Today: February 29, 2024

Lavender Hill Mob, The

Blink and you will miss the brief and surprise walk-on part of the then un-famous Audrey Hepburn (who goes uncredited) – one of the many gems to be found within The Lavender Hill Mob (1951).

Blink and you’ll miss the brief walk-on by the then unknown Audrey Hepburn (who goes uncredited) – one of the many gems to be found within The Lavender Hill Mob (1951). Despite knocking on for 60, this comedy caper is as hilarious now as it was back in post-war Britain, thanks to a seamless script (TEB Clarke) and the faultless performance of the legendary Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway and fine supporting cast of Alfie Bass and Sid James.

 

Directed by Charles Crichton, Gusiness stars as as Henry Holland, an underpaid mild-mannered, bespectacled bank clerk, the brains behind a £1 million gold bullion heist from his employers. He then sets about smuggling them out of the country to Paris with the help of his friend Alfred Pendlebury (Holloway), a manufacturer of cheap paperweights, by melting down the gold into the form of Eiffel Tower souvenirs. Along the way, they recruit two petty crooks, Lackery (James) and Shorty (Bass). At first, it seems to be the perfect crime but without twists and turns along the way, it would hardly make for good comedy. Yes, it all starts to go spectacularly down south.

 

Although it may not be of the same high caliber as the Ealing Studio masterpieces, The LadyKillers (1955) and Kind Hearts And Coronets (1946) in which Alec also starred, The Lavender Hill Mob is certainly a sharply observed crime comedy that earned Guiness an Oscar nomination (losing to Gary Cooper for High Noon) catapulting him to stardom in Hollywood with Clarke winning the Best Story and Screenplay. Fully restored and back in cinemas, the film casts shame over modern-day mockney British crime and comedy films. Danny Dyer and the like, take note.

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