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  • The Lavender Hill Mob [VHS] [1951]
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The Lavender Hill Mob [VHS] [1951]


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Product details

  • Actors: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James, Alfie Bass, Marjorie Fielding
  • Directors: Charles Crichton
  • Writers: T.E.B. Clarke
  • Producers: Michael Balcon, Michael Truman
  • Format: PAL, Black & White, Mono, Full Screen
  • Language: English, French, Portuguese
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.37:1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Warner
  • VHS Release Date: 3 July 2000
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CJE5
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 218,565 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Classic Ealing comedy starring Alec Guinness as a mild-mannered bank clerk whose sudden compulsion to rob the bank he works for causes all manner of chaos. Henry Holland (Guinness) has been trusted with delivering gold bullion for 20 years and is considered a safe pair of hands by his employers. However, Henry harbours dreams of becoming rich and hatches a plan to steal the gold when he makes the acquaintance of the artist, Alfred Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway). The pair realise that if Alfred melts the stolen gold into miniature statues of the Eiffel Tower, it could be smuggled safely to France and sold on. However, things go awry when the gold statues become mixed in with a group of ordinary statues, leading to a frantic chase as Henry and Alfred try to recover the gold without their crime being detected. The film features a brief cameo from a young Audrey Hepburn.

From Amazon.co.uk

Directed by Charles Crichton, who would much later direct John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda (1988), 1951's The Lavender Hill Mob is the most ruefully thrilling of the Ealing Comedies. Alec Guinness plays a bowler-hatted escort of bullion to the refineries. His seeming timidity, weak 'r's and punctiliousness mask a typically Guinness-like patient cunning. "I was aware I was widiculed but that was pwecisely the effect I was stwiving to achieve". He's actually plotting a heist. With more conventionally cockney villains Sid James and Alfie Bass in tow, as well as the respectable but ruined Stanley Holloway, Guinness' perfect criminal plan works in exquisite detail, then unravels just as exquisitely, culminating in a nail-biting police car chase in which you can't help rooting for the villains. The Lavender Hill Mob depicts a London still up to its knees in rubble from World War II, a world of new hope but continued austerity, a budding new order in which everything seems up for grabs; as such it could be regarded as a lighter hearted cinematic cousin to Carol Reed's 1949 masterpiece The Third Man. The Lavender Hill Mob also sees the first, fleeting on-screen appearance of Audrey Hepburn in the opening sequence. --David Stubbs

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

150 of 152 people found the following review helpful By Steve TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Aug. 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The phrase 'Ealing Comedy' is so well known, there's a danger of taking these four fine examples for granted. They may have appeared on T.V. many times before, but now with DVD we get the chance to see them in excellent picture quality and without the interminable commercial breaks of television. It's stating the obvious, but these are (relatively) short films which were meant to be seen at one sitting, without breaks disrupting continuity.
Of the four, Kind Hearts and Coronets is probably the most famous, as Alec Guinness famously plays the parts of eight characters. But there is an equally wonderful performance from Dennis Price, as an aggrieved member of the D'Ascoyne family who sets about killing off the eight others who stand in his way to the top of the family tree. It's Price's cool, dispassionate manner that adds the edge to the story. The parts played by Guinness vary considerably in character (and sex!), and Guinness is chameleon-like in the way he fits each part. The story itself is a cracker, with a couple of twists along the way.
The Ladykillers was, most unusually for a 1950's British film, shot in colour. It was also largely filmed on location close to King's Cross Station, so providing some fascinating glimpses of the area in the post-war period. Guinness plays 'The Professor', the mastermind of a robbery at the station, and Katie Johnson-then 77!- plays the landlady whose house Guinness and his gang use as their base. When she discovers who they are, they decide to kill her, and that's when the fun begins... The location (Ealing built the set above the entrance to Copenhagen railway tunnel, just north of Kings's Cross Station), really adds to the atmosphere; the little house is often shrouded in steam and smoke, and the clanking of trains is a constant backcloth.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Andy Millward VINE VOICE on 20 July 2005
Format: DVD
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.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Chris White on 2 Aug. 2011
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Regarding the picture quality on this Blu-ray, so long as you don't have high expectations, you won't be disappointed.

The Lavender Hill Mob was released in 1951. While it's true that there are older films on Blu-ray that look absolutely pristine, they tend to be those created by the Walt Disney studio with its 'no expense spared' preservation policy. Although this classic Ealing Comedy has undergone a digital restoration, your heart might sink when you see the visibly blemished Rank Organisation logo at the beginning. The opening titles don't fare much better.

However, once the narrative proper begins, the picture improves greatly - with one proviso. There is a fine negative scratch down the extreme right-hand side of the frame that is present throughout. It fades in and out of view depending on the brightness of the scene so most of the time it's quite possible to 'tune it out'. Nonetheless, as the restoration comparison included with this release demonstrates, it could have been so much worse. The vast majority of extraneous noise has been removed and the contrast adjusted dramatically. The PCM 2.0 mono soundtrack is also the result of a makeover.

The film itself is one of those Ealing gems that you can't help but admire. An adeptly written screenplay (which won an Academy Award for its creator, T.E.B. Clarke), spot-on direction by Charles Crichton and above all, two pleasing performances from Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway combine to make this tale of an attempted 'perfect robbery' an entertainment par excellence.

Other extras include a (rather muffled) audio interview with Charles Crichton and a vintage edition of Thames Television's Good Afternoon featuring a chat with T.E.B. Clarke.
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