The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
17Jul/100

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny INDIFFERENTBack in the 1950's, Alec Guinness was the king of British comedy. Working at the prestigious Ealing Studios, he made a string of upper crust comedies such as The Man in the White Suit, The Ladykillers, Kind Hearts and Coronets, and this film, The Lavender Hill Mob.

But maybe we should step back from proclaiming The Lavender Hill Mob a classic along the lines of those other films quite yet. We can, however, watch Audrey Hepburn in one of her more notable screen debuts, even if it lasts for a scant minute.

Hepburn is only in this film for a scene, less than a minute. In fact, you can watch her entire role in this short clip. She would later recall the part fondly, and say that she was thrilled that she could say that she worked with Guinness. The film's high profile in both Britain and America, where it won both BAFTAs and an Oscar for screenwriting, certainly helped Hepburn get noticed.

But all the praise that the movie received seems baffling to me. Alec Guinness is a quiet accountant who monitors the daily shipments of Gold bouillon between the bank and the government. He rides in the back of the truck with two armed guards and keeps careful track of everything that's going on. He has played a patsy for years, waiting for the right opportunity to pounce and steal the gold.

It comes along in the form of Mr. Pendlehurst, a manufacturer of cheap travel trinkets that line tourist destinations. They conspire with a pair of burglars to hijack the gold carrying truck and export the bouillon melted into statues of the Eiffel Tower.

This goes awry, as it must, with a pair of the statues escaping into the hands of two small English girls who collect them as souvenirs. That they won't sell them back is one thing, but that one gives her paperweight as a gift to a police inspector makes things even worse for our criminal duo.

The Lavender Hill Mob can best be called a comedy with bemusement but no laughs. Things occur with such non-eventfulness that it often feels like the screenwriters were terribly worried that they would upset the audience if they left the theater feeling any different from when they came in.

I'm only at 400 words for this review, but it's about the best I can manage for such a slog. Save yourself the time in watching this affable forgettable dud.

Audrey Hepburn Sundays

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

This film is currently available on DVD.

Directed by Charles Crichton
Starring Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway

To see the rest of the reviews in my Audrey Hepburn Project,
click here.

Posted by Danny

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