The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) Poster

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Small is beautiful
Tipu15 September 1999
What hits you first about LHM is its smallness. It is a small film (78 min) made with a small budget about some small people. But their smallness doesn't stop them from dreaming the impossibly big - rob the Bank of England! In fact it is this very smallness & unobtrusiveness that gives Alec Guinness & Stanley Holloway - bank clerk & artist respectively - their chance.

The film, told in an intelligent flashback, is divided into 3 segments. First is the plotting. A mild mannered bank clerk meets a minor artist. Both want to get out of their seedy Lavender Hill boarding house & nondescript existance. Both look past their glory days. Yet together they have the opportunity to pull off a brilliant crime.

Then comes the heist. A surprisingly simple operation perfectly (almost!) executed. Finally the escape - getting the gold outside the country into the 'continental blackmarket'. Alas, the movie being made in the good old days when crime didn't pay, our heroes must suffer. But by then they have given us enough joy & adventure for us to forgive their one tragic slip.

This is definitely one of the best comedies Ealing studios made in the '50s (my other favourite is the vastly underrated 'Hue & Cry' where Alistair Sim gives a typical quirky performance & the tipsy 'Whiskey Galore'). Holloway & Guinness acted in many of them. They usually played very stiff upper British lip polite, eccentric, but excitable characters. In this movie they decide they are familiar enough to ask each other their first names only after they have robbed a bank together! When Holloway realises they can pull it off, his face is hidden in the shadows as he slowly tells Guinness, 'Thank God Holland, we are both honest men' - a line which I think summarises the entire movie.

The reason this movie is so amusing even today is that it is very tightly scripted (Tibby Clark won an Oscar for his effort) & brilliantly realised by the ensemble cast. As far as caper films go this has half the gadgetry of 'Entrapment' but twice the fun.

This is the 3rd time I am seeing this movie & I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. Please see this one!
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Brilliant Ealing Comedy
The_Void19 July 2004
Ealing studios are famous for making very dry and witty comedies; they're probably most famous for the excellent 'Kind Hearts and Coronets' and darkly comic 'The Ladykillers', but The Lavender Hill Mob, although not as good as the other two, is definitely worth a mention.

The Lavender Hill Mob is about a bank clerk (Alec Guinness) that, with the aid of his friend Alfred Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway), a man that makes paperweights in the shape of the Eiffel tower, has an ingenious idea of how to rob his own bank. The two realise that the bank cannot be robbed by just them, so they set a trap to catch a couple of criminals, and once they've recruited them; The Lavender Hill Mob is born.

Alec Guinness, a regular of Ealing comedies and a man that I think is worthy of the title "the greatest actor of all time" shines, as usual, in this movie. Alec Guinness manages to hit the tone of his character just right; he is suitably creepy, as he is, a criminal, and yet at the same time he's also eccentric enough to be considered an upstanding citizen and bank clerk. Guinness is, however, not the only actor who's performance in this movie is worthy of acclaim, the entire cast shine in their respective roles; Stanley Holloway is more subdued in his role, but that's also suited to his character. There are also excellent support performances from Sid James, who is mostly remembered for his work on the 'Carry on' films; Alfie Bass, whom fans of British comedy TV will remember from the series "Are You Being Served" and there's also a very small role for Audrey Hepburn, who's movie legacy is legendary.

The Lavender Hill Mob also features many memorable moments that will stick in the viewers' mind long after the film has ended. Parts of the film such as the chase on the Eiffel tower and the way that the two central characters manage to loose the entire police force are legendary. The Lavender Hill Mob is a small movie, but it's a movie that aims big and it works a treat. This movie also features a brilliant twist ending that rivals the one in the superb 'Kind Hearts and Coronets'.

Overall, The Lavender Hill Mob is, despite its low budget and short running time, a spectacular comedy film that should not be missed by anyone.
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Breaking the bank
jotix10013 February 2005
This is a comedy the talented Alec Guinnes did for the Ealing studio in the early part of his career. Of his Ealing days, he left us a legacy that is hard to surpass: "Kind Hearts and Coronets", "The Ladykillers" and this one, that comes to mind.

Directed by Charles Crichton and written by T.E. Clarke, this is a fun movie that in spite of the years since it was filmed, it still charms its audiences, young and old.

The background is a London, right after the war. The film is original in that it takes us all over the city to places that one can identify so clearly, even after more than 50 years! It speaks of how careful are the English not to destroy their monuments.

As the would be robbers, Henry "Dutch" Holland is a man with a plan. He recognizes in his neighbor of the Lavender Hill rooming house, Alfred Pendlebury, a kindred soul that will see his proposal of how to steal the precious gold bullion from the Bank of England. It's a big operation, yet, only four people are needed to carry on the job.

