|The Lavender Hill Mob|
|Directed by||Charles Crichton|
|Written by||T. E. B. Clarke|
|Produced by||Michael Balcon|
|Starring|| Alec Guinness |
|Edited by||Seth Holt|
|Music by||Georges Auric|
|Distributed by||General Film Distributors|
The Lavender Hill Mob is a 1951 comedy film from Ealing Studios, written by T. E. B. Clarke, directed by Charles Crichton, starring Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway and featuring Sid James and Alfie Bass. The title refers to Lavender Hill, a street in Battersea, a district in London SW11, near to Clapham Junction railway station.
The British Film Institute ranked The Lavender Hill Mob the 17th greatest British film of all time. The original film was digitally restored and re-released to UK cinemas on 29 July 2011 to celebrate its 60th anniversary.It is one of fifteen films listed in the category "Art" on the Vatican film list.
Henry Holland lives the life of luxury in Rio de Janeiro, and spends an evening dining out with a British visitor. During their meal, he narrates a story concerning how he changed his life by instigating an intricate gold bullion robbery. One year ago, Holland served as an unambitious London bank clerk, who for twenty years was in charge of gold bullion deliveries. Although dedicated to his job due to his reputation for fussing over details, he had begun to devise a scheme to steal a consignment of gold bullion. However, his plan had a flaw - selling it on the black market in Britain was too risky, and he was at a loss as to how to smuggle it abroad. One evening at his boarding house in Lavender Hill, he meets with artist Alfred Pendlebury, who has taken up lodgings in the building. A conversation with him leads him to discover that Pendlebury owns a foundry that makes presents and souvenirs that are sold in holiday destinations, one of which is Paris.
Realizing that Pendlebury is the key to his plan's success, Holland explains his scheme to the artist who agrees to help. When the clerk discovers he is due to be transferred to another bank department, the pair quickly move their plan into action, recruiting the aid of petty thieves, Lackery Wood and Shorty Fisher. On the day of the robbery, Wood and Fisher hijack the bullion van and switch the gold to one of Pendlebury's works van. Holland then assumes the role of an unfortunate victim who is hailed as a hero for raising the alarm, after nearly drowning by accident. As his associates melt down the gold bullion and recast it as Eiffel Tower paperweights to be exported abroad, Holland gives false statements and misleading clues to the police, led by Inspector Farrow. The group soon toast to their success, despite Wood and Fisher being unable to travel to Paris to collect their share in person, entrusting the other two to provide it.
The day after their last consignment of stolen gold is sent to Paris, Holland and Pendlebury head to France to retrieve them from a souvenir kiosk atop the Eiffel Tower supplied by Pendlebury's firm. However, the pair are horrified when they find one of the boxes containing the golden paperweights has been opened by mistake due to a language mix-up. Discovering six have been sold to a group of English schoolgirls, the pair make a wild chase to pursue after them back to Britain. Both manage to track down the schoolgirls, but only manage to get back five of the paperweights. The girl holding the sixth one refuses, intending to deliver it to a policeman she is friends with. Holland and Pendlebury pursue after the girl, and watch in horror as it is brought to an exhibition of police history and methods at Hendon Police College. Holland's worst fears come true when Farrow, having begun to realize the truth, spots the paperweight and orders a chemical test on it.
Left with no choice, Holland snatches it, and he and Pendlebury make their escape in a stolen police car. A confusing pursuit begins across London, as Holland uses the car's radio to feed false, misleading information to the officers pursuing the pair. However, both find themselves forced to offer a passing police officer a lift on the car's footplate, causing them to be eventually discovered. As Pendlebury becomes trapped, Holland escapes with the six golden paperweights, which leave him with a tidy sum to enjoy a new life. After finishing his tale to his visitor back in the present day, Holland admits that the money is now all gone. As the pair prepare to leave, the visitor is revealed as a police officer, and that Holland has been finally arrested for his crime as the story concludes.
Screenwriter Clarke is said to have come up with the idea of a clerk robbing his own bank while doing research for the film Pool of London (1951), a crime thriller surrounding a jewel theft. He consulted the Bank of England on the project and it set up a special committee to advise on how best the robbery could take place.
Extensive location filming was made in both London and Paris.The scenes show a London still marked by bomb sites from the Second World War.
The scene where Holland and Pendlebury run down the Eiffel Tower's spiral staircase and become increasingly dizzy and erratic, as does the camera work, presages James Stewart's condition in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo , made seven years later.A film montage of sensational newspaper headlines marks the crime as taking place in August 1950, whilst posters for the Hendon exhibition state that it marks the centenary of the death of Sir Robert Peel, which occurred on 2 July 1850. In the car chase scene at the end of the film, an officer uses a police box to report seeing a police car being driven by a man in a top hat. In fact, the driver is a modern-day police officer from the exhibition wearing the uniform of the police as originally set up in 1829 by Peel, known as "Bobbies" or "Peelers" after him.
The Lavender Hill Mob had its charity world premiere at the Marble Arch Odeon cinema in London on 28 June 1951.The film was popular at the British box office. It had rentals of $580,000 at the U.S. box office.
The film won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay. Guinness was nominated for the award of Best Actor in a Leading Role. The film also won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film.
A stage adaptation of the film written by Phil Porter and directed by Jeremy Sams opened in October 2022 at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham before touring the UK, starring Miles Jupp as Henry Holland and Justin Edwards as Alfred Pendlebury.
Sidney James was a British actor and comedian whose career encompassed radio, television, stage and screen. He was best known for numerous roles in the Carry On film series.
Thomas Ernest Bennett "Tibby" Clarke, OBE was a film screenwriter who wrote several of the Ealing Studios comedies.
