A truly charming heist movie gets the Criterion treatment

The Criterion Collection’s newest box set, “Basil Dearden’s London Underground,” includes four of the most interesting (and controversial) movies to have come out of postwar/pre-Beatles Britain. All are worth watching, but Dearden’s 1960 heist movie The League of Gentlemen is the pick of the litter. (Available on January 25.)

Jack Hawkins’s ex–army colonel plans a perfect bank robbery and recruits a group of former officers—Richard Attenborough among them—to pull it off. The plot’s reasonably tight, and the comedy’s so well played that the film gradually morphs into a character study: It’s an English prototype for Hollywood productions like Charade. (In fact, that film’s Cary Grant turned down the Hawkins part in this one.)

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A truly charming heist movie gets the Criterion treatment