This is a comedy of errors, where the best laid plans go awry in the small details the gang hadn't planned. The sure thing becomes a dead giveaway to the authorities once Holland and Pendlebury decide to go after the souvenir one young student bought in Paris that is part of the loot. Prior to that, the scenes in Paris at the Eiffel Tower was an original sequence for a movie that relies on intelligence rather than in overblown special effects.

Alec Guinness is charming as the master mind behind the heist. Stanley Holloway, a great English actor is magnificent as the man with an artistic eye, who almost derails the operation. Sid James and Alfie Bass contribute to make the film the joy it is with their comic presence. In a small cameo that comes and goes so quickly, we watch a young and elegant Audrey Hepburn makes an graceful appearance.

This is a film for all Ealing fans of all ages.
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Small Ealing comedy that still delivers.
Pedro_H6 October 2002
A banker decides to rob his own bank.

A classic small British film that punches above it weight. Good cast get their teeth in to an Oscar winning script. The kind of film they should show at films schools to show how good films are constructed and delivered. One of the top 100 comedy films ever made - although delivers small chuckles rather than out-and-out laughs.
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Funny, at times hilarious.
rmax30482318 January 2005
Ealing Studios turned out a series of comic gems in the late 40s and early 50s and this is a good example. Only a curmudgeon would not laugh aloud during some of the scenes.

The plot, briefly, involves a clever bank clerk (Guiness) developing a plan with a die caster (Holloway) to steal several million pounds of gold bullion, recast it into tourist knicknacks in the shape of Eiffel Tower paperweights, and ship it to Paris to sell on the black market. They recruit two professional thieves to help them.

It may not be Ealing's best comedy (my vote would be for "The Lady Killers") but it's more than funny enough. I'll just give three scenes as examples.

(1) Holloway and Guiness, two honest men, need to recruit what they call a "mob" but have no idea how to go about it. What I mean is -- how would YOU go about recruiting criminal assistants? What they do is go to crowded places of low repute -- saloons, prize fights, the underground -- and shout at each other through the noise about the safe being broken at such-and-such an address and all that money having to be left in it. Then they hole up at the address and wait for the burglars to arrive.

(2) A scene at the Eiffel Tower in which they discover that half a dozen of the gold paperweights instead of the usual leaden ones have been sold to some English schoolgirls. They watch horrified as the door closes and the elevator carrying the girls begins its descent, and they decide to rush down the tightly spiraling staircase to ground level, trying to beat the elevator. By the time they reach the street they've been spun around so many times that they can't stop laughing and are unable to stop twirling around until they fall down.

(3) After the robbery, in an empty warehouse soon to be searched by the police, Guiness must be tied up, gagged, and blindfolded with tape. Then his clothes must be torn and dirtied so that it appears he put up a fight before the gold was taken. But the police arrive too soon, and the others beat it, leaving Guiness standing alone, tied up, and blindfolded, but not dirty. He stumbles about blindly, trying to blow the tape from his mouth, getting his feet caught in discarded bicycle wheels, until he falls into the Thames.

Probably the weakest part of the movie is near the end, when police cars wind up chasing one another because of confusing messages. The scene could have been lifted from Laurel and Hardy. It's a little silly. (Why didn't Guiness and Holloway park the stolen car, get out, and walk away?) But that's a minor consideration.

What surprises me about some of these comedies is that they're able to make us laugh despite the dreary atmosphere. The streets of London look awfully dismal in this grainy black and white film. Some of them were still charred wrecks left over from the Blitz. But it doesn't dampen the comedy at all. Following the successful robbery a drunken Guiness and Holloway return to their boarding house to be chided by their landlady for being "naughty". One pulls the other aside, chuckling conspiratorially, and the two agree to call each other "Al" and "Dutch" -- two REAL BIG gangsters for you.

If you need to use up some neuropeptides this is your movie.
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The most exuberant of Ealing Comedies
UncleJack5 August 2006
This is a gentle understated English comedy, a classic example of Ealing Studios' output of the 1950s. But paradoxically what makes it most remarkable is its sheer exuberance, the unconcealed glee of Holland and Pendlebury as they revel in the success of their audacious plan. Their first meeting after seeing each other at the police station, the drunken return to their rooms after their celebratory meal and of course the famous descent of the Eiffel Tower, their laughter echoing the giggles of the schoolgirls spiralling round and round before falling dizzily out at the bottom.

Painting and sculpture were Pendlebury's wings, his escape from his "unspeakably hideous" business occupation. But when Holland delicately introduces him to his own dream of twenty years' to escape - and not just metaphorically - from life as a nonentity, Pendlebury is drawn in. The scenes in the Balmoral Private Hotel in Lavender Hill are outstanding, and the sparse dialogue allows Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway to shine as Holland suggests to Pendlebury how gold might be smuggled out of the country. "Hohohoho; By Jove, Holland, it is a good job we are both honest men." "It is indeed, Pendlebury."

