For Reel


The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
December 10, 2014, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Charles Crichton
4.5 Stars
The Lavender Hill MobAlec Guinness solidified his international stardom with his performance in this amusing heist comedy from director Charles Crichton. He plays a shy, unassuming bank clerk–when his character is called into question, it is reported that he’s not a fellow with much ambition and therefore is not one to worry about. Of course, the mousy clerk takes it upon himself to give himself a bonus by stealing the gold bullion he is tasked with accompanying and smuggling it to Paris. The heist occurs about halfway through the picture and much of the excitement comes in the fallout from it. There’s a tremendous sequence in which Guinness and his partner (Stanley Holloway) visit the Eiffel Tower and pursue a field trip of young girls who have mistakenly got their hands on the smuggled gold. Crichton follows the thieves running down the circular stairway of the tower in a dizzying chaos, creating the most viscerally disorienting aesthetic achievement this side of Vertigo. Douglas Slocombe’s cinematography is also masterful elsewhere, with dynamic high-contrast lighting and a camera that is just as interested in following telling gestures as it is in faces.