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Tis said of some actors that no matter what part they are playing, they are always themselves. Edward G. Robinson is always Edward G. Robinson, for example, and so is Charles Laughton. But about all that can be said of Alcc Guinness as he metamorphoses from part to part is that he is one of the most consistently funny men in films today.
In "The Lavender Hill Mob," Guinness is a petty bank official, a man who counts gold ingots as they are delivered from refinery to the vault. His name is Henry Holland (most fictitious meek Englishmen are named Henry), and his indrawn chin and cautiously ambling gait are the touches of a perfectionist. But behind Henry's humble facade there lies an astute mind, and when he has gathered his "mob" of two hoodlums around him to plan his gold robbery, he is a different man.
His partner happens to remark during the planning session that "Holland's the boss." Holland leans back in his chair, looks at his companions, and says, "Yes, I am the boss." It's a good line, delivered with a good smirk, and there's no improving on that. In fact, it would be hard to improve on Guiness' performance at any point in the picture.
Even when Guinness is not occupying the center of the screen, there is virtually no letdown. There is no need to mention names, but the supporting players are all excellent. The situation is a trite one basically, but the decorations are what counts, and they are embellished to perfection. There is a police car chase in the best manner of W.C. Fields, a well-executed double-take ending, and a wealth of subtle English mannerisms that are consistently delightful.
But this is all digression. If you are in the mood for light entertainment, go confidently to the Exeter, and rest assured that Guinness is good for you.
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