View Full Version : 50 Best British Films

10th Feb 2013, 16:03
The TV film critic Barry Norman has published his list of the best 50 British Films. Actually he has listed 49, and is inviting suggestions for the 50th. Here's his list, in alphabetical order.

1. Barry Lyndon, (1975) 2. Black Narcissus, (1947) 3. The Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957) 4. Brief Encounter (1945) 5. Chariots of Fire (1981) 6. A Clockwork Orange (1971) 7. The Cruel Sea (1952) 8. The Dam Busters (1954) 9. Dr No (1962) 10. Don't Look Now (1973) 11. Dracula (1958) 12. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) 13. The Full Monty (1997) 14. Gandhi (1982) 15. Get Carter (1971) 16. Gladiator (2000) 17. Great Expectations (1946) 18. Gregory's Girl (1980) 19. Henry V (1944) 20. I Know Where I'm Going (1945) 21. If (1968) 22. The Ipcress File (1965) 23. Kes (1969) 24. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) 25. The King's Speech (2010) 26. The Ladykillers (1955) 27 The Lady Vanishes (1938)28. Lawrence of Arabia (1965) 29. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) 30. Local Hero (1983) 31. The Long Good Friday (1979) 32. A Matter of Life and Death (1946) 33. The Life of Brian (1979) 34. Naked (1993) 35. The Railway Children (1970) 36. The Red Shoes (1948) 37. The Remains of the Day (1993) 38. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) 39. Secrets and Lies (1995) 40. Sense and Sensibility (1995) 41. The Servant (1963) 42. Shakespeare in Love (1998) 43. Skyfall (2012) 44. The Third Man (1949) 45. The 39 Steps (1935) 46. This Sporting Life (1963) 47. Trainspotting (1996) 48. Whisky Galore (1949) 49. Zulu (1963)

What's your suggestion for the 50th, and I'd like you to add the one you would you definitely remove from his list? One only in each category, please and remember - it's British films.

My nomination for the 50th slot is Ice Cold in Alex (1958), even though WW2 is pretty well represented already, and I'd remove the 1935 version of The Thirty-Nine Steps which IMHO is tosh, like most of Hitchcock's over-rated stuff :*

Over to you.

10th Feb 2013, 16:08
The Italian Job

The Lion in Winter, Monty Python & the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, The War Game, Battle of Britain, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The Wicker Man, Goodbye,Mr Chips (1939), Brassed Off, Ice Cold in Alex, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, The Titfield Thunderbolt, and, and, and,

Barry, I'm disappointed....

10th Feb 2013, 16:14
Battle of Britain

10th Feb 2013, 16:15
There's quite a few duds in Barry's list - 4 Weddings, Gregory's Girl, The Railway Children, Remains of the Day. And what on earth is Skyfall doing in there? The Spy Who Loved Me is by far the best 'modern' Bond film.

My nominations for the 50th? Bronson, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels or Dog Soldiers.

I didn't realise Life of Brian was made in 1946. It must have been well ahead of its time...

10th Feb 2013, 16:18
"Walkabout" gets my vote.

Milo Minderbinder
10th Feb 2013, 16:19
I'd remove at least 50% and probably close to 75% of those from the list on the grounds that they are pretentious crap, lightweight rubbish or quite simply boring.
Some of them may be interesting or amusing to watch, but "best"? No way.
There is the consideration though that theres not much to choose from as replacements....

Krystal n chips
10th Feb 2013, 16:19
Another vote for "The Italian Job " . Plus "Went the Day Well " and "The Elephant Man".

Remove: "Shakespeare in Love"

"Ice Cold in Alex" should have stayed on the cutting room floor TTN....in my less than humble opinion...;)

10th Feb 2013, 16:23
I didn't realise Life of Brian was made in 1946. It must have been well ahead of its time...

Typo fixed, Dead Pan ;)

10th Feb 2013, 16:23
I am surprised the Wicker Man is not in there.

Shakespeare in Love is just a load of pretentious twaddle and would not be missed.

tony draper
10th Feb 2013, 16:27
Agree with his first Barry Lyndon,great rip roaring yarn,cant stand Brit stiff upper lip operas (War Films)so none of them,how about 'The Englishman who went up a Hill an came down' a Mountain,a amusing wee movie.