Later in the film, the plot stands less well up to scrutiny but Guinness and Holloway are easily able to carry the viewers' attention. Chases that turn into farces often don't work in this style of British film, but here again Holland and Pendlebury carry such energy and excitement that they fit in well, and I am sure that even in nineteen fifties Britain, large numbers of the audience will have grasped the ironic humour of the policeman singing "Old MacDonald," in addition to those laughing at the straightforward ludicrousness of the scene.

Aficionados of British postwar comedy will enjoy this film, and because it lacks the dryness of say, "Kind Hearts and Coronets" or "The Ladykillers" it provides a more accessible introduction for those who are new to this most wonderful of genres.
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One of the most engaging and witty movie I have seen
ClassicMovieFans26 July 2005
The DVD used Audrey Hepburn's first movie appearance as a promotion. Together with the fact that Alec Guinness is the leading man, I immediately jumped at the chance of watching the film.

The film began with Alec Guinness recalling his life last year, as a 20-year bank clerk and how he plotted to steal a vast amount of gold. Stanley Holloway (who also starred as Eliza's father in My Fair Lady) and Alec Guinness made a wonderful couple. And watch out for the elegant Audrey Hepburn in the first 10 minutes of the movie.

The story unfolded nicely as Alec narrated how he formulated his plan, how he recruited partners to execute his well-thought plan and how, when their plan did go wrong, they improvised. The scene of them chasing after Englsih school girls at the Eiffel Tower in Paris is particularly impressive. It is as if they were flying in the air and laughing their hearts out on a merry-go-round. I kept wondering how modern movies did not make such shots any more. It was funny to see how they persisted in order to succeed. They were like serious school kids who was intent on completing their project by any means. Never did they think of betraying their team members.

With an excellent script, funny characters and a marvellous twist in the end, this movie is not a bit out of date. Love to watch it again soon.
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Crime doesn't pay
Petey-108 November 2000
Alec Guinness (1914-2000) plays a bank clerk who gets an idea to rob his own bank.He does that with the help of his friend Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway) and two professional criminals Lackery (Sid James) and Shorty (Alfie Bass).Lavender Hill Mob is brilliant crime comedy from 1951.The late Alec Guinness does amazing role work and the other actors do also superb job.You can also see the young and beautiful Audrey Hepburn playing Chiquita there.The movie has lots of marvelous scenes.One hilarious scene is the scene where the gang is trying to get to ship but are having all kind of problems with passports and stuff.And the car chase is absolutely brilliant.Watch this British classic movie.It won't let you down I guarantee it.
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Best Comedy Movie Ever.......
tmsindc-222 June 2001
In my opinion - this is the best comedy movie ever made. There are few movies that can still generate belly laughs two or three years after their release. This movie is still funny after more than fifty years! Plus it has some of the greatest comedy scenes ever filmed: the "my safe is broken and I have the whole payroll in it" scene; the two small-time thieves comparing resumes; Alec Guiness blending into the crowd of City bankers; and, of course, the famous last scene.
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The Underdog Bites Back
JamesHitchcock12 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The humour in this film starts with the title. Lavender Hill is a respectable middle-class area of London, so the idea of its being associated with a "mob", in the sense of a gang of criminals, is an incongruous one. This, however, is no ordinary mob. Its leader is himself impeccably respectable and middle class. Henry Holland is the archetypal city gent, a minor official with the Bank of England. Holland is regarded by his superiors as honest and conscientious, if dull and lacking in initiative, so is entrusted with the task of escorting gold bullion from the foundry to the Bank. He is, however, rather less honest than his superiors imagine; indeed, he is obsessed with the idea of stealing the gold in his care and escaping to live a life of luxury on the proceeds. The only reason he has not yet done so is that he knows he will not be able to sell the gold on the black market in Britain and cannot think of any way of smuggling it abroad under the noses of the police and Customs.

Holland's luck changes, however, when he makes the acquaintance of Alf Pendlebury, a manufacturer of tourist souvenirs. The two come up with a scheme to melt down the gold and to export it to France in the form of golden replicas of the Eiffel Tower, painted to look like the normal leaden ones that Pendlebury manufactures for the Paris souvenir trade. All that remains is to organise the robbery itself, which they achieve with the aid of two petty criminals. Things start to go wrong, however, when some of the golden models are accidentally put on sale and brought back to England after being bought by a party of schoolgirls.

