Alec Guinness, Kind Hearts and Coronets

The Alec Guinness Collection


From 1949 until 1955, a ramshackle studio in England turned out a series of barbed, pitch-black social satires that became their own beloved genre — the ”Ealing comedy” — and brought worldwide fame to their droll chameleon of a star, Alec Guinness. The five-film, no-extras Alec Guinness Collection — which gathers ”Kind Hearts and Coronets” (1949), ”The Lavender Hill Mob” (1951), ”The Man in the White Suit” (1951), ”The Ladykillers” (1955), and the non-Ealing-but-in-the-spirit ”Captain’s Paradise” (1953) — offers a great opportunity to assess, 50 years on, what’s aged well (that would be Guinness’ superbly understated, Zeliglike ability to disappear into virtually any role and mine it for every laugh) and what hasn’t: The movies themselves seem a bit victimized by the on-the-cheap productions, the more-clever-than-actually-funny dialogue, and the occasional salvo of unquaint racism, although the sly, dry ”Ladykillers” is good enough to make you understand why the Coen brothers are eager to remake it.

The Alec Guinness Collection
  • Movie