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The Lavender Hill Mob

7.51 h 18 min1951U
Alec Guinness stars in this hilarious Ealing comedy about a timid bank clerk who yearns to be rich and so attempts to steal from his work. But then his plan goes very awry...Watch out for a cameo from a young Audrey Hepburn. 1951
Alec GuinnessStanley HollowaySidney James
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Supporting actors
Alfie Bass
Michael Balcon
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4.6 out of 5 stars

532 global ratings

  1. 76% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 16% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Mrs. S. D. R.Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 07 December 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
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This film will now always have special resonance for me as my father - a young man in the 1950s when it came out, told us about it this last summer - just weeks before he died. He told us how his brother, my uncle who was a writer, thought it was brilliant and the funniest thing he'd ever seen. It had us laughing all these decades later too, and the combination of Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway is perfect, with Sid James and his other sidekick giving great support. The story begins in South America, with a cameo from Audrey Hepburn, just at the start of her career. Two urbane, worldly men, one of whom is Alec Guinness's character, chatting in a chic and exotic watering-hole surrounded by the rich and influential locals . Then comes the flashback. Alec Guinness's character was, we are told, employed by the Bank of England, and has long dreamed of stealing the gold he's responsible for transporting safely, abroad to make his fortune. By coincidence, a manufacturer of metal souvenirs who has a smelting factory, moves into his boarding house - although why someone rich enough to own such a factory would need to live in a boarding house is questionable. The pair become friends and decided to steal the gold in a heist - for which they need the support of two other men - melting down the gold bars and turning them into solid gold Eiffel towers for transport to France - ostensibly as "souvenirs". Their plan quickly goes awry thanks to a mistake made by a souvenir sales lady in the Eiffel Tower who mistakenly opens the wrong box of souvenirs and sells of a pile of solid gold Eiffel Towers to a group of small English schoolgirls; one of whom is friendly with a policeman and wants to give him a present. The hilarity is generated by the desperation of the two crooks to follow the girls hoe and exchange for their sold gold Eiffel Towers the cheap souvenir versions plus a sweetener of a ten shilling note. Most of the girls are only too eager, but the stubborn little girl who's bought hers for the policeman is determined that he should have the original that she bought for him when she was actually in the Eiffel Tower. Already under police suspicion, the behaviour and desperation of the crooks pursuit of the little girl leads them to test the gold souvenir. The rest of the story plays out to the very entertaining end of the film where we rejoin Alec Guinness and his urbane companion in the South American bar...and you see the outcome as they get up to depart. Just brilliant and a properly rounded off film which you don't get many of these days.
3 people found this helpful
G. RobinsonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 December 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Entertaining stuff.
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If someone where to ask me to name my favourite film box sets from my collection, I might mention the beautifully presented six disc Alien Anthology or perhaps the magnificent six disc Lord of the Rings Trilogy or even my steel box Blade-Runner four disc set. However after a little more thought it would probably be this fabulous four film Ealing Comedy collection. With perhaps the four best known films from the late forties to the mid fifties each starring the incomparable and supremely talented Sir Alec Guinness along with a host of other talented performers such as Peter Sellers, Stanley Holloway, Sid James, Herbert Lom and the delectable Joan Greenwood. You might not recognise her name but you will almost certainly recognise her voice.

Presented in an unusual opening flower like cardboard case with some lovely stills from each film the case feels solid, secure and the discs are well protected. There are supposed to be some art cards included but my second hand copy did not include them, which was a shame.

To try and list or grade any of these films in some sort of artistic or qualitative order is like deciding which is best an Orange or an Apple and a bit of a waste of time as each viewer will have a favourite based on his or her own sensibilities. Each has it's own unique qualities, but there is one thing you can say that applies to all of them, they are all supremely entertaining, beautifully written, have fabulous performances, are directed with a sense of style and fun and are unashamedly old fashioned. Made between 1949 and 1955 in a post war orgy of inventiveness, Ealing, even though they were not a big studio, managed to produce films of such quality and freshness that the films have remained popular even to this day over seventy years later. Out of the ashes of a smashed and very poor country Ealing films seemed to epitomise the “stiff upper lip” attitude that helped citizens deal with the very real hardship of continued rationing and shortages. The studio ethos of investing in talent, taking risks and producing quality product is something producers today could consider as a business model.

Laughter and a real sense of subversive dark humour is never in short supply in all four and permeates each script and screenplay like the letters in a stick of rock. It's part of the DNA, ingrained into each aspect of production even down to the set design and lighting. This is especially so as seen in The Ladykillers, look out for Mrs Wilberforce's odd and strangely shaped house in which much of the action takes place and the striking colour scheme within. Each is an invigorating and fairly dark tale in it's own right, however for me personally, Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Ladykillers just pip The Lavender Hill Mob and The Man in the White Suit to the post. That is not to say these two films are not great because they are. Mob is a “mouse that turned” kind of heist/chase movie with a twist, whilst White Suit is a fairly political thriller about science and innovation and it's inevitable impact on those happy with the status quo and the ramifications for ordinary working class people. Very funny it most certainly is with a little bit of social commentary thrown in for good measure. All four films as you would expect are unburdened with any political correctness, gender politics or any kind of messaging whatsoever and although this can sometimes backfire, for the most part it's refreshing to see films as purely entertainment without issues of this sort. With nearly six hours of fabulous entertainment from a studio firing on all cylinders, this set is great value for money. And at only a few pounds you really can't go wrong if you like your humour as black as pitch and very funny.

