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The Lavender Hill Mob, The (Ealing 1951, Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway)

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Classic Ealing comedy with Alec Guinness playing Henry Holland, a mild-mannered transporter of gold bullion who has been doing the job for the past 20 years but suddenly decides to steal a million pounds. He enlists the help of Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway), an old friend and paperweight manufacturer, and they team up with accomplices Alfie Bass and Sid James to hijack the bank’s armoured car.

Once in their hands, the gold bars are melted down and formed into the likeness of small, souvenir Eiffel towers. The booty is smuggled out to Paris, where it is purchased by a group of English schoolgirls. As a result of their pleading with the girls, the gang retrieve all but one of the towers. But the last one is in the hands of a very determined girl who refuses to part with it. She goes to an exhibition of police crime prevention methods and shows the souvenir to the police. The gang snatch it back and a wild chase ensues.

One of Ealing’s most successful pictures, the film came about when writer Clarke was researching another film, Pool of London, where it was suggested one of the characters be a mild-mannered crook. The more he thought about it, the more it became a stand-alone plot with humourous overtones and he took it to producer Michael Balcon. Balcon was less than pleased that work on Pool of London wasn’t progressing but once he’d read the proposal, he relented and the Ealing team swung into action to create an enduring classic starring two of Ealing’s then most popular stars.

production details
UK | Ealing | 78 minutes | 1951

Director: Charles Crichton
Writer: T.E.B. Clarke

cast
Jacques B. Brunius as Customs Official
Alfie Bass as Shorty
Eugene Deckers as Customs Official
Audrey Hepburn as Chiquita
Sid James as Lackery
Marie Burke as Señora Gallardo
Cyril Chamberlain as Commander
John Gregson as Farrow
Robert Shaw as Chemist at Police Exhibition
John Salew as Parkin
Alec Guinness as Henry ‘Dutch’ Holland
Sydney Tafler as Clayton
Ronald Adam as Turner
Clive Morton as Station Sergeant
Stanley Holloway as Albert Pendlebury
Moultrie Kelsall as Detective Superintendant
Meredith Edwards as P. C. Williams
Marjorie Fielding as Mrs. Chalk
Patrick Barr as Divisional Detective Inspector
Gibb McLaughlin as Godwin
Edie Martin as Miss Evesham
Arthur Hambling as Wallis
William Fox as Gregory
Michael Trubshawe as British Ambassador
Ann Heffernan as Kiosk Girl
Paul Demel as Customs Official
Andreas Malandrinos as Customs Official
Tony Quinn as Deputy Commander
Christopher Hewett as Inspector Talbot
David Davies as City Policeman

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