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With The Lavender Hill Mob, Ealing clicks with another comedy winner.

Story is notable for allowing Alec Guinness to play another of his w.k. character roles. This time, he is the timid escort of bullion from the refineries to the vaults. For 20 years he has been within sight of a fortune, but smuggling gold bars out of the country is a tough proposition. Eventually, with three accomplices, he plans the perfect crime. Bullion worth over £1 million is made into souvenir models of the Eiffel Tower and shipped to France.

One of the comedy highspots of the film is a scene at a police exhibition where Guinness and his principal accomplice (Stanley Holloway) first become suspect. They break out of the cordon, steal a police car, and then radio phony messages through headquarters. This sequence and the other action scenes are crisply handled, with a light touch.

Guinness, as usual, shines as the trusted escort, and is at his best as the mastermind plotting the intricate details of the crime. Holloway is an excellent aide, while the two professional crooks in the gang (Sidney James and Alfie Bass) complete the quartet with an abundance of cockney humor.

1952: Best Story & Screenplay.

Nomination: Best Actor (Alec Guinness)

The Lavender Hill Mob


  • Production: Ealing. Director Charles Crichton; Producer Michael Balcon, Michael Truman; Screenplay T.E.B. Clarke; Camera Douglas Slocombe; Editor Seth Holt; Music Georges Auric; Art Director William Kellner
  • Crew: (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1951. Running time: 81 MIN.
  • With: Alec Guinness Stanley Holloway Sidney James Alfie Bass Marjorie Fielding Ronald Adam
  • Music By: