This year’s series, hosted by Assistant Circulation Manager, Matthew C. Hoffman leaves the confines of Hollywood cinema and journeys across the pond to explore the golden age of British comedy through the films of Ealing Studios, the oldest continuously working film studio in the world. Though they made films of all genres including filming of Downton Abbey scenes, the Library will be highlighting the comedies from the late 1940s through the mid-1950s.
The humor in these films ranges from the subtle and delicate to the downright bizarre. Ealing Studios had an abundance of talent both in front of and behind the camera. Producer Sir Michael Balcon’s films often vividly depict post-war London, typically showing the triumph of the underdog with stories that were predominantly character-driven. They are engaging, witty, evocative of time and place, as well as providing a fair share of satire and social commentary.
Four of the films in our program were shot by the cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, who later worked on the Indiana Jones films. Comedy genius Peter Sellers made an appearance in the heist film The Ladykillers—later remade in 2004 with Tom Hanks. But the one actor that is most associated with Ealing at this time is Sir Alec Guinness—best known to us as Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Star Wars films. Before becoming a Jedi Knight, Guinness was one of the most diversified and distinguished actors in the business. He appears in five of our six films, playing a timid bank clerk in The Lavender Hill Mob, an inventor in The Man in the White Suit, and the rather creepy “Professor” in The Ladykillers. In the black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets, he portrayed eight characters of a doomed family!
While decidedly English in tone and manner, the Ealing comedies are nonetheless universal in their appeal. Their influence cannot be underestimated. Any quirky British comedy made today featuring an ensemble cast is often compared to these classics of seventy years ago. For more information, please visit: www.parkridgeclassicfilm.com.
Whisky Galore! (1949)
The inhabitants of a Scottish island cannot resist the temptation of 50,000 cases of stranded whisky when a captain stands in their way.
MARCH 7 (Wednesday Night Screening)
A Run for Your Money (1949)
Brothers from a Welsh village take their first trip to London to collect a prize and meet a con artist.
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
A relative of the Duke of D’Ascoyne plots to gain the title by murdering the eight other heirs.
The Man in the White Suit (1951)
A chemist invents a fabric that resists wear but both big business and labor realize it must be suppressed for economic reasons.
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
A bank clerk joins an eccentric neighbor to steal gold bars and smuggle them out of the country.
The Ladykillers (1955)
Five oddball criminals planning a bank robbery rent rooms under the pretext they are classical musicians.