It’s been a pretty depressing few days, what with Somalia, Norway and even Amy Winehouse. Time, I think, for some light relief. Happily, they’ve just re-released on DVD, ‘The Lavender Hill Mob,’ (1951), one of the best of the Ealing comedies.
Alec Guinness (already a “serious” actor) teams up with with the old-time music hall comic Stanley Holloway to make a marvellous pair of amateur criminal master-minds, who recruit the incompetent small-time crooks Sid James and Alfie Bass for their carefully-planned bullion robbery. Ray Galton and Alan Simpson saw this film when they were looking for a side-kick for Tony Hancock, whose radio show they were writing. They knew immediately that Sid James was their man, but they didn’t know who he was. They went back to the cinema and watched the film all over again, just so that they could note down James’s name from the credits. Those were the days.