Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951, UK)

In Charles Crichton's Ealing Studios' caper comedy about the pursuit of English schoolgirls to retrieve six golden miniature Eiffel Towers:

  • the opening sequence of prim and timid bank clerk Henry Holland (Alec Guinness) dining in a fancy restaurant in Rio de Janiero next to a pipe-smoking British gentleman, when he met Chiquita (Audrey Hepburn in her screen debut, with a very short walk-on role) and gave her money for a birthday present
Henry Holland Dining in Rio Restaurant
  • Holland's start of a flashback - expressing pleasure at having had a superb year, and thinking back to when he worked in a London bank and had 20 years of service in the transport of gold bullion: ("One superb year. Just when I was beginning to believe I'd never achieve it. For 20 years, I've dreamed of a life like this. For 19 of those years, fate denied me the one contact essential to the success of all my plans. Still, I never quite lost sight of the goal, inaccessible as it often seemed to me when I was merely a, merely a non-entity. Among all those thousands who flock every morning into the city. Most men who long to be rich know inwardly that they will never achieve their ambition. But I was in the unique position of having a fortune literally within my grasp. For it was my job to supervise the deliveries of bullion from the gold refinery to the bank")
  • his continuing flashback, as he mused in voice-over about his small paycheck: ("Many a rascal would have risked his all for half a million, not realizing that gold, in the form of bullion, is useless without a method of smuggling it abroad. To find that method was my last remaining problem...Meanwhile, I gave the bank their gold....I was a potential millionaire, yet I had to be satisfied with eight pounds, fifteen shillings, less deductions. A weekly reminder that the years were passing, and my problem still unsolved. Until my ship came home, I was obliged to live at the Balmoral private hotel in Lavender Hill")
  • and then, his solution to commit the "perfect" crime - he met up with his potential cohort-in-crime Alfred Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway), an artist in his Balmoral-Lavender Hill boarding house; Alfred had a foundry that could convert the gold into souvenir Eiffel Tower paperweights to be exported (smuggled) out of the country without detection
  • their recruitment of two other petty crooks to aid in the robbery: Lackery Wood (Sidney James) and Shorty Fisher (Alfie Bass)
  • the scene of Holland and Pendlebury realizing that a souvenir shopkeeper at a Parisian kiosk (on the upper level of the Eiffel Tower) had sold six of the gold-converted Eiffel Tower statues from a crate specially-marked R that she wasn't supposed to open; Holland rushed to the elevator to watch as a group of British schoolgirls, who had accidentally bought six of the statues, descended in the Tower elevator, and in a riotous sequence, they chased after them down a dizzying, winding circular staircase
  • the zany wild goose chase sequences from Paris to London after the British schoolgirls - and after the bullion robbers (including a crazy and confused police pursuit in squad cars as Holland broadcast false directional reports from a stolen police car)
  • the concluding surprise revelation: Holland had escaped to Rio de Janeiro: ("I came straight on to Rio de Janeiro - 'Gay spritely land of mirth and social ease'") with the six Eiffel Tower statues worth 25,000 pounds: ("Enough to keep me for one year in the style to which I was, ah, unaccustomed"), but then as he left the restaurant, it was revealed that his left hand was handcuffed during the telling of his entire flashbacked story to his dining partner

Henry Holland's Flashback About Being a London Bank Clerk for 20 Years Transporting Gold Bullion

Voice-Over: "I was a potential millionaire..."

Holland's Opportune Meeting Up With Fellow Lavender Hill Boarder Pendlebury

Shock That Eiffel Tower Kiosk Shopkeeper Had Sold 6 Statues

British Schoolgirls Descending in Eiffel Tower Elevator

False Directional Reports During Getaway


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