The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Directed by Charles Crichton

One of Alec Guinness’ most engaging performances is that of Henry Holland, a bookish, somewhat officious seeming bank clerk who plans to steal a fortune in gold from his own bank in The Lavender Hill Mob (part of the Alec Guinness Collection).

A quiet clerk working at the bank, and seen as an unambitious man, Holland has been planning his caper for years. His motivation is his fantasy – a life completely different from the quiet one he leads. He dreams of a problem free, tropical existence as a problem free, big spender. He has devised an ingenious plan but has been waiting to put everything in order and to acquire the people he needs to pull off the job.

Conditions at his job change, and he’s forced to act. Happily, at the same time he meets a new neighbour (Stanley Holloway) who is the perfect accomplice as he provides the key to getting the gold out of the country.

As with any caper, especially a comic one, things go awry. The comedy develops out of this and the way the gang handles their problems. The film is especially delightful in the partnership between the Guinness and Holloway characters.

The end result is a great comedy. And the smile on Guinness’ face at the end of the film perfectly matches the smile on the faces of audience.

The Alec Guinness Collection:

  • Kind Hearts & Coronets
  • Lavender Hill Mob
  • The Man in the White Suit
  • The Captain’s Paradise
  • The Ladykillers

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