Many of the Ealing comedies had as their subject the theme of the little man, as an individual or as part of a group, taking on the system, either by fair means or by foul. A group of Scottish islanders manage to hide a cargo of stolen whisky from the authorities. The poor relation of an aristocratic family murders several relatives on his way to a Ducal title. The inhabitants of a London suburb find a legal technicality that will enable them to get round the rationing laws. "The Lavender Hill Mob" fits in with this general theme. For all his bowler-hatted respectability, Holland is very much the little man, patronised and badly paid by his employers. When he is offered a pay rise, it is only of fifteen shillings (seventy-five pence) per week. He is forced to live in a drab and seedily genteel lodging-house, similar to the one in "The Ladykillers", another Ealing film with a crime theme. The London we see in some striking black-and white photography is an equally drab place, much of it still in ruins after wartime bombing. This is a film for everyone who has ever imagined taking revenge on his boss and escaping to a better life.

Alec Guinness was one of Britain's greatest movie actors, and played a major part in the success of the Ealing comedies. His performance here as Holland is perfectly judged. Holland is a reserved, diffident English gentleman, likable enough for us to sympathise him with his despite his criminal intentions. He receives good support from Stanley Holloway as Pendlebury and Sid James and Alfie Bass as their working-class sidekicks. There are some brilliantly funny scenes, such as the one where Holland and Pendlebury entrap the two crooks and then persuade them to support their scheme and the chase sequence where the police pursue the fleeing gang.

During the fifties there was a convention, enforced by the British Board of Film Censors, that films about crime could not show the villains succeeding in their illegal enterprises, which resulted in a number of films having a surprisingly moralistic ending tacked on to them. In "Kind Hearts and Coronets" the scriptwriters were able to turn this convention to their advantage by using it to end the film with a splendidly ironic and cynical twist. The ending to "The Lavender Hill Mob", by comparison, is disappointing. Holland is so much the underdog that we end up wanting him to get away with it. The character played by Dennis Price in "Kind Hearts", by contrast, may be the "poor relation", but forfeits our sympathy because he is as cold, arrogant and snobbish as any of his richer relatives, if not more so. The ending apart, however, "The Lavender Hill Mob" represents the Ealing comedies close to their best. 9/10
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"Run Dutch, Run"
bkoganbing14 October 2005
Ealing studios in Great Britain had a reputation for producing some very droll comedies in the post World War II years and this one was done when Ealing was at its height.

Alec Guinness is once again playing a mild mannered schnook of a man who no one notices at all. In fact his own superiors at his job, tell him to his face that his only virtue is a dull, honest dependability with a lack of imagination.

Boy how they were wrong. Guinness's job is to supervise the transfer of gold bullion from where it is smelted into bars to the Bank of England. Every working day he accompanies the gold in an armored truck to the bank. And Sir Alec's imagination has been working overtime as to how a robbery could be accomplished.

As he's discovered a long time ago, the problem isn't the robbery, it's the fencing of the loot. Well, bigger and more professional criminals have failed to lick that one on occasion.

Into Guinness's life walks Stanley Holloway who's the owner of a small foundry that makes lead souvenirs for sale. Another man with a dull life, looking for adventure. Guinness recognizes both a kindred spirit and a solution to his problem.

What makes The Lavendar Hill Mob work is the chemistry between Guinness and Holloway. It's so understated, but at the same time, so droll, funny, and touching. These two middle-aged men are living out a fantasy we'd all like to live, even if it means a touch of robbery. Guinness's character name is Henry Holland and Holloway is Alfred Pendlebury. As the friendship grows, they stop referring to each other as Mr. Holland and Mr. Pendlebury. Holloway even gives Holland the gangster nickname of Dutch.

They pick up two other amiable allies in petty crooks Sidney James and Alfie Bass. The robbery comes off pretty much as planned, but afterward things don't quite work out.

They use Holloway's foundry to make solid gold statues of the Eiffel Tower and send them to Paris to get them out of the country. What follows after that is some pretty funny situations, a mad run down the real Eiffel Tower and also one of the wildest police chase scenes ever filmed.

The run down the Eiffel Tower has always been a favorite of mine. When I was a lad, my parents took the family to Washington, DC for a sight seeing tour and I got the brilliant idea of walking down the Washington Monument to see the various commemorative stones in the wall of the Monument. Even after walking down, my whole family felt just like Guinness and Holloway.

Sir Alec Guinness got his first Oscar nomination for The Lavendar Hill Mob, but lost the big sweepstakes to Gary Cooper for High Noon. the Lavendar Hill Mob won an Oscar for the screenplay.

I understand there will be a remake of it coming out next year. I can't conceive of any remake possibly duplicating the chemistry between Guinness and Holloway.
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The Lavender Hill Mob
oOoBarracuda12 September 2016
Alec Guinness is the reason for that emoji with eyes replaced with hearts, right? I mean, seriously, I first met Alec Guinness while watching The Bridge on the River Kwai, and his turn as the seriously extreme Colonel Nicholson is one that will stay with the viewer long after the film ends. Guinness reintroduced himself to me in Lawrence of Arabia, another extreme role proving the man behind the roles that had blown me away was someone to see more of. I'm currently on a quest to see as many Guinness films as I can which led me to his turn in the 1951 film directed by Charles Crichton, The Lavender Hill Mob. In the Lavender Hill Mob, Guinness plays an unassuming bank clerk who decides to put a plan in motion to bring his life something more. In a classic British comedy, which exposed a whole new side of Alec Guinness, The Lavender Hill Mob is a film to see.

