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The Lavender Hill Mob [DVD]

4.7 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Alfie Bass, Marjorie Fielding, John Gregson
  • Directors: Charles Crichton
  • Producers: Michael Balcon
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Ealing studios
  • DVD Release Date: 13 Nov. 2006
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000I5XNFG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,123 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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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

Four of the British film industry's best-loved comedies in one box set makes The Ealing Comedy Collection absolutely essential for anyone who has any passion at all for movies. The set contains Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Man in the White Suit (1951) and The Ladykillers (1955).

Ealing'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 humour. 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; while The Ladykillers mocks both the criminals and the authorities with its unlikely octogenarian heroine Mrs "lop-sided" Wilberforce.

Many factors contribute to the success of these films--including fine music scores from composers such as Benjamin Frankel (Man in the White Suit) and Tristram Cary (The Ladykillers); positively symphonic sound effects (White Suit); marvellously 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.

On the DVD: The Ealing Comedy Collection presents the four discs in a fold-out package with postcards of the original poster artwork for each. Aside from theatrical trailers on each disc there are no extra features, which is a pity given the importance of these films. The Ladykillers is in muted Technicolor and presented in 1.66:1 ratio, the three earlier films are all black and white 1.33:1. Sound is perfectly adequate mono throughout. --Mark Walker

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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