The Flying Squad is a branch of the Serious and Organised Crime Command within London's Metropolitan Police Service. It is also known as the Robbery Squad, Specialist Crime Directorate 7, SC&O7 and SO7. It is nicknamed The Sweeney, an abbreviation of the Cockney rhyming slang "Sweeney Todd".
The Ealing comedies is an informal name for a series of comedy films produced by the London-based Ealing Studios during a ten-year period from 1947 to 1957. Often considered to reflect Britain's post-war spirit, the most celebrated films in the sequence include Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), Whisky Galore! (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Man in the White Suit (1951) and The Ladykillers (1955). Hue and Cry (1947) is generally considered to be the earliest of the cycle, and Barnacle Bill (1957) the last, although some sources list Davy (1958) as the final Ealing comedy.
The Brink's-Mat robbery occurred at the Heathrow International Trading Estate, London, United Kingdom, on 26 November 1983. £26 million worth of gold bullion, diamonds, and cash was stolen from a warehouse. The bullion was the property of Johnson Matthey Bankers Ltd, which collapsed the following year after making large loans to fraudsters and insolvent firms. Two men were convicted, and the majority of the gold has never been recovered. Insurers Lloyd's of London paid out for the losses, and several shooting deaths have been linked to the case.
The Great Gold Robbery took place on the night of 15 May 1855, when a routine shipment of three boxes of gold bullion and coins was stolen from the guard's van of the service between London Bridge station and Folkestone while it was being shipped to Paris. The robbers comprised four men, two of whom—William Tester and James Burgess—were employees of South Eastern Railway (SER), the company that ran the rail service. They were joined by the two planners of the crime, Edward Agar, a professional career criminal, and William Pierce, a former employee of SER who had been dismissed for being a gambler.
The Wrong Arm of the Law is a 1963 British comedy film directed by Cliff Owen and starring Peter Sellers, Bernard Cribbins, Lionel Jeffries, John Le Mesurier and Bill Kerr. It was partly written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson and made by Romulus Films.
Gwilym Meredith Edwards was a Welsh character actor and writer.
The A3036 is an A road in London, England, running from Waterloo to Wandsworth.
The Jokers is a 1967 British comedy film written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, and directed by Michael Winner. The film stars Michael Crawford and Oliver Reed as brothers who hatch a plot to steal the Crown Jewels.
Derek Creighton "Bertie" Smalls was considered by many as Britain's first supergrass. Although there have been informers throughout history – the Kray twins were partly convicted two years before Smalls on evidence given by Leslie Payne – the Smalls case was significant for three reasons: the first informer to give the police volume names of his associates and provide the evidence that would send dozens of them to prison to serve long sentences; the first criminal informer to strike a written deal with the Director of Public Prosecutions; the only criminal informer to serve no time for his crime in return for providing Queen's evidence.
John McIntosh Beattie, known professionally as John Warwick, was an Australian actor, and television dramatist.
Arthur Hambling was a British actor, on stage from 1912, and best known for appearances in the films Henry V (1944) and The Lavender Hill Mob (1951). In 1939 he appeared in the West End in N.C. Hunter's comedy Grouse in June.
Calling Bulldog Drummond is a 1951 British crime film directed by Victor Saville and featuring Walter Pidgeon, Margaret Leighton, Robert Beatty, David Tomlinson and Bernard Lee. It featured the character Bulldog Drummond created by the novelist Herman Cyril McNeile, which had seen a number of screen adaptations. A novel tie-in was also released in 1951. It was made by the British subsidiary of MGM at Elstree Studios. The film's sets were designed by the art director Alfred Junge.
Sir Alec Guinness was an English actor. After an early career on the stage, Guinness was featured in several of the Ealing comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), in which he played nine different characters, The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), for which he received his first Academy Award nomination, and The Ladykillers (1955). He collaborated six times with director David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946), Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won both the Academy Award for Best Actor and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Prince Faisal in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), General Yevgraf Zhivago in Doctor Zhivago (1965), and Professor Godbole in A Passage to India (1984). In 1970, he played Jacob Marley's ghost in Ronald Neame's Scrooge. He also portrayed Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas's original Star Wars trilogy; for the original 1977 film, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 50th Academy Awards.
The Eastcastle Street robbery was the holdup of a Post Office van in London in May 1952 which, at the time, was Britain's largest postwar robbery. The robbers escaped with £287,000.
Frederick Piper was an English actor of stage and screen who appeared in over 80 films and many television productions in a career spanning over 40 years. Piper studied drama under Elsie Fogerty at the Central School of Speech and Drama, then based at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
The Sweeney is a 2012 British action drama film, inspired by the 1970s The Sweeney, the British television police drama of the same name, but set in contemporary London. Written and directed by Nick Love, from a story by Love and John Hodge, it is based on the characters created by Ian Kennedy Martin. It stars Ray Winstone as Jack Regan, Plan B as George Carter, and Damian Lewis as Frank Haskins, with Allen Leech and Hayley Atwell.
David Lewis Davies, was a Welsh stage and film actor. At 6' 4" he was often cast as a heavy, police officer or in a military or authoritarian role, such as Mr. Arrow, the first mate and enforcer outwitted by Long John Silver in Disney's 1950 Treasure Island. Davies appeared mainly in British film and television programmes, and was in demand for films set in Wales, such as The Three Weird Sisters (1948), The Last Days of Dolwyn (1949), Tiger Bay (1959) and Only Two Can Play (1962).
The Lavender Hill Mob is a play based on the 1951 Ealing comedy film with a screenplay by T. E. B. Clarke, adapted for the stage by Phil Porter.