Ealing Comedy Collection

08/11/2004
  |  Buy to Own: 08/11/2004
  |  710 min
Rated TBC by the BBFC

Synopsis

A collection of eight classic comedies made by Ealing Studios. In the first of the Ealing comedies, 'Hue and Cry' (1947), a bunch of crooks use a comic paper featuring stories penned by Felix H. Wilkinson (Alastair Sim) to pass on coded messages for robberies. When the comic's readership - a bunch of East End boys - discover what's going on, they go to the police. The local constabulary, however, are no help, so the plucky lads set out to foil the robbers themselves. 'Kind Hearts and Coronets' (1949) is a comedy set in the early 20th century. Young Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) vows to take revenge on his family, the D'Ascoynes, when he learns how they disinherited his mother. Working his way into their trust, Louis begins to bump off his distant relatives (all played by Alec Guinness) one by one - but complications set in when Edith D'Ascoyne (Valerie Hobson), the widow of his first victim, falls in love with him. In 'Passport to Pimlico' (1949), a hitherto unexploded bomb goes off in Pimlico, uncovering documents revealing that this part of London in fact belongs to Burgundy in France. An automonous state is set up in a spirit of optimism, but the petty squabbles of everyday life soon shatter the Utopian vision of a non-restrictive nation. 'The Magnet' (1950) is a gentle comedy about childhood, guilt and half-truths starring a young James Fox (then known by his real name, William Fox) as Johnny Brent, a mischievous boy who tricks a younger boy (Keith Robinson) into giving him his magnet in return for an 'invisible' clock. Having successfully obtained the magnet, Johnny immediately starts to feel guilty about his swindling behaviour. His guilt sparks a chain of misplaced assumptions that lead to a search being mounted for the boy, who has run away after becoming convinced that he is wanted for murder. In 'The Lavender Hill Mob' (1951), which features an early cameo by Audrey Hepburn, nobody would ever suspect gold bullion delivery man Henry Holland (Guinness) of anything other than total devotion to his job. However, with the aid of fellow lodger Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway), he gathers together a gang to carry out a heist, intending to smuggle the gold out of the country by melting it down into miniature models of the Eiffel Tower. All goes well until the consignment of models becomes muddled up with another, non-golden batch... In 'The Man in the White Suit' (1951), eccentric Sidney Stratton (Guiness) is a laboratory cleaner in a textile factory who invents a material that will neither wear out nor become dirty. Initially hailed as a great discovery, Sidney's astonishing invention is suffocated by the management when they realise that if it never wears out, people will only ever have to purchase one suit of clothing. 'The Titfield Thunderbolt' (1952) tells the story of a group of villagers who, angered by British Rail's decision to close down their local branch line, make a bid to run the service themselves, making use of an antique locomotive liberated from a local museum. Finally, in 'The Ladykillers' (1955), the last of the Ealing comedies, eccentric landlady Mrs Wilberforce (Katie Johnson) believes her new lodger, Professor Marcus (Guinness), and his associates the Major (Cecil Parker), Louis (Herbert Lom), Harry (Peter Sellers) and One-Round (Danny Green) to be amateur musicians. However, they are in fact the perpetrators of a bank heist, looking to whisk their ill-gotten gains out of London. All goes well until Mrs Wilberforce is persuaded by Marcus to claim his 'trunk' from the station; it is only then that the criminal genius's carefully laid plans begin to go awry... The set also includes the documentary tribute 'Forever Ealing' narrated by Daniel Day-Lewis, featuring contributions from Stephen Frears and Terry Gilliam among others.