Suit as examples of that genre.It is however ,an enjoyable and diverting piece of work ,solidly in the traditions of comedy established by the studio.
Th framing scenes depict Alec Guinness as Holland ,clearly a luminary of the expatriate English set of Rio De Janeiro ,relating the tale of how he came to acquire his wealth and postition .His audience is a soberly dresssed man clearly also English.
We then are taken back to the execution of a gold bullion robbbery ,masterminded by Holland ,a long serving ,meek and decorous Bank of England employee who has dreamed of robbing the vehicle containing the gold .He enlists the aid of Pemberton (Stanley Hoilloway)who owns a small souvenir making business ,and that of two small time professional criminals -played by two British comedy stalwarts in Sid James and Aldie Bass.The robbery is executed without violence and the ingots melted down into replicas of the Eiffel Tower which Pemberton and Holland go to Paris to rescue .Alas, some find their way onto the market and the duo are forced to try buying back the models from the schoolgirls who have purchased them .
There is a lively car chase -again comedic in tone rather than an exercise in screeching rubber -before the twist ending in Rio.
This is a gently amoral comedy -the larceny perpetrated is without violence or malice and is shown as the revenge of the timid and passed over in an age of drabness and austerity.It is a tale of the "little man "who rebels .In contrast to more recent caper movies these are not vicious professional criminals but opporunists who shrink from violence .It is thus a period piece and miles removed from the unappealing specimens deopicted in the modern British crime movies like those of the morally null Guy Ritchie.
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a "Classic" Comedy,
This review is from: The Lavender Hill Mob (Full Screen/B&W) (DVD)I recently purchased The Horse's Mouth (1958) from Amazon as well as "The Alec Guinness Collection" which includes The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) plus four others: Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Captain's Paradise (1953), and The Ladykillers (1955). Frankly, I was amazed how well each of the six films has held up since I first saw it.
This film was directed by Charles Crighton. Noteworthy in the first scene is a brief appearance by Audrey Hepburn, identified in the credits as "Chiquita." After she departs, Henry Holland (played brilliantly, as always, by Guinness) begins to recount the Lavender Hill saga to his companion. As he explains, he was a mild-mannered fellow who supervised the transportation by van of gold bullion. His boss, the armed guards who accompany him, and those who receive the shipments all respect his fastidious (albeit anal retentive) attitude toward his duties. Holland seems to have no private life except for his friendship with Alfred Pendlebury (played by Stanley Holloway) who owns a company which manufactures paperweights. For reasons which will not be revealed here, Holland and Pendlebury decide to steal a shipment worth (in 1951) several million pounds. They realize they will need help so they recruit two smalltime Cockney crooks, Lackery Wood (Sidney James) and Shorty Fisher (Alfie Bass), and thereby create the Lavender Hill Mob. In my opinion, how they plan and then complete the heist is far less entertaining than what happens afterward. T.E.B. Clarke received an Academy Award for his script which, paradoxically, is quite simple and yet wholly unpredictable. The acting is consistently first-rate. Also, while recently seeing this film again, I enjoyed the exterior shots London and Paris more than 50 years ago. This comedy is indeed a "classic."
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic British Caper Film.,
This review is from: The Lavender Hill Mob (Full Screen/B&W) (DVD)This will be a short review, since I concur with the other positive comments on this classic Ealing comedy, as well as the extensive plot summary ( actually a little too extensive for people who have not seen the film ). I gave it four stars only because I consider "The Ladykillers" to be superior.
As always, Sir Alec shines in the lead role, with fine support from Stanley Holloway and Sidney James, years before his "Carry On" fame. The humour here is dark and subtle, and of course there is a delightful "twist" at the end, an Ealing trade mark.
I found the quality of this DVD to be more than acceptable for a 50 plus year-old film. Some of the location scenes in London are interesting, with areas damaged by the "blitz" in World War II still very evident.
So--if you like comedy with genuine wit and style ( very rare today, in the era of teen-oriented gross-out movies ), you will enjoy this one. Recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars What we want is not always what we dream of...,
This review is from: The Lavender Hill Mob (Full Screen/B&W) (DVD)A retired bank clerk retells his life story of how he reached his goal of riches for a stranger in a bar in Rio de Janeiro. When he was bank clerk he meticulously oversaw the banks gold bar production and transportation. Eventually, he intended to steal this gold whenever an opportunity arose. One day a man moved into the same building in which he lived and the man's profession seemed to fit into the bank clerks dubious plan. In addition, he traps two accomplices for the plan and they put the plan into action. However, something seems fishy as the story unfolds. The Lavender Hill Mob is a well performed dark comedy about the theft of a hefty sum in gold that brings the audience to ponder the film in retrospect.
4.0 out of 5 stars A minor pleasure,
This review is from: The Lavender Hill Mob (Full Screen/B&W) (DVD)Like most people, I am most familiar with Alec Guinness in his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. Of course, by the time he made that movie, he had been an acclaimed actor for a while. The Lavender Hill Mob is one of the reasons for that acclaim.
Guinness stars as Henry Holland, a bank clerk who has reached middle-age with little to show for it: he's been stuck in the same job forever and lives a quiet, lonely life in a boarding house. Holland is also a dreamer, with a goal of stealing all the gold he counts every day and retire quietly abroad. When opportunity knocks, he answers and forms a small criminal gang to execute his scheme.
It's a brilliant scheme, and of course, things go wrong. Chance events and Holland's cautious nature creates trouble. It makes for a nice caper flick, if not quite the same caliber as director Chricton's much later movie, A Fish Called Wanda. Yet this is a pleasant diversion (look for a young Audrey Hepburn in a cameo) and there are certainly worse ways to spend an hour-and-a-half.
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The Lavender Hill Mob (Full Screen/B&W) by Charles Crichton (DVD - 2002)