76. Billy Liar (1963), directed by John Schlesinger
Tom Courtenay is terrific as Billy, the ambitious but intently lazy
young man who escapes from the dull routine of his job by entering a
fantasy world, making some comments along the way about Britain's middle
class life. Based on the novel by Keith Waterhouse, and scripted by
Waterhouse and Willis Hall (who also wrote the stage version together),
this remains tremendous, well-acted entertainment.
77. Oliver! (1968), directed by Carol Reed
Rousing, constantly enjoyable musical version of Dickens's Oliver
Twist from Lionel Bart, with a memorable central performance by
Ron Moody as Fagin. In fact, every part is well cast, with Mark Lester
and Jack Wild also excellent as Oliver and the Artful Dodger respectively,
and Oliver Reed finding a perfect role as the vicious Bill Sikes in
a film directed by his uncle. Oliver! won six Oscars, including
Best Picture and Director, along with a special prize to Oona King for
her inspired choreography. The marvellous sets are by John Box, who
designed several films for David Lean.
78. Peeping Tom (1960), directed by Michael
Michael Powell's notorious Peeping Tom was so vilified by the
British critics when first released that it was swiftly withdrawn and
the episode almost ended Powell's career. It was later re-evaluated
and perceived as a creepy, frightening picture about a very disturbed
mind. Carl Boehm (whose cool Teutonic looks work very well for the title
role) plays the cameraman who films his victims' murders, while Anna
Massey is the innocent girl downstairs who becomes his confidant. It
is certainly disturbing cinema, perhaps ahead of its time, and remains
a powerful visual document.
79. Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), directed
by John Schlesinger
Beautifully shot film version of Thomas Hardy's much-loved (and much-studied)
novel about Bathsheba Everdene (the excellent Julie Christie) and her
three suitors - wonderfully played by Peter Finch (as the wealthy landowner),
Alan Bates (as the lowly but honest farmer) and Terence Stamp (as the
dashing officer). This is thoroughly enjoyable, classic cinema, packed
full of incident, intelligently directed by Schlesinger, who displays
his ability to get the best out of his actors.
80. The Draughtsman's Contract (1982), directed
by Peter Greenaway
Writer-director Peter Greenaway's clever, mannered film is set on an
English estate in the summer of 1694. A draughtsman (Higgins) is working
on images of the landscape, but gets attacked by those whose love is
property. He is teased and tormented by the excellent Janet Suzman,
while as usual Greenaway constructs his images with clinical precision.
Made by the BFI, the film was a popular and critical success.
81. A Clockwork Orange
(1971), directed by Stanley Kubrick
At the end of the century, Kubrick's notorious film is still unavailable
for screening in the UK at the request of the film-maker himself. But
despite, or perhaps because of, that, it retains an enduring underground
popularity. This adaptation of Anthony Burgess's celebrated novel is
truly harrowing, disturbing cinema. It traces the anti-social antics
of Alex (the excellent Malcolm McDowell) and his gang as they make their
violent way around the city. Eventually captured, he is made 'safe'
- a 'clockwork orange', healthy and whole on the outside, but what of
82. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), directed
by Terence Davies
Filmed in two distinct parts, and with a considerable time between the
two shooting periods, this is a magnificent evocation of working class
life in England during the '40s and '50s. Family members are all damaged
in some way by the irrationally cruel father, while the cheerful lyrics
of popular songs act as a balance to their dour lives. Davies, working
from his own autobiographical script, presents the ordinary lives beautifully
and conjures up memorable imagery. The Long Day Closes was a
83. Darling (1965), directed by John Schlesinger
Julie Christie won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as the
young woman who transforms her life by switching from an ordinary lifestyle
to marrying an Italian noble; in between, there are plenty of love affairs.
Frederick Raphael's script is excellently constructed - trendy, cynical
and very 1960s - and a perfect vehicle for Christie. Raphael and costume
designer Julie Harris also won Oscars for their work on the film.
