The Lavender Hill Mob


1h 21m 1952
The Lavender Hill Mob

Brief Synopsis

An overlooked gold transporter with twenty years service plots to steal a million pounds of gold.

Film Details

Also Known As
Lavender Hill Mob
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Release Date
1952
Production Company
Ealing Studios
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures; Weintraub Entertainment Group

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

For 20 years the timid escort of gold bullion from the refineries to the vaults has been within sight of a fortune. Eventually, with three accomplices, he plans the perfect crime. Bullion worth over L1 million is made into souvenir models of the Eiffel Tower and shipped to France.

Photo Collections

The Lavender Hill Mob - Movie Posters
Here are a few original movie posters for the British comedy The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), starring Alec Guiness and Stanley Holloway.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Lavender Hill Mob
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Release Date
1952
Production Company
Ealing Studios
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures; Weintraub Entertainment Group

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Award Wins

Best Writing, Screenplay

1953

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1952
Alec Guinness

Articles

The Lavender Hill Mob


Alec Guinness had become an international star playing eight different characters in the Ealing Studios comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), so he decided on a change of pace for his next two films. Last Holiday (1950), although humorous at times, was predominantly a melancholy drama and, in The Mudlark (1950), his first American film, Guinness played Disraeli to Irene Dunne's Queen Victoria; it was not a success. Wisely, he decided to return to Ealing and comedy with The Lavender Hill Mob (1951).

Guinness described his timid character in The Lavender Hill Mob as a "fubsy" middle-aged bank clerk named Holland who masterminds a robbery of the gold bullion he's supposed to protect. "I see Holland as a man given to handwashing gestures," Guinness said (in Garry O'Connor's biography, Alec Guinness: Master of Disguise). "Anyone who usually does that is on the plump side so I think I ought to be slightly padded...we should somehow point the incongruity of a person like Holland seeing himself as the boss of a gang. It might be a good way to get the right effect if he were to have difficulties in pronouncing his R's."

Holland's "mob" includes an aspiring artist who creates souvenir paperweights, played by Stanley Holloway (Alfred Doolittle in the screen version of My Fair Lady, 1964), and a pair of bumbling robbers. Heist accomplished, they melt down the gold and Holloway fashions it into miniature Eiffel Tower souvenirs. The mob goes to Paris to collect their booty, only to find that several of the statuettes have been sold to some English schoolgirls on holiday. The film climaxes with a wild car chase, and an escape by the timid mastermind that's a brilliant sight gag. But it's not over quite yet....

The Lavender Hill Mob was the brainchild of one of Ealing's most original writers, T.E.B. (Thomas Ernest Bennett, known as "Tibby") Clarke. Clarke had written a newspaper humor column prior to World War II but he couldn't get in the army during the war...so he became a policeman, which gave him fresh fodder for his writing. After the war, on staff at Ealing, Clarke had been assigned by studio head Michael Balcon to create a script for a working-class crime drama set on the docks around the Pool of London, the area of the Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. The area includes "the City," London's financial district. While scouting the City for atmosphere, he noticed armored vans carrying bars of gold bullion, and a nondescript little man who was in charge of the transport. Clarke was intrigued with the possibilities for a comedy about that little man. Pool of London (1951) eventually became a well-regarded film, but without Clarke's involvement. He was taken off that film to develop his original idea into The Lavender Hill Mob.

The Eiffel Tower scheme was dreamed up by no less than a Bank of England official. While writing the script, Clarke had cheekily asked the official the best method of stealing a million pounds' worth of gold bullion. And the official suggested melting down the gold and fashioning it into souvenirs.

One of the pleasures of The Lavender Hill Mob is spotting the familiar faces of players who would become some of the most beloved character actors in British films. Sid James, who would become known for the Carry On films, plays one of the robbers (he's billed here as "Sidney James"). Peter Bull (Tom Jones, 1963), John Gregson (Genevieve, 1953), and James Fox (The Servant, 1963) are among those playing small roles. Pay close attention to the sequence at the beginning of the film set in South America; it features a girl selling cigarettes and she has one line. Yes, that's a very young Audrey Hepburn.

The Lavender Hill Mob was a worldwide hit, and became one of Ealing's most successful films. It earned Alec Guinness his first Academy Award nomination, and won Tibby Clarke an Oscar for his screenplay. Even today, when the drab postwar England portrayed in the film seems as quaint and far away as the Victorian era, the comedy of The Lavender Hill Mob still retains its charm.

