Chariots Of Fire, Quartermass And The Pit, Withnail & I. The much-abused British film industry has produced some classics in its time – and we all have our favourites. So, hang out the bunting, put on your Union Jack undies and join Greg Evans, in this two part feature, to celebrate 20 of the very Best of British films.
Chariots Of Fire,
Quartermass And The Pit, Withnail & I. The much-abused British film industry has produced some
classics in its time – and we all have our favourites. So, hang out the
bunting, put on your Union Jack undies and join Greg Evans, in this two part
feature, to celebrate 20 of the very Best of British films.
Living in Britain can make
you a bit depressed. Miserable weather, bickering politicians and the shattered
expectations that come with supporting national football teams. However, we
also have plenty to be proud of. A
grand history, some of the best galleries and museums in the world,
groundbreaking musicians and, of course, the upcoming Olympic games. But
perhaps our greatest successes have been in the medium of film. The incredible
number of outstanding films and directors that have come from these shores is
staggering. Many have stuck true to their roots and continued to make films
here in Britain. Others have gone on to superstardom in Hollywood. From greats
like Alfred Hitchcock or Ridley Scott to national treasures such
as Mike Leigh, Ken Russell or Hammer, Britain
is exceptionally lucky to have given birth to amazing films and incredible
filmmakers. So without further ado lets take a look at some of the all time
great British films.
It would be wrong
to exclude James Bond from this
list. Perhaps second to only Harry
Potter, 007 is one of the greatest British film franchises. Sean Connery remains the quintessential
Bond and Goldfinger is still his most iconic film. Connery, with his smart
gadgets and classic Aston Martin is
effortlessly stylish. Accompanied by some of the sexiest Bond girls ever and
pitted against one of the most dastardly Bond villains in Auric Goldfinger,
this is still the Bond film that all the others aspire to be.
Danny Boyle’s gritty take on Edinburgh
heroin addicts was the iconic film of the 1990’s. A brilliant soundtrack,
stimulating imagery and topped off with some fantastic performances by Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle made it the most talked about film of a generation.
Its grim take on drug abuse put other films of the same ilk to shame, plus it
contains the scariest movie baby ever. Choose Life.
Legendary directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made some brilliant films in the pre- and
post-war period including classics such as The
Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp and
Black Narcissus. The Red Shoes, though, is the film they still get the most
acclaim for. The movie tells the tale of the young ballerina, Victoria Page,
who is on the verge of becoming one of the best dancers in the world. As fate
would have it, though, she is forced to choose between her dream and her lover.
The Red Shoes is far from your standard song and dance movie. It is, at times,
pure theatre, with some spectacular set pieces and cinematography. Throw in
some intriguing dialogue and a complex narrative you arguably have the greatest
dance movie ever made.
Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Whether it is about spying
or not, Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation
of John Le Carre’s captivating cold
war novel was an undeniable masterpiece. Chock full of some of the biggest
names in British cinema (Gary Oldman,
Colin Firth, Mark Strong, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom
Hardy) Alfredson managed to breath new and exciting life in to what should
be a standard spy film. Full of deceit and treachery, its depiction of 1970’s
Britain was a cigarette stenched, Brylcreemed haven. It may have been a bit
slow for the majority, but its epic conclusion was highly rewarding.
Hearts And Coronets
Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) is a noble, intellectual
English gentleman, who just happens to be a murderer. After being shunned by
her wealthy family, the D’Ascoynes (played entirely by Alec Guinness) in her hour of need, Mazzini’s mother is forced to
raise him on her own. After her death Louis begins to take revenge on his
ignorant relatives and claim the role that is rightfully his; the Duke of
Chalfont. However, there are a few individuals in his way, so he decides he
must kill them off one by one. Perhaps one of the first black comedies ever
made, Kind Hearts And Coronets is a frequently hilarious, truly sinister film
with the dark ramifications of the story always on full display. A great piece
of British satire.
Carter (Main Picture)
After suspecting that his
brother’s death was no accident, London
gangster Jack Carter, begins to investigate his brothers demise in Newcastle’s underworld. Michael Caine has been in such a mixed
bag of films throughout his career that it’s easy to overlook some of his
greatest performances. Get Carter is still his best. Immaculately cool and
unstoppable in the pursuit of his brother’s killers, Caine is completely in his
element here. Few British actors command the respect that he does, even if he
does star in rubbish like Journey 2!
Voices, Still Lives
The softly spoken Terence Davies has always been a
champion of working class values. His debut feature Distant Voices, Still Lives
is a semi-autobiographical film that tells the story of a Liverpudlian family
in the 1940’s and 50’s who are ruled over by a dominating father. The late Pete Postlethwaite is incredible as the
strict and cruel father whose harsh outlook on life is outweighed by the
optimism of his family. Featuring more singing than most musicals and the
longest drinks orders ever, Distant Voices, Still Lives encapsulates a time
that is probably now more of a memory for many of this countries’ older
Of the new crop of British
filmmakers, Shane Meadows has
emerged as the one of the most realistic and explosive directors working today.
His unashamed love for his home county of the East Midlands is clear to see in all of his films and his
commitment to using local acting talents is highly commendable and encouraging.
This Is England was his real breakout film. It follows young Shaun, in 1983 who
falls in with the local skinhead gang. Although this group are welcoming and
serve as a second family to Shaun, they unfortunately have unwanted friend in
the shape of the National Front movement. This is England is an uncompromising
look at an unwanted period in English history that many choose to forget.
Equally heart warming and
bleak Ken Loach’s northern tale of a
young boy and his adopted kestrel is a real British classic. Not many films
come along that still have the stark effect on an audience that Kes does, even
it is well over 40 years old. Often imitated but never surpassed Kes continues
to win new fans of all ages – a miraculous achievement considering its
pessimistic outlook on life. What cements its legacy even further is that Ken
Loach continues to make great films to this day, winning acclaim for The Angels Share and Looking For Eric. A real British
Throughout his illustrious
career Stanley Kubrick outshone many
of his British counterparts. Films like Dr
Strangelove and 2001: A Space
Odyssey transcends any particular nation and cemented Kubrick as one of the
great cinematic visionaries. To keep it British, perhaps his most notorious
film, A Clockwork Orange is included here. Incredibly violent and disturbing,
this portrayal of a dystopian Britain was so controversial that even Kubrick
himself asked for it to be removed from distribution. Whatever your views on A
Clockwork Orange are, it’s hard to deny its vision and impact on the history of