Charles Crichton’s Classic Caper Comedy THE LAVENDER HILL MOB New 4K Restoration

THE-LAVENDER-HILL-MOBCharles Crichton’s THE LAVENDER HILL MOB (1951), a classic heist comedy starring Alec Guinness, will run in a new 4K restoration at Film Forum from Friday, May 10 through Thursday, May 16.

“It’s a good job we’re both honest men,” remarks seedy Cockney knickknack manufacturer and hustler Stanley Holloway (13 years later, My Fair Lady’s Alfred Doolittle) as he gets the gist of fastidious bank clerk Guinness’ scheme: to smuggle Bank of England gold bullion out of the country by melting them down into seemingly tacky Eiffel Tower souvenirs.

One of the highlights of the golden years of British comedies from Britain’s famed Ealing Studios, THE LAVENDER HILL MOB was an international smash hit that won screenwriter T.E.B. Clarke an Oscar for Best Writing and a Best Actor nomination for Guinness, as well as a BAFTA Award for Best British Film. Its dénouement atop the real (filmed on location) Eiffel Tower features the most dizzying comedy chase ever.

Produced by the legendary Michael Balcon, the man who launched Alfred Hitchcock’s directing career in the 20s and 30s (and grandfather of actor Daniel Day-Lewis), THE LAVENDER HILL MOB is notable for both its on-camera and behind-the-camera personnel: Guinness was already an internationally renowned actor by the early 1950s, but his greatest fame would come 26 later playing Obi-Wan Kenobi In the original Star Wars (playing as a Film Forum Jr. matinee on Sunday, May 12), while 30 years later, cinematographer Douglas Slocombe would shoot Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (playing as a Film Forum Jr. matinee on Sunday, May 26). The film’s composer, Georges Auric, also created the music for such iconic French classics as Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, Jules Dassin’s Rififi, and Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear.

Director Charles Crichton would make a big comeback 37 years later, at age 77, with the hit comedy A Fish Called Wanda, starring John Cleese, Kevin Kline, and Jamie Lee Curtis.

The cast also includes British comedy stalwarts Sid James and Alfie Bass, along with brief appearances by 21-year-old newcomer Audrey Hepburn.