The films are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33-1 except The Ladykillers which is in 1.66-1. This will produce black bars down the sides of a 16-9 standard TV. Most modern TV's can adjust the presentation ratio to remove these bars and give you a full image, however this will alter the framing of each shot and spoil the original intention of the cinematographer. It's best to leave well alone and watch them in the aspect ratio originally intended. The picture quality on these four films represents the quality of filming at the time of production. They have not, as far as I am aware, been cleaned up or digitized to improve picture quality. However film cameras from the forties and fifties captured a very clean crisp image which has survived very well and transferred to DVD with no issues I could see. The sound quality as you might expect on all is a little disappointing with some background hiss occasionally and the odd pop, but nothing to write home about and unless you are a sound aficionado you probably won't even notice. Considering the dark material and the rather large, if often devilishly funny, death count, I'm surprised that all films get a U certificate meaning suitable for all.

I was hoping that there may have been some extras bundled onto the discs such as making of documentaries but other than the original theatrical trailer the disc is bare. I suspect on the more expensive Blu Ray special editions there will be some interesting material. However I'm happy with just the film themselves.

As with any product from this time period there are bound to be a few examples of outdated and inappropriate language, sexual politics and race issues may be evident, however if you can accept it as a product of it's time and not dwell on such matters there is so much to enjoy. Films from this period and later do remind us how far society has come and changed for the better in a fairly short time.

A product of the time surely but still very very funny.
ErehwonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 November 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
An absolute masterpiece
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In his other famous opus released two years later, “The Leopard”, Visconti will describe the decline of the Sicilian nobility, replaced by an affairist and trivial bourgeoisie. Here, closer to Vittorio de Sica, he is interested in the misery of the people of the Mezzogiorno in the post-war period. Fundamentally rooted in Italian neo-realism, “Rocco and His Brothers” tells an extraordinary family tragedy – reminiscent in some aspects of Coppola’s “The Godfather” – against the backdrop of a rural exodus of a family from southern Italy to the lure of the Lombard capital. This long fresco tells us about the difficulties faced by the members of this family of immigrants from the interior who have fled Basilicata and the psychological changes this causes in them.

The starting point of the story is relatively simple: To escape poverty, a widow and four of her five sons move to Milan, where the fifth has just got engaged to Ginetta (Claudia Cardinale), a middle-class girl. They plan to be accommodated by the in-laws, who refuse for lack of space. They end up in a slum, in the basement of an ABR building.

All the brothers are looking for work: Simone (excellent Renato Salvatori), Rocco (Alain Delon, touched by grace), Ciro and Luca (both more discreet). Simone becomes a boxer at the local club and aims for a professional career. He falls in love with Nadia (bright Annie Girardot), a 25-year-old prostitute who will never love him. She will finally fall in love with his brother Rocco, the same one who will be much more skillful with gloves in hand on the ring, leading Simone, jealous, into a black rage. But Rocco refuses any confrontation with his brother. As such, a terrible scene censored and reintegrated into this new version is the turning point of the film.

However, to reduce “Rocco and his brothers” to this opposition between the two brothers would be to ignore Visconti’s cinematographic mastery. Thus, through the prism of this a priori Manichaean history, the director explores a plurality of social and political themes: the uprooting of a family from the south to the north of Italy, the living conditions of the industrial proletariat, the ambition, family honour and the hope of social elevation. A landscape of violence where the infinite tenderness of one and the bestial brutality of the other are opposed. Failed boxer, unhappy lover, Simone sinks into delinquency and crime: theft, rape, prostitution and murder.

Every time, Rocco covers him and pays for him. In the end, he’s as guilty as his brother. Doesn’t he shout it himself at the end?

Ciro sums up the essential theme of the film’s morality when he explains to Luca that Rocco is a saint, that he forgives everything, always, and that’s exactly what he shouldn’t have done with Simone. I totally share Ciro’s point of view: Rocco is as guilty as Simone, both are linked in the tragedy. Wherever and at all times, in the face of repeated and more and more brutal criminality, forgiveness and tolerance are not the answer; they only make things worse. A lesson that is still on today.
PhiloctetesReviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 March 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Other 'Lavender Menace', On The Other Side Of The Pond
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Twenty odd years before lesbians strove to make their problems issues for radical feminism, or whatever, a small team of men in Blighty fought to liberate themselves from another kind of exclusion: exclusion from fine living.