10th Feb 2013, 16:33
U-571. :E

10th Feb 2013, 16:39
Tut tut Brick, go and play in Hamsterwheel like a good boy ;)

10th Feb 2013, 16:43
What qualifies a film as British?
Director, Producer, Cast, Set/Location, Storyline...?

Set/Location - Full Metal Jacket
Director - Shallow Grave (Danny Boyle)
Cast - Safe (Robert Carlyle as Nesty, Aiden Gillen as Gypo, Kate Hardie as Kaz, George Costigan as Sean)

10th Feb 2013, 16:57
Surprised The Wicker Man, The Italian Job and Battle of Britain.

"The Railway Children" should be in as it was a good film in it's day.

Krystal n chips
10th Feb 2013, 17:02
"The Railway Children" should be in as it was a good film in it's day "

It is, at No35.......and they used to let you blow things up ??:ooh:

Milo Minderbinder
10th Feb 2013, 17:06
And the film "Blowup" itself would be better than many of those listed

10th Feb 2013, 17:10
Dr Strangelove would be my Number 1

10th Feb 2013, 17:17

That comment re the Railway Children was directed at deadpan
who called it a dud.

10th Feb 2013, 17:19
'The Railway Children' is very good, but SASless's recommendation gives you the 'complete picture' :E

10th Feb 2013, 17:32
Very surprised that the Bond film franchise didn't make it in its entirety, let alone some of them specifically:

Casino Royale (Craig version, not Niven)

Krystal n chips
10th Feb 2013, 17:33
There you go...now deleted.

10th Feb 2013, 17:50
I don't agree with many of the 49 listed, but after all they are simply one man's opinion of what he considers the best. But keeping to TTN's brief for adding/removing only one of each:

I would ADD "Zulu Dawn" (1979), in order to balance the tremendous tub-thumping jingoism of "Zulu". The reason why such a fuss was made of the events at Rourke's Drift back in 1879 was to divert the public's attention from the appalling disaster of the previous day, at the battle of Isandlwana. The Zulu armies slaughtered about one thousand of the British forces there, one of the most humiliating defeats in British military history. "Zulu Dawn" depicts this accurately, but not surprisingly the film audiences of this "prequel" to "Zulu" didn't think as much of it as the umpteen VC's awarded after the Rourke's Drift skirmishes, and the film was not a success. I simply prefer that the whole story is told as a true record, not just the bit where "we won, chaps, aren't we all fantastic!"

I would REMOVE "A Clockwork Orange", which was a particularly nasty bit of sensationalism, rightly banned from showing for some years. And not worth watching when it was shown ... :yuk:

10th Feb 2013, 17:57
My list anyway -

10 Rillington Place
A Fish Called Wanda
Battle of Britain
Bridge on the River Kwai
Dambusters (1955)
Dinner For One
Fahrenheit 451
Life of Brian
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Reach for the Sky
Scrooge (1951)
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
To Sir With Love

What's with Clockwork Orange anyway? Busting into some bloke's home
and shagging his missus isn't exactly an epiphany in filmaking.

10th Feb 2013, 18:48
Angels One Five

10th Feb 2013, 18:57
Brick found the Button....."Mash!"


Mac the Knife
10th Feb 2013, 19:41
"And the film "Blowup" itself would be better than many of those listed"

Yep, another vote for "Blowup"

His early films are wonderful, but having seem "Zabriskie Point" as a teen, I watched it again the other night. What a feeble bit of directionless self-indulgent crap!Still, Daria Halprin is drop-dead gorgeous....


10th Feb 2013, 19:57
Best Pom flicks

Got me going there, Slasher ! Dodgy eyes+typeface+my mind = porn flicks until I read the titles.

10th Feb 2013, 20:30
dead Mens Shoes-Shane Meddows.

Scrap 4 weddings.:p

Airborne Aircrew
10th Feb 2013, 20:37
Brannagh's version of Henry V knocks Olivier's out of the list IMO...

Olivier's, while brilliant, was a WWII version designed to raise nationalist fervour. Brannagh made the play "raw", dirty and rough... Much better version...

