A delightful collection, and evidence if evidence were needed of the brilliance of Sir Alec Guinness. These four films (along with Whisky Galore) are arguably the best known and certainly among the finest of the 110 fictional and documentary films produced by the Ealing Studios under the inspired leadership of Michael Balcon.
Although Balcon oversaw productions between 1938 and 1957, the golden years of Ealing Comedies started in 1947. These films represent a cross section, starting with the 1949 Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Man in the White Suit both from 1951, and The Ladykillers from 1955. Although classic comedies, all four of these films possess a streak of inky darkness, and are much the better for that. The Man in the White Suit is by far the most satirical, and its arguments about the British suspicion of innovation are debatably still as true today as in 1951. These are simple stories, told with refreshing clarity, played as an ensemble and are still as fresh and witty as you'll find (just see the Hollywood remake of The Ladykillers to realise which ingredients have been lost!)
Ealing was a proving ground for British actors, young and old, many of whom cut their teeth in these films. Witness here Stanley Holloway, Cecil Parker, Dennis Price, Joan Greenwood, Sid James, Alfie Bass, Jack Warner, Katie Johnson, Herbert Lom (OK - born in Prague, but an honorary Brit!), Peter Sellers and Frankie Howerd, among many others.
These films belong in any DVD collection. Warmly recommended for the whole family.