The Lavender Hill Mob

United Kingdom | 1951 | 78 min. | Charles Crichton

Alec Guinness leads this riotous 1951 Ealing Studios comedy from director Charles Crichton (A Fish Called Wanda) as a London bank clerk who conspires to steal a cache of gold bullion…if only he could figure out a way to get it out of the country.

As Noir City attendees learned this past festival, when The Asphalt Jungle hit the silver screen in 1950, it heralded an explosion of heist flicks that followed over the course of the decade. Just one year later, Britain’s Ealing Studios produced The Lavender Hill Mob, its own brilliantly comedic take on the caper genre. Henry Holland (Alec Guinness) works as a modest Bank of England employee, personally supervising the gold bullion consignments. Despite his unassuming nature, Holland has devised a scheme for stealing the gold with only one flaw: how to sell the precious metal afterwards? Enter Alfred Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway), the new resident at Holland’s boarding house who also happens to own an import/export company with an attached foundry. Together, the pair formulate the perfect scheme: steal the gold, melt it down into novelty Eiffel Tower paperweights, and export them all to France. But as every schoolgirl knows, the perfect crime doesn’t exist. The Lavender Hill Mob would go on to win the Academy Award® for Best Story and Screenplay, and remains one of the funniest, most charming British films of all time. Watch closely during the opening scene in Rio for a cameo by a 22-year-old Audrey Hepburn.

Dan Doody

  • Director: Charles Crichton
  • Principal Cast: Alec Guiness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James, Alfie Bass, Marjorie Fielding
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Year: 1951
  • Running Time: 78 min.
  • Producer: Michael Balcon
  • Screenplay: T.E.B. Clarke
  • Cinematographers: Douglas Slocombe
  • Editors: Seth Holt
  • Music: Georges Auric
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Academy Awards® 1953 (Best Writing, Story and Screenplay), BAFTA Awards 1952 (Best British Film), Venice Film Festival 1951 (Best Screenplay)
  • Filmography: A Fish Called Wanda (1988), The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), The Stranger in Between (1952), Against the Wind (1948), Hue and Cry (1947), Dead of Night (1945)
  • Language: English
  • US Distributor: Rialto Pictures