10th Feb 2013, 20:58
50 Dead Men Walking - saw this last week and thought it was most excellent.

Carry on up the Khyber/Carry on Screaming?

tony draper
10th Feb 2013, 21:10
Agree re Dead Men's Shoes Mr G,was going to pick that one but I could not remember the title.
Also agree with Mr Airborne re Brannagh's Henry V,nobody will better Olivier's Richard III IMHO though.

Windy Militant
10th Feb 2013, 21:15
I'd Add The Maggie and replace Four weddings with That sinking feeling an earlier work by Bill Forsyth.

10th Feb 2013, 21:22
The Hill


10th Feb 2013, 21:26
and, as if Sean wasn't in the list enough, I've always enjoyed

The man who would be king

Worrals in the wilds
10th Feb 2013, 23:15
Agree with AA re Brannagh's Henry V. It's an excellent adaptation that IME introduced Shakespeare to a lot of 'normal' people. Likewise Polanski's Macbeth, though I don't know if it counts as a British film (it was made there, but financed from the US).

I'd also add Rebecca to the list and remove Shakespeare in Love.

11th Feb 2013, 00:13
I'd stick 'Kes' in there somewhere.

11th Feb 2013, 00:18

I agree, Kes is a good one :ok:

Airborne Aircrew
11th Feb 2013, 01:10

The one thing that dismayed me about Branagh's version of Henry V is that while he gave no quarter on the Shakespearean English he left out a short but critical piece of the play, one that I would love to be able to ask him why.

At the end of the Battle of Agincourt the French Knights are seen coming behind England's lines and destroying "the baggage" - the women and children. Fluellen is seen, true to the play, stating that this is clearly in breach of the rules of war.

In the original play Henry sees this and orders the killing of all the French prisoners. A righteous act under the circumstances.

I still cannot fathom why Branagh left out that tiny little piece because, as far as I can see, he's pretty much letter perfect for the entire rest of the play/film.

Worrals in the wilds
11th Feb 2013, 01:17
I'd forgotten that, will have to re-watch it. Did he do the scene that's in French? :confused: A local production company insisted on leaving it in (against advice) and the audience used to thin noticably at that point, as confused people wandered off to the bathroom or out for a smoke...:uhoh:

I wonder if having good ol' King Henry killing prisoners was seen as a bit non-PC for modern audiences; it's not very Geneva Convention-friendly. :} Just a guess...

11th Feb 2013, 01:23
deadpan :ok:

How could anyone go past at least one of the Carry On films. They are quintessentially British to their bootstraps. Bad jokes; smut; thin story line; tits and bums; and evergreen "actors". They are so bad they're good.

11th Feb 2013, 01:31
In that case throw in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang !

Although a classic for it's time, I don't think it makes
it into the top 50.

11th Feb 2013, 01:44
Does The Party qualify as British?

11th Feb 2013, 02:02
Ryan's Daughter.

11th Feb 2013, 02:43
Zardoz. It was a commercial failure, but it represents perfectly what was the spirit of the filmakers in the 70s. Post hippie style scifi movie (1974), excellent.
One of the best British movie.

11th Feb 2013, 02:48
I like "The Titfield Thunderbolt", and "Love Actually", but then everyone says I have poor taste!

11th Feb 2013, 03:12
Well, I'd drop "Gregory's Girl" and replace with what I consider a superb British film, "The Crying Game". Just for Helen Mirren's acting alone, I'd also put "The Queen" in the list and get rid of "Four Weddings and a Funeral".

11th Feb 2013, 04:29
My parents separated when I was quite young and my mother was awarded custody, however, she passed when I was still a young lad. This film was always one of my favorites as it seemed to hit close to home.

Shadowlands (1993) - IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108101/)

11th Feb 2013, 04:51
Sorry to hear that 11Fan.

11th Feb 2013, 05:23
Thanks KAG. What's amazing is that she passed over 40 years ago and even though we had so little time together, her influences are still with me today.

Cyber Bob
11th Feb 2013, 07:21
Rita, Sue and Bob too

11th Feb 2013, 07:24
I'd stick 'Kes' in there somewhere.