84. Educating Rita (1983), directed by Lewis
Memorable two-hander based on Willy Russell's play, directed with a
knowing touch by Lewis Gilbert (who collaborated again with Russell
later that decade on Shirley Valentine). Julie Walters, who also played
the role on stage, is the Liverpudlian hairdresser who signs up for
an Open University English course; Michael Caine is her drunken college
tutor. They set about changing each other over the period of the course
- she wanting the education he thinks worthless; he relishing her lust
for life. Beautifully acted and very entertaining.
85. Brassed Off (1996), directed by Mark Herman
It is 1992 and the miners of Grimley Colliery are in trouble. The pit
is under threat of closure and the Colliery band is about to call it
a day. Then Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald) arrives and has a profound impact
on the lives of the band members, the miners and their families. This
is a moving film with a cutting social edge, full of hilarious lines
(scripted by the director, Mark Herman, who later filmed Little Voice).
The sequences of the brass band in the national competition are very
86. Genevieve (1953), directed by Henry Cornelius
The 'Genevieve' of the title is a classic car - a 1904 Darracq - to
be driven by John Gregson and Dinah Sheridan in the London-to-Brighton
motor rally against the smug Kenneth More and the trumpet-playing Kay
Kendall in a 1904 Spyker. Seemingly effortless, perfect comedy, with
the two drivers genially and gloriously slugging it out on the road.
The harmonica music is by the legendary Larry Adler.
87. Women in Love (1969), directed by Ken Russell
The never less than interesting Ken Russell directs this adaptation
of D.H. Lawrence's novel, essentially tracing two love affairs. There
are fine performances all round, but perhaps best remembered is the
nude wrestling scene between Reed and Bates. Glenda Jackson won her
first Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Gudren Brangwen. In Ken
Russell's The Rainbow, a sort of prequel to Women in Love,
made 20 years later, Jackson played the mother of her character in this
88. A Hard Day's Night (1964), directed by Richard
This Beatles vehicle was stunningly successful, mainly because it allowed
the 'fab four' to romp about, largely playing themselves. This is Richard
Lester's idea of a typical day in the life of the Beatles: they head
to London with Paul's grandfather (Wilfrid Bambell) in tow, and get
into all sorts of trouble before eventually just making it to the studio
in time for a television performance. Very amusing, with a great soundtrack
(including Can't Buy Me Love), the film allowed all the Beatles
to stand out as personalities. The following year, Lester directed them
in the even more frantic Help!
89. Fires Were Started (1943), directed by Humphrey
Documentary: An astonishing portrait of the work of firemen during the
London Blitz. Directed and scripted by Humphrey Jennings, it was originally
intended as a training film, but had a general release to help boost
morale. It is an elegant, almost poetic, documentary which proves to
be an intimate portrait of a country besieged. The firemen were all
real firemen, but the scenes were re-enacted.
90. Hope and Glory (1987), directed by John
John Boorman's autobiographical tale (he also scripted and produced
the film) of a young boy's experiences during the early years of World
War II proved a great success with audiences, who appreciated the humour
and emotion as well as the rich detail. Boorman skilfully re-creates
the atmosphere - a mixture of excitement, danger and boredom - of the
London air raids, while always looking at the experiences through a
boy's eyes. Charley Boorman, who starred in The Emerald Forest
for his father, appears here as a German pilot who is shot down.
91. My Name is Joe (1998), directed by Ken Loach
Moving and funny in equal doses, this is a Glasgow-set drama by director
Ken Loach, working from a great script by Paul Laverty. Peter Mullan
gives an award-winning performance as Joe, a reformed alcoholic who
tries to make ends meet by doing a little decorating, while also running
a rag-tag football team. He falls in love with a social worker (Goodall),
but his compassion for his friends leads him into conflict with a local
drug dealer (menacingly portrayed by Hayman).
92. In Which We Serve (1942), directed by Noel
Coward, David Lean
A masterful story of men at war, co-directed by Noel Coward and David
Lean, receiving his first directing credit. Coward, who also wrote and
scored the film, stars as Captain Kinross, leading his men on board
a World War II battleship. The under-stated patriotism is what is most
moving as the story unfolds via flashbacks. The film offered debuts
to Celia Johnson, Richard Attenborough (as an inexperienced stoker),
young Daniel Massey and even an infant Juliet Mills.
