Film / The League of Gentlemen

A classic British crime comedy, directed by Basil Dearden and released in 1960.

Involuntarily-retired Lieutenant-Colonel Hyde recruits seven other dissatisfied ex-servicemen for a special project. Each of the men has a skeleton in the cupboard, is short of money, and is a service-trained expert in his field. The job is a bank robbery, and military discipline and planning are imposed by Hyde and second-in-command Race on the team, although civilian irritations do start getting in the way.

Introduced a lot of the tropes now common to The Caper and the Impossible Mission. Not to be confused with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or The League of Gentlemen, although the titles of both reference this film.

The team consists of:

  • Lieutenant-Colonel Hyde (Jack Hawkins), the leader and mastermind, who has no criminal record, but sets up the operation because he's disgruntled about his forced retirement and low compensation at the end of his years of service
  • Major Race (Nigel Patrick), a Professional Gambler and Card Sharp who resigned his commission just in time to escape prosecution for running a smuggling ring
  • Major Rutland-Smith (Terence Alexander), a young man of aristocratic background who married a society beauty who rescued him from some embarrassing debts, and now holds him on a tight leash and openly cuckolds him.
  • Captain "Padre" Mycroft (Roger Livesey), a former Quartermaster dismissed for public indecency. Post-war, he works as a Con Man, and has a specialty in impersonating a clergyman.
  • Captain Porthill (Bryan Forbes), dismissed for killing enemy prisoners who were members of EOKA, he now learns a living The Piano Player and a gigolo.
  • Lieutenant Lexy (Richard Attenborough), a communications specialist who was dismissed for selling secrets to The Russians, and now works as a mechanic with a sideline of rigging slot machines for criminals in the casino industry.
  • Captain Stevens (Kieron Moore), a burly former follower of Oswald Moseley, who left that movement before it made a black mark on his record, but was later dismissed for homosexuality (then illegal) and now runs a gym and deals with a persistent blackmailer due to his orientation.
  • Captain Weaver (Norman Bird), a former bomb-disposal specialist and alcoholic, who caused the death of four soldiers due to being drunk on duty. Post-war, he has become The Teetotaler, and lives a quiet life running a clock/watch repair shop.

Tropes present in this work include: