The 100 best British films

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Time Out counts down the best British films, as chosen by the film industry

By Dave Calhoun, Tom Huddleston and David Jenkins, with Derek Adams, Geoff Andrew, Adam Lee Davies, Gareth Evans, Paul Fairclough and Wally Hammond. Explore the individual top tens of every contributor.

8

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Dir Robert Hamer (Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood)

Taking an axe to the family tree

The Ealing comedies undoubtedly remain a bastion of British whimsicality, but the results of this poll suggest they have fallen out of favour. Does the fanciful madcap of ‘The Lavender Hill Mob’ now just feel empty? Has ‘Passport to Pimlico’ lost its political piquancy? And is there too much running around in that otherwise barbed consumerist satire, ‘The Man in the White Suit’? Still, you could judge that our contributors were merely hedging their bets by voting for Ealing’s finest: ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’.

There’s something satisfying about the fact that one of the most charming, literary and romantic films on this list involves a penniless fop going on a murderous rampage against his aristocratic in-laws. Dennis Price is Louis Mazzini D'Ascoyne, bon mot-dropping avenging angel and class warrior by default, out to take down the remaining D'Ascoyne clan (all played by Alec Guinness) as punishment for excommunicating his dear, dead mother.

The beauty of this film is how easy it is to divorce yourself from its horrors and side with this gentleman psychopath on his quest. Guinness’s broad (though hilarious) caricatures make the pill even easier to swallow, as they show us that Louis’s crimes are little more than a savage attack on the hypocrisy, entitlement and haughtiness of English blue bloods. DJ

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