93. Caravaggio (1986), directed by Derek Jarman
Writer-director Derek Jarman crafted an imaginary biopic of Italian
painter Caravaggio, who died in 1610, with emphasis on beautiful male
models, court scandals and humorous moments of anachronism. Fabulous
production design by Christopher Hobbs and impressive cinematography
from Gabriel Beristain added immeasurably to a film shot on a very modest
budget. A popular success on release, this retains today a cult appeal.
94. The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954), directed
by Frank Launder
The first and best of the film versions of Ronald Searle's cartoons
about a crazy school for girls. The priceless Alastair Sim plays twin
roles - as the school's headmistress Millicent Fritton and as Clarence
Fritton, her bookmaker brother, who wants to use the school in a scam.
Also on hand are Joyce Grenfell as an undercover policewoman and George
Cole with his memorable portrayal of well-meaning spiv Flash Harry.
Great comedy which spawned several sequels.
95. Life is Sweet (1990), directed by Mike Leigh
Wonderful Mike Leigh comedy, dwelling on a working class couple, Wendy
and Andy (played to perfection by Alison Steadman and Jim Broadbent),
their oddball twin daughters (one of whom, played by Jane Horrocks,
is filled with self-loathing) and their friend (Timothy Spall), a would-be
restaurant owner. The humour is often bitter-sweet, but then, as always,
Mike Leigh's work reflects life in all its darkness and light.
96. The Wicker Man (1973), directed by Robin
A haunting, harrowing chiller scripted by Anthony Shaffer which has
gained cult status over the years. Woodward is the Scots police sergeant
who visits an isolated island to investigate the disappearance of a
local child. He is drawn into local rituals, often eerie and erotic,
eventually discovering an awful pagan rite which involves himself. The
film offered a change of horror style for Christopher Lee after multiple
appearances as Count Dracula.
97. Nil By Mouth (1997), directed by Gary Oldman
Stunning directorial debut by actor Gary Oldman (who also wrote the
script), featuring searingly honest performances from Kathy Burke and
Ray Winstone. An unsparing account of life in the underbelly of London,
where the only escape from depression is to take drink or drugs and
occasional brutal violence. Kathy Burke won the Best Actress award at
the 1997 Cannes Film Festival for her role.
98. Small Faces (1995), directed by Gillies
Written by MacKinnon and his brother Billy, this is a semi-autobiographical
film about three brothers growing up on a Glasgow housing estate in
1968. Well acted by a largely unknown cast, it is full of humour and
pace as it tackles gangs, girlfriends and family troubles along the
way. From an early career in television, MacKinnon progressed to make
a variety of feature films, including Regeneration, based on Pat Barker's
Booker Prize-winning novel. Small Faces is an unsentimental and
thoroughly enjoyable gem.
99. Carry On Up The Khyber (1968), directed
by Gerald Thomas
British India, 1895. The Burpas are revolting and Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond
is trying to prevent the Khasi of Kalabar from inciting a full-scale
rebellion. The Third Foot and Mouth regiment are keeping the British
end up in the Khyber Pass - actually filmed on a mountainside in Wales,
of course. This entry, coming about half way through the series, is
one of the very best Carry Ons, offering more action than usual. The
Peter Rogers productions, based at Pinewood Studios and all directed
by Gerald Thomas, remain a splendidly vulgar British institution, concerned
with saucy puns, over-the-top spoofs and bodily functions. Here, the
regular cast give their usual broad, endearing performances.
100. The Killing Fields
(1984), directed by Roland Joffe
A moving directorial debut for Roland Joffe, with a terrific script
by Bruce Robinson, based on the memoirs of a New York Times reporter
who remained in Cambodia after the American evacuation, thereby putting
his local assistant and translator Dith Pran in grave danger. There
is a wonderful performance by Ngor (who had lived through the situation
in real life) as Pran, as the second half of the film traces his experiences
in Cambodia. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in
this Lord (David) Puttnam production; Oscars also went to cinematographer
Chris Menges and editor Jim Clark.