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Film Studies 101
Feature
Become A Heist Films Expert In Ten Easy Movies
Master a genre in just a handful of films

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Become A Heist Films Expert In Ten Easy Movies | The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Tagline: “The men who broke the bank - and lost the cargo!”

Ealing’s answer to Heat, Charles Crichton’s playful romp was a tongue-in-cheek riposte to the heft of the Hollywood noirs and Italian neo-realism of the time, injecting a dose of chaotic fun into a genre not always known for it. The titular mob is a non-more-English posse of mild-mannered men far more likely to throw a tea party than a stun grenade. Alec Guinness’s meek Bank of England clerk, Henry Holland, hiding behind round-rimmed glasses and underestimated by all around him, is the man who quietly hatches the perfect robbery. His eureka moment comes when new lodger Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway) reveals that his foundry turns out tourist trinkets – a handy means of magicking £1m of stolen gold out of the country. Inevitably, though, their golden Eiffel Towers get mixed up with the real souvenirs and all manner of mayhem ensures. The best laid plans and all that.

Iconic moment: Through a twist of fate and some seriously improbable plot turns, the gang end up having to re-steal their own bullion from right under the noses of the police.

What to quote: “By Jove, Holland, it's a good job we're both honest men.”

Pub trivia: Not only was this Audrey Hepburn’s first big screen appearance, but Robert Shaw’s too. He pops up in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him turn as a chemist.

Further reading… The Ladykillers (1955), The Pink Panther (1963), It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), How To Steal A Million (1966), The War Wagon (1967), The Heist (1971), A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

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