A welcome re-release for this classic Ealing comedy – a deliriously amusing, endearingly innocuous, quintessentially British and oddly intelligent farce. Alec Guinness plays the lead (another fascinating, startlingly unique performance from one of Britain’s greatest actors) – an introverted man whose job is to watch over the transport of gold bullion fresh from the furnace to the bank. His wages are meagre, and of course, it isn’t long before he’s giving into the temptation to organise a foolproof robbery.
With some ingenious set pieces, of which my personal favourites are a race with an elevator to the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, a dash for a ferry leaving from Calais and an escape from a police exhibition in a stolen police car (yes – the film really is that crazy), this ridiculous piece of crime comedy is a treasure. There were some older members of the audience laughing with nostalgia as much as genuine hilarity, because, to quote the cliché, ‘they simply don’t make them like this anymore’. A thirty second cameo by Audrey Hepburn near the beginning of the film, before she rose to stardom with Roman Holiday two years later, is the icing on one zany cake.
Review by LiveWire Young Film Critic, James Martin (October ’11)