Producer: Michael Balcon
Director: Charles Crichton
Screenplay: T.E.B. Clarke
Editor: Seth Holt
Cinematography: Douglas Slocombe
Music: Georges Auric
Cast: Alec Guinness (Henry Holland), Stanley Holloway (Pendlebury), Sidney James (Lackery), Alfie Bass (Shorty), Marjorie Fielding (Mrs. Chalk), Edie Martin (Miss Evesham).
BW-82m. Closed Captioning.

by Margarita Landazuri
The Lavender Hill Mob

The Lavender Hill Mob

Alec Guinness had become an international star playing eight different characters in the Ealing Studios comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), so he decided on a change of pace for his next two films. Last Holiday (1950), although humorous at times, was predominantly a melancholy drama and, in The Mudlark (1950), his first American film, Guinness played Disraeli to Irene Dunne's Queen Victoria; it was not a success. Wisely, he decided to return to Ealing and comedy with The Lavender Hill Mob (1951). Guinness described his timid character in The Lavender Hill Mob as a "fubsy" middle-aged bank clerk named Holland who masterminds a robbery of the gold bullion he's supposed to protect. "I see Holland as a man given to handwashing gestures," Guinness said (in Garry O'Connor's biography, Alec Guinness: Master of Disguise). "Anyone who usually does that is on the plump side so I think I ought to be slightly padded...we should somehow point the incongruity of a person like Holland seeing himself as the boss of a gang. It might be a good way to get the right effect if he were to have difficulties in pronouncing his R's." Holland's "mob" includes an aspiring artist who creates souvenir paperweights, played by Stanley Holloway (Alfred Doolittle in the screen version of My Fair Lady, 1964), and a pair of bumbling robbers. Heist accomplished, they melt down the gold and Holloway fashions it into miniature Eiffel Tower souvenirs. The mob goes to Paris to collect their booty, only to find that several of the statuettes have been sold to some English schoolgirls on holiday. The film climaxes with a wild car chase, and an escape by the timid mastermind that's a brilliant sight gag. But it's not over quite yet.... The Lavender Hill Mob was the brainchild of one of Ealing's most original writers, T.E.B. (Thomas Ernest Bennett, known as "Tibby") Clarke. Clarke had written a newspaper humor column prior to World War II but he couldn't get in the army during the war...so he became a policeman, which gave him fresh fodder for his writing. After the war, on staff at Ealing, Clarke had been assigned by studio head Michael Balcon to create a script for a working-class crime drama set on the docks around the Pool of London, the area of the Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. The area includes "the City," London's financial district. While scouting the City for atmosphere, he noticed armored vans carrying bars of gold bullion, and a nondescript little man who was in charge of the transport. Clarke was intrigued with the possibilities for a comedy about that little man. Pool of London (1951) eventually became a well-regarded film, but without Clarke's involvement. He was taken off that film to develop his original idea into The Lavender Hill Mob. The Eiffel Tower scheme was dreamed up by no less than a Bank of England official. While writing the script, Clarke had cheekily asked the official the best method of stealing a million pounds' worth of gold bullion. And the official suggested melting down the gold and fashioning it into souvenirs. One of the pleasures of The Lavender Hill Mob is spotting the familiar faces of players who would become some of the most beloved character actors in British films. Sid James, who would become known for the Carry On films, plays one of the robbers (he's billed here as "Sidney James"). Peter Bull (Tom Jones, 1963), John Gregson (Genevieve, 1953), and James Fox (The Servant, 1963) are among those playing small roles. Pay close attention to the sequence at the beginning of the film set in South America; it features a girl selling cigarettes and she has one line. Yes, that's a very young Audrey Hepburn. The Lavender Hill Mob was a worldwide hit, and became one of Ealing's most successful films. It earned Alec Guinness his first Academy Award nomination, and won Tibby Clarke an Oscar for his screenplay. Even today, when the drab postwar England portrayed in the film seems as quaint and far away as the Victorian era, the comedy of The Lavender Hill Mob still retains its charm. Producer: Michael Balcon Director: Charles Crichton Screenplay: T.E.B. Clarke Editor: Seth Holt Cinematography: Douglas Slocombe Music: Georges Auric Cast: Alec Guinness (Henry Holland), Stanley Holloway (Pendlebury), Sidney James (Lackery), Alfie Bass (Shorty), Marjorie Fielding (Mrs. Chalk), Edie Martin (Miss Evesham). BW-82m. Closed Captioning. by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

Trivia

Arriving in Paris, Pendlebury recites the words, "Gay, sprightly land of mirth and social ease"; Holland later repeats the phrase in reference to Rio de Janeiro. This line is a subtle reference to the movie's plot, because those words come originally from the 1765 poem "The Traveller" by Oliver *Goldsmith*.

Audrey Hepburn was considered for a larger role in this film, but stage work made her unavailable. Alec Guinness was impressed with the young actress and arranged for her to appear in a bit part. This is considered to be Hepburn's first appearance in a major film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1952

Released in United States October 1990

Shown at Valladolid Film Festival, Spain October 19-28, 1990.

Released in United States 1952

Released in United States October 1990 (Shown at Valladolid Film Festival, Spain October 19-28, 1990.)