Holland (Alec Guinness) is a feeble, regimented, shy bank clerk, who is constantly reminded that he is not getting any younger. After 20 years, he has worked for the same bank as their agent who oversees the deliveries of gold bullion. After a chance meeting with a Mr. Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway), a maker of souvenirs, Holland realizes (in a very Leo Bloom a la The Producers way) that with Mr. Pendlebury's tools and expertise, the pair could steal gold from the bank and melt it into miniature Eiffel Tower souvenirs, smuggling massive amounts of money for themselves. After becoming committed to their ideas, the unlikely pair put a plan in motion with the help of a couple of career criminals, Lackery (Sidney James) and Shorty (Alfie Bass). Of course, the plan doesn't go as smoothly as it was first conceived, and it becomes a comedy of errors for the plan to succeed, a true treat for audiences.

British films are so fun, the comedic dialogue so unique to films that come from across the pond, is second to none. The writing in The Lavender Hill Mob is sensational, filled with jokes or subtle lines, it is a film that has something new to give upon each viewing. The comedic timing is also a standout in The Lavender Hill Mob. Each actor plays a great role and proves their talents for comedic acting with fantastic performances in The Lavender Hill Mob. Another surprising standout in this film was the score. People don't expect much in the way of a musical score in a comedy, The Lavender Hill Mob blows that stigma out of the water. The score, the comedic acting, the performances make The Lavender Hill Mob a film to be sure to watch, especially if you're tired of the mindless comedies that are so plentiful in American cinemas. The show stopper is Alec Guinness, I am not sure this wonderful film would be as wonderful without him. The Lavender Hill Mob certainly won't be the last Alec Guinness film that I see.
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Slight But Entertaining Ealing/Guinness Feature
Snow Leopard2 December 2004
This Ealing/Alec Guinness feature is slight but entertaining, somewhat silly yet often witty. Guinness and the rest of the cast and production take a mildly interesting and rather implausible story, and give it a feel that helps it rise above most movies of the genre.

Guinness and Stanley Holloway work well together, and they end up carrying most of the movie. Guinness is as good as ever, slipping right into the role, rarely missing a good moment, yet never calling undue attention to himself or his character. Sid James and Alfie Bass don't get nearly as much of a chance to stand out, but they do a creditable job when they have the opportunity.

The story is not much in terms of believability, but it features a number of clever touches, and it is generally entertaining. It's the kind of story that works much better with an understated approach. In recent years there have been an inordinate number of "heist" movies made, and almost all of them are unbearably inane and/or are senseless glorifications of crime and violence.

"The Lavender Hill Mob" makes neither of these mistakes, and it remains more worthwhile than any of the present-day efforts in the genre. It isn't among the very best of the Ealing movies, yet it works well as light entertainment.
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"The trouble with you, Holland, is that you haven't enough ambition."
ackstasis17 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It would seem that bank heists were a popular past-time in London in the early 1950s, since Ealing Studios dedicated their two most renown films to the topic. In the deliciously black comedy, 'The Ladykillers (1955),' a buck-toothed Alec Guinness led a band of laughable criminals in their efforts to forever silence an innocent old woman, their well-laid plans slowly unraveling with each attempt. 'The Lavender Hill Mob,' directed by Charles Crichton and released four years earlier, seems a bit unsure about whether it wants to be a dark comedy or a crime thriller, but it tackles both genres so convincingly that you're prepared to cut it some slack. Over the past few months, I've come to realise that Alec Guinness never plays the same character twice, always providing a persona that is as new and interesting as anything he has ever done {just compare, for example, Professor Marcus of 'The Ladykillers' with Henry Holland of this film. Both pictures required Guinness to play a relatively similar role, and yet he presents us with two startlingly-different eccentric personalities}.

Guinness once again shines as Henry Holland, a timid clerk at the Bank of England and the epitome of docility and dependability. However, for the past nineteen years, Holland has merely been biding his time, having to content himself with a meagre weekly income of "eight pounds, fifteen shillings, less deductions," despite having a potential fortune at his fingertips. When the right moment arrives, Holland plots to steal £1 million in gold bullion from his wealthy employer. However, it is a caper that cannot be executed without some additional assistance, and so Holland acquires the services of art aficionado Alfred Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway), and two small-time crooks, Lackery Smith (Sidney James) and Shorty Fisher (Alfie Bass). As with all films of this type, though Holland's perfect scheme initially appears to have been a complete success, it soon begins to unwind in the most tragic manner possible.

