Deft acting meets daft British comedy in five of the funniest films ever made, all starring the incomparable Sir Alec early in his illustrious career. A genius of sly understatement and subtle characterization, Guinness set the bar for over-the-top hilarity so high that few have reached it since. This treasure trove consists of "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (1949), "The Lavender Hill Mob" (1951), "The Man in the White Suit" (1952), and "The Ladykillers" (1955). We didn't think the collection would be complete without the stellar "Captain's Paradise" (1953), which we've added as a bonus. Color and b&w, about 7-1/2 hours on 5 DVDs. Simon says: While honing his craft, Guinness worked as an advertising executive.
Five of the British film industry's best-loved comedies in one boxed set makes The Alec Guinness Collection absolutely essential for anyone who has any passion at all for movies. It contains Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Captain's Paradise (1953) (only available in this set), and The Ladykillers (1955). The Ealing Studio's greatest comedies captured the essence of post-war Britain, both in their evocation of a land once blighted by war but now rising doggedly and optimistically again from the ashes, and in their mordant yet graceful humor. They portray a country with an antiquated class system whose crumbling conventions are being undermined by a new spirit of individual opportunism. In the delightfully wicked Kind Hearts and Coronets, a serial killer politely murders his way into the peerage; in The Lavender Hill Mob a put-upon bank clerk schemes to rob his employers; The Man in the White Suit is a harshly satirical depiction of idealism crushed by the status quo; in The Captain's Paradise, a ferryboat captain complements his proper British wife with a fiery Spanish wife; while The Ladykillers mocks both the criminals and the authorities with its unlikely octogenarian heroine Mrs. "lop-sided" Wilberforce. Many factors contribute to these films' success--including fine music scores from composers such as Benjamin Frankel (Man in the White Suit), Malcolm Arnold (Captain's Paradise), and Tristram Cary (The Ladykillers); positively symphonic sound effects (White Suit); marvelously evocative locations (the environs of King's Cross in Ladykillers, for example); and writing that always displays Ealing's unique perspective on British social mores ("All the exuberance of Chaucer without, happily, any of the concomitant crudities of his period")--yet arguably their greatest asset is Alec Guinness, whose multifaceted performances are the keystone upon which Ealing built its biting, often macabre, yet always elegant comedy. --Mark Walker