Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Best British Films

My friend Kevin alerted me to a new list of 100 Best British Films, compiled by Time Out Magazine. I say it's a new list because the British Film Institute has already done a top 100 British films but this list is quite different. For example, The Third Man does not rank number one on the Time Out list; that spot goes to Don't Look Now. Now, I love Don't Look Now as much as the next 1970s horror fan, but it's not better than The Third Man, at least in my game of poker.

The real reason to look at the list is that they compile everyone they polled and give you their individual Top Tens. This, to me, is far more interesting than the big list. Who knew that Thandie Newton's favorite British film is The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner?

So, because I love making lists like my cat loves shoelaces, I thought I'd do my top ten Brit Flicks, not an easy task. Here they are, in order.

10. The Wings of the Dove (1997)
A film I love a lot more than anyone I know. Contains, I believe, one of the greatest screen performances ever by Helena Bonham Carter.

9. Walkabout (1971)
Unpleasant but unshakeable. Australian children lost in the wilderness.

8. Dead of Night (1945)
My choice for greatest British horror film. It has some flawed moments but the final sequence seals the deal.

7. Mona Lisa (1986)
 My favorite British noir and a heartbreaking tragedy.

6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Everything came together for the sixth Bond film--best story, best Bond girl, best music. Well, everything but best Bond. Would Connery have worked in this odd film? We'll never know.

5. The 39 Steps (1935)
The first of many perfectly-realized Hitchcock films.

4. Local Hero (1983)
A love story between a man and a place. Dry wit and and magical realism.

3. I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)
My favorite Powell & Pressburger, also about love and about place.

2. The Third Man (1949)
Not only is this one of the great thrillers it also has some great comedy, zither music, and an unrequited love story.

1. The Lady Vanishes (1938)
I do believe this is the greatest melding of adventure, comedy and romance. It is also the British version of Stagecoach and a call to arms for pre-war Britain.


  1. Obviously its stupid to comment on something as subjective as a personal top ten list. But I am going to do it anyway: The Third Man at #2 again!? Blaphemy.

  2. And in my blind outrage I misspelled "blasphemy"!

  3. Oh, another reason to have a list. I love lists as well as your cat. I must borrow this idea and post my own faves on my blog too! Let me think on it. I agree with some of your choices, Peter so I will work around them. I've never seen WINGS OF THE DOVE, so I will have to rectify that asap.

    I love THE LADY VANISHES and THE 39 STEPS so they will definitely be on my list as well.
    Love LOCAL HERO, so that's a no-brainer. But between you and me I've always found THE THIRD MAN fatiguing.

    Lists, lists, wonderful lists. Love 'em.

  4. I also love Local Hero and liked I Know Where I'm Going a lot. The Third Man is on TCM Sunday and I'm going to try it again. I've watched a couple of times, but feel like I haven't quite 'gotten it.' Maybe this time. And I love those fellows in The Lady Vanishes - Charters and Caldecott. I recently saw them in another film, also with Margaret Lockwood, called Last Train To Munich. Really liked it as well.

  5. Nan, Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne reprised their Charters and Caldicott roles many times but you've already seen the two best. They are also in Dead of Night, not as Charters and Caldicott but they might as well be. They play a couple of golf-obsessed ghosts in the weakest section of the film.

    Kevin, just be happy I didn't include Withnail and I on the list. It nearly made it.