There's a wonderful sequence set in Paris, after Holland and Pendlebury discover that six of their solid-gold Eiffel Towers have accidentally been sold to a group of English schoolgirls. As the two men traipse down the Tower's staircase in pursuit of the girls' elevator, their hats and coats are flung into the open air, where they flutter unreservedly in the breeze. Spinning deliriously around the lengthy spiral staircase, the two men break into uproarious laughter, becoming as feverishly giddy as the schoolgirls whom they are pursuing. Upon reaching solid ground, the Holland and Pendlebury clutch dizzily at each other, the world spiraling before their eyes, simple unable to stand upright as their quarry departs in a bus. Little do our criminals know that this moment of exhilarating freedom that they just experienced was the beginning of their downfall, and that those pesky English schoolgirls – and one stubborn one, in particular – would lead to the demise of Holland's flawless scheme.
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superb Ealing comedy
TheNorthernMonkee22 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers

Only seven years into his illustrious career, Alec Guinness would feature as Henry "Dutch" Holland in "The Lavender Hill Mob". Expanding on a superb relationship with the Ealing film corporation, Guinness would produce another superb comedy feature with a film like this.

Henry Holland works for a bank and runs a typical monotonous lifestyle. That is until he encounters Alfred Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway). Pendlebury is a creator of novelty Eiffel Tower statues and upon meeting Holland, the two choose to combine their skills to monetary advantages. Recruiting help of Lackery (Sid James) and Shorty Fisher (Alfie Bass), the two men concoct a plot to steal large amounts of gold bullion.

With a comedy cast including Guinness, Holloway and James, the cast of this film is superb in acting capability and is never short of ability.

Script included, "The Lavender Hill Mob" is a clever film. Whilst not of the same standard as "The Ladykillers" (1955), this film is a good laugh and well worth of the title of Ealing.

All in all, like most good Ealing comedies "The Lavender Hill Mob" is a fun film with a decent script. It's far from perfect and compared with rivals it's inferior, but with performances like Guinness, it's well worth a watch and it'll certainly provoke a fun reaction.
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Less is very much more!
stormhav12 December 2002
After watching this film you should ask yourself just how did they do it so well without the aid of high tech gimmics. Not the heist but the film itself. A wonderful example of understated pace and great wit. The script, the scenes, the acting are all perfectly matched. This is also one of those rare examples of the British sense of humor on full display. Watch it if you can catch it.
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not quite a comedy not quite a drama
MartinHafer1 July 2005
Although most Americans have little knowledge of his work other than Star Wars, Alec Guinness produced an amazing body of work--particularly in the 1940s-1950s--ranging from dramas to quirky comedies. I particularly love his comedies, as they are so well-done and seem so natural and real on the screen--far different from the usual fare from Hollywood.

This is an excellent film overall, but is a little less comedic in tone than some other Guinness films. This doesn't make it bad--just a little lighter in the comedy department and a little heavier on drama. It's the story of some unprofessional robbers and their attempt at a huge heist. All the intricate details have been worked out, all the participants coached and re-coached and all appears to be going like clockwork,....until,.......

I won't say more, as it would ruin the surprises along the way. Just understand that the acting, writing and direction are impeccable.
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A bit of an Eiffel
Lejink17 October 2015
Yet another quirky, fun Ealing Comedy with main man Alec Guinness again taking the lead as the dull, downtrodden gold bullion inspector who waits twenty years to come up with a foolproof inside-job heist to foster his dream of living it up in some exotic South American country. His unlikely accomplices are old lags Sid James and Alfie Bass, while his right hand man is antique reproducer Stanley Holloway who unwittingly inspires Guinness's gold-plated idea for concealing the goods.

As ever, it's all very stylish and yet knockabout stuff, from the bizarre way Guinness and Holloway "advertise" their need for their henchmen, the crazy mixed-up car chase through London, their dizzying race down the Eiffel Tower, the visit to the young girls school to attempt to get back the six golden Eiffels, another crazy mixed-up chase at the Police Training School not to mention the delightfully concise and unexpected resolution at the end.

Within these disparate elements there are many memorable details which just stick in the brain like Guinness reading pulp fiction to his avid OAP landlady, a fully tied up and gagged Guinness throwing himself on the ground and into the Thames to make the robbery look real, Holloway's absent-minded pilfering of a street trader's painting ("It was a Landseer last week!"), which jeopardises the operation, Guinness's escape in and out of a London Tube Station to escape the pursuing policemen, Guinness and Holloway's hilarious attempts to board a boat in the face of French red-tape inscrutability and even a blink and you'll miss it cameo by a very young Audrey Hepburn as a grateful chanteuse down Mexico way, all this and more might give you an idea of the structured yet skittish way it's all knitted together, although what a crazy patchwork quilt it is in the end.

