Holland, a shy retiring man, dreams of being rich and living the good life. Faithfully, for 20 years, he has worked as a bank transfer agent for the delivery of gold bullion. One day he befriends Pendlebury, a maker of souvenirs. Holland remarks that, with Pendlebury's smelting equipment, one could forge the gold into harmless-looking toy Eiffel Towers and smuggle the gold from England into France. Soon after, the two plant a story to gain the services of professional criminals Lackery and Shorty. Together, the four plot their crime, leading to unexpected twists and turns. Written by
Rick Gregory <email@example.com>
Ealing Studios, planning a bank-robbery film, asked the Bank of England to devise a way in which a million pounds could be stolen from the bank. A special committee was created to come up with an idea, and their plan is the one used in the film. See more »
When Shorty is shown practicing his drawing, the picture changes between the distant shot and the close shot. See more »
Paris, eh? You're stepping out, Holland. Wonderful, isn't it, what a little extra money will do?
Yes, it's going to make a big difference to me.
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What hits you first about LHM is its smallness. It is a small film (78 min) made with a small budget about some small people. But their smallness doesn't stop them from dreaming the impossibly big - rob the Bank of England! In fact it is this very smallness & unobtrusiveness that gives Alec Guinness & Stanley Holloway - bank clerk & artist respectively - their chance.
The film, told in an intelligent flashback, is divided into 3 segments. First is the plotting. A mild mannered bank clerk meets a minor artist. Both want to get out of their seedy Lavender Hill boarding house & nondescript existance. Both look past their glory days. Yet together they have the opportunity to pull off a brilliant crime.
Then comes the heist. A surprisingly simple operation perfectly (almost!) executed. Finally the escape - getting the gold outside the country into the 'continental blackmarket'. Alas, the movie being made in the good old days when crime didn't pay, our heroes must suffer. But by then they have given us enough joy & adventure for us to forgive their one tragic slip.
This is definitely one of the best comedies Ealing studios made in the '50s (my other favourite is the vastly underrated 'Hue & Cry' where Alistair Sim gives a typical quirky performance & the tipsy 'Whiskey Galore'). Holloway & Guinness acted in many of them. They usually played very stiff upper British lip polite, eccentric, but excitable characters. In this movie they decide they are familiar enough to ask each other their first names only after they have robbed a bank together! When Holloway realises they can pull it off, his face is hidden in the shadows as he slowly tells Guinness, 'Thank God Holland, we are both honest men' - a line which I think summarises the entire movie.
The reason this movie is so amusing even today is that it is very tightly scripted (Tibby Clark won an Oscar for his effort) & brilliantly realised by the ensemble cast. As far as caper films go this has half the gadgetry of 'Entrapment' but twice the fun.
This is the 3rd time I am seeing this movie & I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. Please see this one!
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