Friday, April 22, 2011

The Lavender Hill Mob

Charles Crichton, 1951, bw (8.5*)
This is one of a line of wonderful Ealing Studios British comedies in classic b&w, the best of which starred Alec Guinness, such as the futuristic spoof of capitalism, The Man in the White Suit, in which a scientist invents an indestructible cloth; and The Ladykillers, remade with Tom Hanks, in which a scholarly gang of bank robbers rents a room in a boarding house from which to tunnel into a bank. Also, my favorite, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), a hilarious spoof of tontines in which one member becomes a serial killer in order to hasten his collecting the booty.

In The Lavender Hill Mob, Guinness heads a small group of criminals who plot to steal a truckload of gold buillion (he works on the shipments, so he's the inside man), then smuggle it in a very unique way, which of course, cannot be foolproof, this being a crime comedy.
The cast is one of those typically talented veteran British casts, headed by Stanley Holloway, a later Oscar®-winner for My Fair Lady; Guinness would later win for actor in The Bridge On the River Kwai. The only time they still make comedies like these is when they remake one of these. These each had something unique for their time and became archetypal spoof of whatever they tackled. The general theme with most of these is 'greedy people, even if well off, will even resort to murder to gain even more wealth, and they aren't always the sharpest tacks in the toolbox either'.

If you like the crime spoof comedies, be sure to check out the late Italian master Mario Monicelli's hilarious take on heist films Big Deal on Madonna St (1959) Italy, bw with a gang that severely lacked a mastermind, or really any type of mind. Monicelli died last year at 95, after working on over 100 films as either director or writer.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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