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."