I agree, Kes is a good one http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:www.pprune.org/get/images/smilies/thumbs.gif

Where are you going to stick it? How about next to '23. Kes (1969)'? It's already in the list!

Have another free go, both of you!

11th Feb 2013, 08:19
Best Pom flicks

Got me going there, Slasher ! Dodgy eyes+typeface+my mind = porn flicks until I read the titles.

I can post same if you really want me to Vulc! :E

11th Feb 2013, 08:23

Oops, sorry :(

11th Feb 2013, 08:42
Trying not repeat any of the above...

O Lucky Man!
Britannia Hospital (a Trilogy)

Withnail and I
Passport to Pimlico**
The Importance of Being Earnest (with Margaret Rutherford)
Local Hero
My Beautiful Laundrette
2001 A Space Odyssey
The Long Good Friday
Mona Lisa
Billy Liar
Goodbye Mr Chips
Brighton Rock (the original)
Shaun of the Dead
Hot Fuzz
The Man Who Fell to Earth (with David Bowie)
Moon (by his son)
A Fish Called Wanda
A Man for All Seasons
Billy Elliot
Lucky Jim
The Mouse That Roared
Our Main in Havana (from Graham Greene)
Alfie (the original)
The Plank (Eric Sykes)
Educating Rita

* I know it's on the original list, that skips the sequels and I thought it better to repeat all three (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britannia_Hospital).

**But I'll include any of the Ealing Comedies or those made from classic farces such as Charlie's Aunt, The Happiest Days of Your Life,

Worrals in the wilds
11th Feb 2013, 08:56
Some great films there. :ok:
However, was 2001 a British film or a co-production? Kubrick is a Yank and the main actors were all American. :8

11th Feb 2013, 09:02
However, was 2001 a British film or a co-production? Let's call it a draw......

2001: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001:_A_Space_Odyssey_(film))

Produced and distributed by the American studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film was made almost entirely in England, using both the studio facilities of MGM's subsidiary "MGM British" (among the last movies to be shot there before its closure in 1970)[4] and those of Shepperton Studios, mostly because of the availability of much larger sound stages than in the United States. The film was also co-produced by Kubrick's own "Stanley Kubrick Productions". Kubrick, having already shot his previous two films in England, decided to settle there permanently during the filming of Space Odyssey. Though Space Odyssey was released in the United States over a month before its release in the United Kingdom, and Encyclopędia Britannica calls this an American film,[5] other sources refer to it as an American, British, or American-British production.[6]

11th Feb 2013, 09:31
I too am surprised at the lack of comedies in the original list so Carry On Up The Khyber or Cleo (not sure which!) would get my vote. Failing that, Two Way Stretch.

Worrals in the wilds
11th Feb 2013, 09:42
Fair enough. I didn't realise Kubrick moved to the UK.
Great film either way; it set the bar for several generations of intelligent SF movies. I'm still waiting for the screen adaptation of Against the Fall of Night / The City and the Stars, which IMO was Clarke's greatest work.

11th Feb 2013, 12:01
I agree on Ice Cold in Alice - a great film.

Even as a kid I hated the Railway Children so that must go

11th Feb 2013, 14:21
Should have included Sleuth on that list: Olivier and Caine.

The Hill ... did I miss that? Enjoyed it.

Four Weddings and a WTF? Top 50? No.

11th Feb 2013, 14:39
What does Shakespeare Wallah count as - British? Indian? Felicity Kendal (just 19 at the time) gets all my votes.

I remember Hue and Cry being a lot of fun. Whether it was a good movie, I don't know. 'Remember what happened to Nicky the Nark'.

11th Feb 2013, 14:47
I'm not sure whether one can add Treasure Island - 1950 - to the list. It was a Disney film but stuffed full of mainly British actors and is the origin of the archetypal 'pirate accent' thanks to Robert Newton.

It was absolutely faithful to the R L Stevenson book and has stood the test of time.

11th Feb 2013, 18:23
I'm surprised no-one has mentioned "A Shot in The Dark" - the second of the Inspector Clouseau/Pink Panther series and a vintage Sellers performance. Hilarious.