Monday, December 13, 2010

#129. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

DVD Synopsis: Sir Alec Guinness received his first Oscar nomination as Best Actor for his delightful performance as Henry Holland, a meek clerk who devises an ingenious plan to rob a fortune in gold bullion from his own bank. But when Henry and his odd accomplice (Stanley Holloway of My Fair Lady fame) melt the gold into souvenir Eiffel Towers to smuggle into France, their perfect crime becomes a disastrous caper of Cockney crooks, customs chaos and an ill-timed group of British schoolgirls, all leading to some of the most hilarious and unexpected surprises in criminal history.

In The Lavender Hill Mob, we're introduced to two honest, hard-working men: Henry Holland (Alec Guinness), a shy, unassuming bank transfer agent, and Alfred Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway), a manufacturer of souvenirs. Both men have spent their lives playing by the rules, that is until the day they stole the bullion deposit from Henry's bank, melted it down, and, with the help of Pendlebury’s Eiffel Tower molds, transformed it into dozens of souvenir paperweights. All at once, their lives became a lot more exciting...not to mention a hell of a lot more frightening! 

In one of the movie’s best scenes, Holland and Pendlebury make a trip across the channel to ensure that the golden paperweights (which were painted black to match the appearance of a standard souvenir tower) have arrived safely at their destination; a gift shop located at the top of the Eiffel Tower, where they'll remain hidden until the smoke clears back in England. Unfortunately, upon their arrival, the two discover that something very bad has just happened; it seems the gift shop failed to follow instructions, and sold six of their "special" Eiffel Towers to a group of British schoolchildren, who have piled into the elevator and are heading for ground level. In an effort to salvage their grand conspiracy, both men must now reach the ground before that elevator, which means they have to descend the tower’s winding staircase, and quickly. As Holland and Pendlebury are running full-barrel down these stairs, they suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, begin to laugh. Despite the fact that their carefully laid plan was falling apart, these two were having the time of their lives, and couldn’t help but laugh about it all. Regardless of what the future holds for them, Holland and Pendlebury got their shot at building a better life. 

And what's more, they actually took it!

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