The Lavender Hill Mob (60th Anniversary Edition) – Digitally Restored [1951]

The Lavender Hill Mob (60th Anniversary Edition) - Digitally Restored [DVD] [1951]

Release Date: August 1, 2011
Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
Actors: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sid James, Alfie Bass, Marjorie Fielding
Directors: Charles Crichton
Runtime: 81 minutes
DVD-Rip

Four of the British film industry's best-loved comedies in one box set makes The Ealing Comedy Collection absolutely essential for anyone who has any passion at all for movies. The set contains Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Man in the White Suit (1951) and The Ladykillers (1955).

Ealing's greatest comedies captured the essence of post-war Britain, both in their evocation of a land once blighted by war but now rising doggedly and optimistically again from the ashes, and in their mordant yet graceful humour. They portray a country with an antiquated class system whose crumbling conventions are being undermined by a new spirit of individual opportunism. In the delightfully wicked Kind Hearts and Coronets, a serial killer politely murders his way into the peerage; in The Lavender Hill Mob a put-upon bank clerk schemes to rob his employers; The Man in the White Suit is a harshly satirical depiction of idealism crushed by the status quo; while The Ladykillers mocks both the criminals and the authorities with its unlikely octogenarian heroine Mrs "lop-sided" Wilberforce.

Many factors contribute to the success of these films--including fine music scores from composers such as Benjamin Frankel (Man in the White Suit) and Tristram Cary (The Ladykillers); positively symphonic sound effects (White Suit); marvellously evocative locations (the environs of King's Cross in Ladykillers, for example); and writing that always displays Ealing's unique perspective on British social mores ("All the exuberance of Chaucer without, happily, any of the concomitant crudities of his period")--yet arguably their greatest asset is Alec Guinness, whose multifaceted performances are the keystone upon which Ealing built its biting, often macabre, yet always elegant comedy.

On the DVD: The Ealing Comedy Collection presents the four discs in a fold-out package with postcards of the original poster artwork for each. Aside from theatrical trailers on each disc there are no extra features, which is a pity given the importance of these films. The Ladykillers is in muted Technicolor and presented in 1.66:1 ratio, the three earlier films are all black and white 1.33:1. Sound is perfectly adequate mono throughout. --Mark Walker

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