Today: May 22, 2024

The Lavender Hill Mob

There are restorations … and then there are restorations … And, when it comes to 4K, StudioCanal are amongst the very best in the business. So, it should be no surprise that their latest release is absolutely stunning.

Written by T.E.B. Clarke (winner of the Best Original Screenplay Oscar), directed by Charles Crichton (A Fish Called Wanda) and starring Alec Guinness (Kind Hearts & Coronets), Stanley Holloway (My Fair Lady), Sid James (Carry On films) and Alfie Bass (Alfie), The Lavender Hill Mob is one of Britain’s most enduring comedies — and a perennial favourite with Ealing Studio fans. All of which means that StudioCanal’s latest release is guaranteed to find favour with film buffs and collectors alike.

Henry Holland (Guinness) has worked faithfully for 20 years as a bank transfer agent, supervising gold bullion deliveries. A shy man, completely inconsequential to his employers, he has long dreamt of a way to execute his plan of the perfect gold robbery — the only catch being how to move the gold on once stolen. One day, he befriends Pendlebury (Holloway), a maker of souvenirs. When Holland remarks that, with Pendlebury’s smelting equipment, he could easily forge the gold into harmless-looking toys, a plot is hatched that will take them from the grime of the docklands to the glamour of Paris.

T.E.B. Clarke was famously inspired to write the screenplay while researching jewellery heists for the film, Pool Of London. He was so committed to getting the details right that he even consulted with the Bank of England on the script.

Shot on location in the streets of a London that still carried the scars of the Blitz — and featuring a host of character actors — there’s something undeniably British about this comedy. Yet its theme is universal — the little man, ground down and unappreciated, finally getting the chance to have his moment in the sun. Guinness is, of course, as brilliant as ever as the retiring Henry Holland, but the film would be nothing without its ensemble cast, who add charm and chuckles in equal measure.

For those interested in the technical details of this visually-impressive gem, The Lavender Hill Mob was restored using a 35mm duplicating positive, as the original negative was unavailable.Silver Salt Restoration restored and colour graded the film producing a new 4K DCP, HDR Dolby Vision and HD master.  

Re-released in UK cinemas on 29th March, as a 4K UHD Collector’s Edition, and on Digital streaming services from 22nd April, this new 4K restoration, is part of a wider celebration by StudioCanal and UK cinemas of the Golden Age of Ealing, when it was run by Michael Balcon.  

The ‘Once More with Ealing’ season will see audience-favourites screening in cinemas, including Kind Hearts & Coronets, Whisky Galore! and Passport To Pimlico, all of which celebrate their 75th Anniversary this year. 

StudioCanal will also be releasing Kind Hearts & Coronets on UHD for the first time on 22nd April. Lesser-known Ealing dramas The Bells Go Down, Cage of Gold and Lease of Life will be released on their Vintage Classics label later in the year. 

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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