by the British Film Institute


UK-British Films
Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Top 100 British Films of 20th Century: Early in 1999, the British Film Institute (BFI) produced a selection booklet and sent copies to 1,000 people embracing all strands of the film, cinema and television industries throughout the UK - producers, directors, writers, actors, technicians, academics, exhibitors, distributors, executives and critics. Participants were asked to consider (and vote for up to 100) 'culturally British' feature films, released in cinemas during the 20th century, which they felt had made a strong and lasting impression on the art form and the culture. Altogether, more than 25,700 votes were cast, covering 820 different films. The final selection makes compulsive reading. Descriptions were excerpted from the BFI web site.

The BFI admitted:

The key to the BFI 100, though, is that it does provoke an argument. Of course one person might urge that one title should be included or another not. Of course, there may be films that are not on this list which one could argue passionately merit a place...The list is intended, and offered, as a starting-point for any discussion, rather than as an end to one.

Facts and Commentary About the Top 100 British Film Institute (BFI) Selections:

  • The films spanned seven decades, from 1935 to 1998, and the list accommodated the work of 70 film directors and much international talent.

  • The list contained no silent films. The earliest film included was Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935) at #4. There was just one documentary on the list: Fires Were Started (1943) - at # 89.

  • Of the seven decades represented (1930s to 1990s), the most represented decade was the 1960s, and the least represented was the 1930s. There were three from the 1930s; 16 from the 1940s; 10 from the 1950s; 26 from the 1960s; 10 from the 1970s; 18 from the 1980s; and 17 from the 1990s.

  • David Lean directed six of the 100 films and co-directed another, with Noel Coward: In Which We Serve (1942) at #92.

  • The actor with the most included films to his credit was Sir Alec Guinness, who appeared in nine films, three of them in the top 10: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Great Expectations (1946), and Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949).

  • Michael Caine and Julie Christie each starred in six films.

  • Unsurprisingly, literary adaptations featured strongly - ranging from Shakespeare and Dickens to Roddy Doyle and Irvine Welsh - and the highbrow mixed easily with the low, as one favorite Carry On was found on the list.
Note: The films that are marked with a yellow star are the films
that "The Greatest Films" site has selected as the "100 Greatest Films".

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