Wednesday, May 15, 2024

SIFF 2024: 'The Lavender Hill Mob' Movie Review

alec guinness in lavender hill mob
In 1951’s The Lavender Hill Mob, Alec Guinness plays Holland, a milquetoast bank clerk. He routinely supervises the delivery of hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of gold bullion. Honest to a fault, viewed by his coworkers as a goody two shoes, he’s the kind of bloke who reads to his elderly landlady at night. He would never. Right? When means, inspiration, and opportunity come together, however, Holland breaks bad and, with a ragtag crew of mismatched outlaws, heists his latest load.


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Directed by Charles Crichton (A Fish Called Wanda), Lavender Hill hits all the caper highlights. Holland assembles his team, they hash out the scheme, there’s a ticking clock, the plan looks like it may go off without a hitch, it does not, they teeter on disaster, only to reel it back. And so on. It’s an escalating comedy of errors and improvisation, all often wrapped in the aesthetic trappings of film noir, though much lighter in tone. Though decades apart, there’s certainly shared DNA with Wanda


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The film includes all the fun bits of heists and capers, along with unique flourishes, like a British Bobby making piggy sounds as “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” plays over a police radio, or one awesome moment where Holland and his sidekick Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway) sprint down the endless spiral staircase of the Eiffel Tower chasing a class of vacationing school children. A bit slight, at 81 minutes The Lavender Hill Mob is still an enjoyable, rollicking crime comedy rep programmer. 


Find all our 2024 Seattle International Film Festival coverage here.

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