Best not to examine the plot strands too much and how they go together, just go with the flow as they say and savour in particular Guinness's admirable submersion in his role as well as director Crichton's breakneck direction style - especially the descent from the Eiffel Tower which will have you reeling.

I rather agree with the sentiment that they should have all, or at least Guinness, gotten away with it, but I suppose the "crime doesn't pay" moral was important for the austere times, although as I said earlier the adroit way old Alec gets his own comeuppance makes for a memorable ending.

Any Ealing Comedy, especially those starring Guinness, is worth watching and this crazy caper is definitely one of them.
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Hilarious Twist Ending.
anaconda-4065813 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Lavender Hill Mob (1951): Dir: Charles Crichton / Cast: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James, Alfie Bass, Marjorie Fielding: Hilarious account of amateur crime as a bank clerk sees an opportunity to steal gold bars and smuggle them out of the country as miniature Eifel Towers. When six of the miniatures are sold the duo struggle to retrieve them thus spinning everything out of whack. Clever right up to its conclusion, which gains the biggest laugh. Directed by Charles Crichton who takes what seems like a regular crime scheme and adds hilarious spins on it that pay off in its concluding laugh. Alec Guinness as the bank clerk steals the film with a wonderful clever comic performance that ranks amongst his finest. He narrates the film and details the operation and the crime until the ending places everything in perspective in one of the greatest comic payoffs that one could ask for. Stanley Holloway as his neighbour gets sucked into the scheme because one bad move deserves another, and both arrive at the same blatant lunacy. Sidney James and Alfie Bass are given roles as fellow crooks that are not quite as broad but they certainly play off two guys contacted to be part of a scheme that can see no right answer. The seemingly great plan doesn't go as planned and everything leads back to the beginning where all is not as it seems, but the narrator tells a great tale. Score: 9 / 10
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Brilliant and funny
mim-828 June 2009
"The Lavender Hill mob" is one of the best comedies of Ealing Studios in it's post-war period, in which it produced numerous classics of British cinema, before it's 1955 sale to BBC.This film is a light, witty and incredibly funny comedy caper,tightly packed in 78 minutes,(you'd wish it was longer, but it's just as it should be) so it doesn't waste a second or becomes boring or predictable. To the contrary, there are twists and turns on every corner. It was directed in style, by late master, Charles Crichton, and you can't avoid laughing out loud to the story of the "ordinary" man pursuing a lifestyle to which he is "unaccustomed".

The roles are superb, and the dialogs great. It deservedly won it's Academy and BAFTA awards, and they just don't make movies like that any more. A must see.
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small comedy remembered for early Audrey Hepburn
blanche-213 August 2005
This is a small but enjoyable comedy mostly remembered today for an early Audrey Hepburn appearance at the beginning of the film. Blink and you miss her, but she is beautifully chic. The story concerns the reminisences of a criminal, marvelously played by Alec Guinness, who, after 20 long years escorting gold bullion shipments, finally figures out how to disguise the gold and move it out of England. The man who supplies the means is Stanley Holloway.

This is a fun film where the main theme is that the joy is in the ascent and not necessarily making it to the top of the ladder. The word ascent brings the word descent to mind, and there is a dizzying one from the top to the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, as the two chase some schoolgirls who inadvertently got their hands on gold souvenirs. There is also an excellent car chase.

You're really pulling for the "bad guys" - although you can't call them that - all the way. It's a charming comedy, not up there with "The Ladykillers" or "Kind Hearts and Coronets," but still wonderful.
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Witty, deviously clever and lots of fun.
Parsons1 November 1998
This is the kind of small yet concise and entertaining movie that I find mouth wateringly delicious. It's gentle and amusing story of a bungled robbery (that we see all to little of in these times of the ultra violent heist movie) really clicks home the message that you can make a decent crime film without including death or bad language.
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Ealing is very appealing.
Cinema_Fan6 October 2006
Did you know that Robert Shaw (1927 - 1978), aka Quint in the 1975 movie Jaws played a minor non-speaking role, uncredited role that is, here? As well as a walk on part by the then up and coming Audrey Hepburn (1929 - 1993). Apart from all that, The Lavender Hill Mob brings together an array of British talents, or other wise, be they in front of the camera or not. The slender bespectacled Sir Alec Guinness (1914 - 2000), sets himself against the stocky and charming Stanley Holloway (1890 - 1982), (who once faired against Rex Harrison and, again, Ms Hepburn in the 1964 movie My Fair Lady, as Alfred P. Doolittle in which he was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the 1965 Academy Awards). An interesting trade-off in both personality and ability by these two giants of the classical period of British cinema.