Henry "Call me Dutch" Holland is a wage slave responsible for shipments of gold bullion to and from the foundry where the bars are made. When a new inmate at his boarding house, Pendlebury, is discovered to own a foundry used to mass produce tourist tat, Holland sees an opportunity and together they recuit a team of get-rich-quicksters who can snatch the gold and smuggle it abroad. When we first meet Henry he is living large in Rio, throwing money about, drinking and snuggling with - yes, that really is her - Audrey Hepburn's Chiquita. So, everything must have gone according to plan, right? Don't you believe it.

Another movie to tick off the list (I'm whittling down Barry Norman's Top 100 as and when), The Lavender Hill Mob is an amusing, amiable comedy, Guinness vaguely reminding me of David Mitchell (perhaps an updated remake is in order?). Stanley Holloway looks familiar but I can't place him, but everybody remembers Sid James, and then there are a couple of faces from Genevieve (1953). A small film, around 75mins, no hardship to watch it again and again. For me, the funniest bit is the spiral staircase chase sequence.

Criticisms. The two professional thieves are undeveloped as characters and vanish unconvincingly in the latter part of the film.

I'd suggest Kind Hearts And Coronets (for Guinness), and Genevieve (for Gregson, who plays a cop here), have to be viewing priorities if you haven't already seen them. Those done, make The lavender Hill Mob your next priority. You'll never look at tourist souvenirs the same way again.
Charlene G.Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 May 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Spiffing collection what!
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If you are interested in seeing Britain in a different era get this, if you want to see some great British actors in some of their earliest roles get it, want to see something that doesn't pander to political correctness, again get this.
Kind Hearts is the stand out title in the collection, as it has such a strong cast and storyline. Alec Guinness plays eight of the characters and does a marvelous job of imbueing each with their own quirks and personality. My next favourite was The Lavender Hill Mob, again with Alec Guiness in one of the staring roles. The Man in the White Suit and Ladykillers are slightly weaker titles, which at times descend into farce reminiscent of American slapstick which was still popular at the time. That said, White Suit does provide an interesting satirical message about corporate greed standing in the way of genuine human progress, something that sadly happens all too often.
For me the collection was a great purchase, which I'll hang onto and doubtless rewatch more than once.
ElleppiReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 October 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
One of the milestone of (not only) British comedy cinema, on an excellent blu ray. A genius film from Fish called Wanda Director
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AN unstoppable and genius old classic comedy from legendary Ealing Studios (that brought us stuff like Lady Killers and Dead of Night): some of their films became the prototypes for specific subgenre and will have a big influence on international cinema since then.
This one is by Charles Chricton, who will direct A Fish Called Wanda almmost 40 years later, and is a crazy and somehow dark comedy about cheating, gambling and the thin line between innocence and crime, set between england and france, frantically back and forth and constantly on-the-run.
A perfectly oiled plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat to see who is going to make it and how they are going to get away with their hoax.
Starring A young and already fabulous Alec Guinnes and a bunch of fantastic supporting actors.
The blu ray presents an excellent HD transfer with some interesting extra (from a fantastic interview to the author of the story to an introduction by Martin Scorsese).
6 people found this helpful
Just a customerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 November 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Lavender Hill Mob
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This is a great crime caper,and very much like the other Ealing Films,so if you like The Titfield Thunderbolt,Passport To Pimlico,and the other Ealing greats,i feel sure ,that this will please you.There is a great cast,Alec Guiness is overseeing the movement of Gold Bars,by van,he meets Stanley Holloway ,who plays a man that makes Eiffel Towers,and sends them to France.They hatch a plan,and steal gold bars,melt them down,and cast them as the Eiffel Towers.This gets the gold out of the Country,but,of course,it goes wrong,the gold ones get sold to tourists by a missunderstanding.There is some chasing around the Eiffel Tower,to get the gold back,(the mix up comes due to a similar sounding leter,R,and the Frence interpetration,gold R marked crates got sold).The action goes back to Blighty,and ends with a chase.The 2 stars end up stealing a Police Car,and a Policeman flags them down,for a lift,he stands on the runing board,and hangs onto the car.Not just a great Film,but a Social Document,can you imagine that today,hanging on to a moving car?There would be a risk assesment,high vis. waistcoats too.The Cop hears a radio message,and the villans get found out.Stanley Holloway gets caught,Alec Guiness escapes,he then spends time abroad,having parties,somewhere in the sun,i do not think a Country is mentioned.The Law then catches up with him,of course,the baddies never win in the old Films.I don`t know if this was Law,or just an unwritten Law.So a great tale,people like Sid James,in the smaller parts,and History for younger people to see.
FJYReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 March 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
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I bought this DVD as a gift for an elderly relative. I haven't seen it myself, but they enjoyed it. I've seen clips of it, though and it does seem rather dated now. I guess that applies to most films of this vintage, though. I give it three stars, as suggested by my relative.
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