Remember when the words ‘British crime comedy’ didn’t inspire a sense of creeping dread? It may not be as smart and savage as ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’, as scabrously political as ‘The Man in the White Suit’ or as downright bloody-minded as ‘The Ladykillers’, but ‘The Lavender Hill Mob’ might be the archetypal Ealing comedy. It’s got everything the studio is famous for – loveable crooks, class conflict, London streets, avuncular bobbies, pratfalls, slapstick, tea, buns and Alec Guinness – but with a Hitchcock-inspired thriller plot that makes it the most pacily enthralling of their features. Guinness and Stanley Holloway play the bumbling suburbanites whose plot to hijack a van full of gold bullion and smuggle it abroad disguised as Eiffel Tower paperweights leads to all manner of hijinks and hysteria. Charles Crichton’s direction is subtle but inventive – check out the snaking, near-single-take opening in a Rio cabana – and the performances, writing and plotting are faultless.