With an interesting premise from both screenwriter, an ex-policeman turned writer, T.E.B. Clarke (1907 - 1989), and The Bank of England, who set up a committee to devise the plot for Lavender….when being asked for advice from said screenwriter on how would it be at all possible to commit such a robbery. With a clever and witty, and at best dark and provocative script that draws the two hapless and benign men together, that are facing their winter years with no prospects of security and prosperity. A sinister plot is finely unfolded before our eyes, as these two sheepish misfits are, with a twist of fate slowly transformed into old dogs rather than wolves in sheep's clothing.

With elaborate cinematography by Douglas Slocombe, born 1913, whose work is a masterpiece of movie history as to boast the likes of Hue and Cry (1947), Mandy (known as Crash of Silence in the USA,1952). The Smallest Show on Earth (1957), Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), to the iconic Indiana Jones movies, plus the Never Say Never Again James Bond movie of 1983, and the examples are many. His portrayal of the criminal atmosphere is moody and bleak, in places, considering this is very early 1950's London, and an Ealing Studio production too, which had succumbed to the perils of World War Two, we see the City's streets and buildings still suffering in its wake, the dirty and grime ridden St. Paul's Cathedral is a fine example. This London is limping along to the tunes of rationing, and poverty, which did not end, for the ration book at least, until 1954.

The irony here is that amidst all these backward and enduring times, the new era of a post war Europe that we see in Lavender….are the traits to the beginnings of the new technological age, the dawn of the 21st Century. In so far as the police and their new scientific and counter criminal methods, note the "The Camera Cracks Crime" poster for the first stages of CCTV at a London Police Convention, that today owe its success to the then newly born Age of Aquarius.

This is the image that Charles Crichton (1910 - 1999), the director of A Fish Called Wanda (1988) is depicting here also; this crime caper gone wrong is a stark reminder of the harsh times that England was suffering. With its crossover of pre World War prides and the birth of this new age society, for the wrong reasons, that is now poorer and just as dangerous and the will to take the risk is more prominent as it ever was. This crossover is carried by the old dogs and their employment of two modern day criminals; one Sidney James (1913 - 1976) of the Carry On establishment and the pint sized Alfie Bass (1921 - 1987). With this team of hardened and experienced criminals, plus the, ironically, naive and inexperienced intellectual brain power taking control, this is disillusioned middle class England meets working class desperation, where toward the end, trust is a friendless word, and morels are few and far between. In hindsight, this makes up for a jolly good crime caper, particularly at the movies casting of an inept and complacent Police Force, through their bumbling and short sightedness, an Ealing ploy for comic relief or a stab at authority in general perhaps.

Then again, this is an Ealing Studio production after all, and it wouldn't be doing its job other wise, would it?
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Leaves the Godfather Mob standing
chaswe-2840229 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
For some inexplicable reason several reviewers of the Ealing masterpieces keep repeatedly referring to them as "little", or "small budget". Since when was size a factor of the slightest importance in the quality of art ? What films are "big" or "great" for instance ? Cleopatra ? Titanic ? Infinitely preferable are these Ealing films of civilisation, with their humour, humanity, wit and charm; greater by far than dumb transatlantic notions of being brutally "great" again. But quantity before quality is the watchword. Perhaps studio bosses impress each other by the magnificent scale of their losses.

Everything worth saying here has already been said, and the only point worth mentioning in this review is the objection about crime not being allowed to pay in these tales from a former age. The ending makes it clear that his six gold Eiffel towers paid Dutch Holland for a very enjoyable year in Rio, before his courteous arrest, so the "crime does not pay" lesson was not exactly drastic. Worth it, just to get a kiss from Audrey. Presumably the rest of the desperate gangster mobsters were picked up earlier, but then they were not the mastermind, or godfather of the caper. Ah well, retribution eventually comes to us all for our sins.
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Ealing's trademark anarchy
nqure4 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
One of the strength's of this excellent comedy, wonderfully played by Guinness & Holloway as an unlikely criminal duo with support of a cast of other familiar faces, is TEB 'Tibby' Clarke's imaginative script which takes an absurd premise and spins it out to its comedic conclusion.

Very often I enjoy the set-up and premise of a Ealing comedy as they contain lots of characterisation and little details that then find later expression as the plot gathers pace. For instance, the down at heel boarding house filled with little old ladies, one of whom later appeared in 'The Ladykillers'.

It's these little gems of observation as well as the main story that make this film memorable. Early in the film, Holland's ordered existence includes reading pulp thrillers with US criminal slang to one elderly lady as she does her knitting, listening intently and providing commentary on the plot. Later, after the robbery, we see her sitting at tea with two policemen & asking one of them, using contemporary slang, about who they think did the job. The bemused policemen are taken aback, anticipating Mrs Wilberforce talking about 'her aliens' to the desk officers in 'The Ladykillers'.

Behind these apparently quaint English Ealing comedies lies real anarchy & subversive wit.
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