Someone asked me what my favorite "British movies" were. That's kind of an odd duck question, and one I never thought of before. EIther way, it really got me thinking and overwhelemd me a bit. There was so much I wanted to say. How do you count what movies are "British"? I guess if something was made in Hollywood it is not British (so that will exclude, for example, a lot of Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin). British Films I guess then would include movies like Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lydon
or Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
What about Irish films? I guess they should be included.
Another rule I put on myself was to not overload things with one genre or creative group of people. For example A Fish Called Wanda, Life of Brian, Holy Grail, and Brazil
are all top candidates, I would only want to mention one or two at most. Also I wanted to limit "great adaptations of English literary classics". I don't think we need a list taken over by the best Shakespeare, Dickens, Austin etc. That's probably another category unto itself. A movie like Barry Lydon
can get on because it's definitely a work of film first and foremost.
I can say I think the most overrated Brit Film is Gandhi
were better movies, and this by the book kind of biopic won. I love epics, and I have nothing against biopics..I just think there is a lot of landmines (too much temptation for hagiography, or "deconstruction", or the author's own ideas) surrounding the genre of biopics and it often always falls flat. A counter point in British movies would beLawrence of Arabia
, and while I think that is slightly
overrated it is still an all time great film, just not "best ever". This just goes to show that these aren't Iron Clad rules or anything, just tendencies.
Which brings up an odd trivia fact, British movies that won Oscars tend to be overrated (not bad, just overrated): Shakespeare in Love, Chariots of Fire
, Lawrence Olivier's Hamlet
, The English Patient
(which is a bad movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5qalNX5G94
) are not the best of British film and not among the best Oscar winners.
Anyway here's my list in no particular order:
1. The Red Shoes
. I only allowed myself to mention one Archer's movie. I could very easily have mentioned 4 or more films. Black Narcissus
would be a close second. Both of these my be my personal favorite Brit Films of All Time, and a couple more are not far behind.
2. The Bridge Over the River Kwai
. Is it better than Lawrence of Arabia? Maybe not, but I think it's a bit more watchable. Maybe I should've picked A Brief Encounter
, but Bridge
is more epic in scope and edges out Zhivago
- plus Zhivago
is about Ruskies and not Brits.
3. Barry Lydon
. The lighting still dazzles me. Clockwork Orange
is great and a classic, and ought be watched by film lovers, but I think it's slightl overrated.
4. The Quiet Man
. Read the short story if you liked this movie.
5. The 39 Steps
. Hitchcock has to be on this list. This is his best none Hollywood work.
6. A Fish Called Wanda
. THis is almost interchangeble with Holy Grail, and Life of Brian...but I think it edges them out.
. Different enough from the other Monty Python stuff to include on here.
8. The Ladykillers
9. Dr. No.
I guess this is interchangeable with Thunderball, Goldfinger,
or even Skyfall
. I guess it just depends how you feel that day. This was the first though, and Ursula Andress is the most memorable Bond Girl.
11. The Madness of King George
. There are probably 50 better British films, I just wanted to throw an off the cuff movie that I happen to like. It was between this or the Ipcrese FIles
12. The Crying Game
. It was between this or My Left Foot
for a modern Irish representative. It's been awhile since I saw any of them.
13. Kind Hearts and Coronets
14. 1946 Great Expectations
. Probably the best movie adaptation of an English Classic. I think, as I said, because "British Classics" are a genre in themselves this is a different enough David Lean movie to include on the list. At least according to my ad hoc rules and logic.
15. The Italian Job
. I think I have man crush's on Michael Caine and Alec Guiness
16. A Hard Days Night
. I only wanted to mention 15, and this shouldn't be on the list but I love the Beatles too much not to include it. Regardless, it's a great film in it's own right.
Those were my initial thoughts. That could all change if I continue obsessing over this question. I don't know why unimportant questions like this get to me. Maybe because I'm cooped up in my house for the next three days and idle minds...