Alec Guinness (1914–2000) was one of British cinema’s most brilliant actors. A commanding presence in film, theater, and TV for half a century, he was more versatile than most movie stars and more popular than most character actors. He appeared in an enviable number of timeless classics, from Charles Dickens adaptations, to the Ealing Studios comedies that made him a star, to the box-office heights of the great David Lean epics. And then came the Star Wars films, which left him forever plagued by endless piles of fan mail! 

This summer, the Museum’s repertory programming spotlights many of Guinness’s most entertaining performances, well worth experiencing on the big screen in the company of other cinephiles. Film descriptions courtesy of the British Film Institute.

• Find out more in this blog post!

• Read the extensive Houston Chronicle article by Louis Parks!

Generous funding for this series provided by the Vaughn Foundation.


The Ladykillers

1955,
35mm
Alexander Mackendrick

In one of his most inspired and fondly remembered comedy roles, Alec Guinness is the ghoulish leader of a gang of disorderly robbers posing as a music quintet.

The Lavender Hill Mob

1951,
Digital
Charles Crichton

Alec Guinness’s first Oscar nomination was for his role as baby-faced bank employee Henry Holland, who hatches a plan to steal the gold bullion he is supposed to protect in this crime comedy.

Tunes of Glory

1960,
35mm
Ronald Neame

An unexpectedly moving drama starring Alec Guinness (in his own favorite performance) as a lieutenant colonel who decides to make life hard for his superior officer.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

1957,
Digital
David Lean

Alec Guinness won the Oscar for Best Actor for his insanely disciplined Colonel Nicholson, who misguidedly agrees to take charge of the enemy’s bridge-building project in this David Lean–directed jungle adventure set in a Japanese P.O.W. camp.


Past Events in This Series

Kind Hearts and Coronets

1949,

Robert Hamer

One of Alec Guinness’s most celebrated cinema turns is among his most theatrical. In this black comedy, Guinness plays nine members of a noble family who are murdered one by one.

The Man in the White Suit

1951,
Digital
Alexander Mackendrick

Alec Guinness shines in this evergreen satire about the creation of a fabric that never gets dirty and never wears out. 

Oliver Twist

1948,
35mm
David lean

David Lean was puzzled when pale, young Alec Guinness asked to play Fagin, Charles Dickens’s grotesque old king of pickpockets. A screen test won Guinness the part in his second film role and second collaboration with Lean.

Great Expectations

1946,
35mm
David Lean

Alec Guinness’s first film role is also the first of many collaborations with director David Lean. Guinness is boyish gentleman Herbert Pocket in this 1946 film adaptation of of Charles Dickens’s novel.