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Member's Reviews

The Lavender Hill Mob, a review by Jon

The Lavender Hill Mob
5 out of 5

A meek bank clerk who oversees the shipment of bullion joins with an eccentric neighbour to steal gold bars and smuggle them out of the country as miniature Eiffel Towers.

T.E.B. Clarke won a deserved Academy Award for this marvellous screenplay. Still clearly post-war Britain, there are undertones of social and political satire, but it doesn’t detract from a wonderfully funny heist movie. There was a big increase in crime following the war; indeed this was inspired by classic The Blue Lamp with a similar, albeit serious, tone. The police are presented as largely ineffectual (a late scene shows how forward thinking and scientific they are, but are quickly turned into a chaotic mob to the tune of Old MacDonald!), but not unkindly so, which is the enduring skill of Clarke’s films, that he had resolve enough to tear institutions to shreds, but always with a smile. I suppose it says something that the police appear far more professional than they do now!

Of course we no longer reside in “post-war” anything, but the film hasn’t really dated. It’s still an effective heist film with a breezy, hilarious nature that identifies with anyone heading for a mid-life crisis. The premise is infectious. What if you could come up with the perfect crime, exploiting your own daily routine, so you could retire with a fortune? That’s the meticulous plan Alec Guinness has been cooking up for 19 years as fastidious middle-class Henry Holland (or “Dutch” as he asks to be called later on), responsible for transporting gold bullion. He meets jovial Stanley Holloway who makes holiday ornaments and gives Holland the idea of how to shift the gold (disguise it as Eiffel Tower models and ship them to Paris). They quickly ensnare a couple of proper criminals (Sid James and Alfie Bass) and set the plan in motion.

It’s a well done plot, actually authorised by the Bank of England. Clarke asked them how such robbery could take place and they formed a committee to tell him! It bats along and fits such a lot into its short 78 minutes, it feels more substantial yet nothing feels rushed. It even has a framing device. Alec Guinness is telling the story from Rio, where he has been living the high life (a young Audrey Hepburn is there too, the lucky devil!).

Guinness was without a doubt one of the greatest actors of all time and his characterisation of Holland is perfect from note one, right down to mispronounced “r”’s and a wonderful cheeky glee that reveals itself in the briefest of moments. There are so many layers to what would be a very two-dimensional role these days. He is intelligent and passionate (his reading of a crime thriller to his landlady also reveals Clarke’s obvious love for pulp fiction, as he showed in Hue and Cry), yet is happy to be a quiet, subservient, pedantic laughing stock to his colleagues. All part of the plan, yet the tics are so organic, he really is all of those things. Honestly, you could watch this performance time and again. Stanley Holloway is at his best too and the scene where Holland drips the idea into Pendlebury’s mind is superb.

Dependable Charles Crichton directs and as with Hue and Cry, some of the photography is wonderful and he finds all sorts of opportunities to stage some great sequences. The charge down the Eiffel Tower is as brilliant as it is indulgent, as is the farcical car chase.

Great fun and still effective. One of Ealing’s most enduring comedies.

(From A Feeling for Ealing... on March 10th, 2010)

Member's Reviews

A Very Long Engagement, a review by GSyren

A Very Long Engagement (7-321900-389723)
France 2004 | Released 2005-06-13 on DVD
123 minutes | Aspect ratio Anamorphic 2.40:1 | Audio: French Dolby Digital EX 5.1 (Matrixed 6.1), German Dolby Digital EX 5.1 (Matrixed 6.1), Commentary Dolby Digital 2-Channel Stereo
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jean-Pierre Becker, Dominique Bettenfeld, Clovis Cornillac

My thoughts about A Very Long Engagement
Un long dimanche de film... Well, I don't know if that's proper French, but I just wanted to say that the film was a little too long for my taste. I would have preferred a few less subplots. That would have made it easier  for me to keep my interest up throughout the movie. There certainly are movies over 2 hours that never feel too long for me, but this didn't quite make the grade.

That said, I thought the cinematography was fantastic. I like Audrey Tautou quiet a lot. It was quite a bit gorier than I had expected, given that it was on Yves' grandchildren's top lists. The story was fine, but I'm not really fond of that many flashbacks. I prefer a somewhat more linear storytelling.

Still, not a bad movie at all. Well worth the time put in to watch it, as Pete likes to say.  ;)
I rate this title: 4/5

(From Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar on October 27th, 2016)

Member's TV Reviews

Tom's TV Pilots marathon, a review by Tom

     Stromberg: Staffel 1 (2004/Germany)
IMDb | Wikipedia

Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Germany)
Length:194 min.
Video:Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78
Audio:German: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Commentary: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

1.01 Der Parkplatz (2004-10-11)
Writer: Ralf Husmann (Writer)
Director: Arne Feldhusen

(From Tom's TV Pilots marathon on July 26th, 2012)