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 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.
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 OswaldMoseley, 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:
Armed Blag: Discussed, but written off as too "dangerous and messy" compared to robbing the bank itself.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: the previous crimes of the men range from being drunk in charge of bomb disposal (causing the deaths of four soldiers) and executing suspected terrorists without trial, to not paying excessive bar bills and being homosexual (illegal at the time). Also counts as Values Dissonance.
Creator Cameo: Director Basil Dearden has an uncredited cameo as Stevens' blackmailer.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Hyde is familiar with how heists tend to go wrong both in crime fiction and real life, and sets out to avert these tropes in order to commit the perfect crime (enlisting trained military men and enforcing military discipline in the operation; paying everyone equally and handsomely and promising equal compensation to avoid anyone betraying the group out of greed). He also expected that someone from the group would follow him to his home after the initial meeting and therefore dug pot holes on his property.
Deadpan Snarker: A lot of the script. A highlight is the dialog between Hyde and Race regarding the portrait of Hyde's wife.
Depraved Homosexual: Stevens isn't one, but Lexy obviously believes in the trope, given his worry about rooming with him.
Men Can't Keep House: True of Hyde, who is separated from his wife and lives alone in a mansion, subsisting on ready-made food from cans and rarely cleans up dishes and doesn't keep the place particularly neat.
Mildly Military: Invoked; Hyde thinks the best way to ensure military precision is to use ex-servicemen and insist on military discipline.
Murder Simulators: In-universe, Hyde gets the idea for the plan from a crime novel and expects the others to be similarly inspired when they read it (they aren't, although they are interested once they learn of his plan).
Only in It for the Money: This is Lexy's motivation, and it is implied that he escaped more serious punishment for selling secrets because he was motivated by greed rather than Communist ideology.
Stranger in a Familiar Land: One persistent theme (or at least Hyde's perception) is that the group are members of the old guard who don't fit in/are unappreciated in 1960's England. Made somewhat questionable by the fact that except for Hyde, all of them are in a bad position due to criminal behavior (sometimes quite serious) or bad personal choices.