The 100 best British films: producers
Explore the top ten British films of all our guest contributors
Linked title denotes top 100 placing
Don Boyd, director and producer (‘Aria’)
In no particular order:
- War Requiem (Jarman, 1989)
- Hamlet (Olivier, 1948)
- Scum (Clarke, 1979)
- Eureka (Roeg, 1984)
- This Sporting Life (Anderson, 1963)
- If… (Anderson, 1968)
- The Red Shoes (Powell and Pressburger, 1948)
- The Devils (Russell, 1971)
- The Lavender Hill Mob (Crichton, 1951)
- Bill Douglas Trilogy (Douglas, 1972, 1973, 1978)
Andrew Eaton, producer (‘9 Songs’)
- 1. O Lucky Man! (Anderson, 1973)
- 2. Comfort and Joy (Forsyth, 1984)
- 3. A Matter of Life and Death (Powell and Pressburger, 1946)
- 4. A Hard Day’s Night (Lester, 1964)
- 5. Kes (Loach, 1969)
- 6. Chariots of Fire (Hudson, 1981)
- 7. The Long Good Friday (Mackenzie, 1980)
- 8. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Jones, 1979)
- 9. Distant Voices, Still Lives (Davies, 1988)
- 10. The Third Man (Reed, 1949)
Keith Griffiths, producer, (‘Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives’)
Rather embarrassingly I have chosen two films I have produced. If this is not allowed or considered too ‘whatever’, you can replace them with two long stops, of many.
In no particular order:
- Piccadilly (Dupont, 1929)
- Trade Tattoo (Lye, 1937)
- Fires Were Started (Jennings, 1943)
- Black Narcissus (Powell and Pressburger, 1947)
- Mare’s Tale (Larcher, 1969)
- Berlin Horse (Grice, 1970)
- Get Carter (Hodges, 1971)
- Edvard Munch (Watkins, 1974)
- Street of Crocodiles (Brothers Quay, 1986)
- London (Keiller, 1994)
Four in the Morning (Simmons, 1965)
The Moon and the Sledgehammer (Trevelyan, 1971)
A Walk Through H (Greenaway, 1978)
And many many more… I must have been asleep since 1994!
Elizabeth Karlsen, producer (‘Made In Dagenham’)
The task of choosing a top ten film list feels more akin to some form of amputation – just as conspicuous by what has been taken off than by what has been left on. To get to the dreaded number ten I applied a basic rule of including films that completely stunned and mesmerised me when I first saw them and have stood up to repeated viewings. This is a very personal list. I would have preferred to make it 100 titles long and if you ask me next week for my top ten it may well be different and would hopefully include some comedies!
Simply brilliant on every level and can be watched on a loop.
4. The Company of Wolves (Jordan, 1984)
A film I wandered off the street, as a student visiting from New York with a few hours to kill, to watch. I knew nothing about it and was enthralled by the incredible originality of what I saw.
6. Brief Encounter (Lean, 1945)
7. Kes (Loach, 1969)
I watched and wept at as a child and have watched and wept at on a yearly basis with my own three children for the past 14 years.
9. Red Road (Arnold, 2006)
Kevin Loader, producer (‘Enduring Love’)
To avoid the knotty problem of what constitutes a British film, as opposed to a film directed by a Brit, I have used an additional filter – films shot in Britain. About these there can be no dispute – in many cases they are celebrations of the British landscape, rural, urban and political.
1. Gone to Earth (Powell and Pressburger, 1950)
Not Powell’s most audacious film, but possibly the best film about the British countryside, shot on location in a ravishing Shropshire landscape.
The ultimate slacker comedy and painfully more.
For me the best of the Pinter/Losey collaborations.
Which trilogy to pick? Terence Davies's possibly better known, so time to rediscover the poetic purity of these – and the important use of sound.
Surely the best ghost story ever, adapted from Henry James.
6. Persuasion (Michell, 1995)
So beautifully performed, and the best cinematic adaptation of a British classic novel, including Lean’s.
Michael Winterbottom's films can seem a little unfinished, but that works for this truthful portrait of the London we all live in. And Gina McKee!
8. Winstanley (Brownlow and Mollo, 1975)
Why haven't British filmmakers mined the Cromwellian debate more? This is austere, authentic, visually memorable.
There has to be one, and who can forget Peggy Ashcroft?
10. In the Loop (Iannucci, 2009)
Naughty to have one I was involved with, I know, but its genius was entirely the work of others.
Lynda Myles, writer and producer
- 1. I Know Where I’m Going! (Powell and Pressburger, 1945)
- 2.The Third Man (Reed, 1949)
- 3.Black Narcissus (Powell and Pressburger, 1947)
- 4.Bad Timing (Roeg, 1980)
- 5.Radio On (Petit, 1980) (For many reasons – but particularly because It represents a direction I wish British cinema had followed.)
- 6. The Hit (Frears, 1984)
- 7. Peeping Tom (Powell, 1960)
- 8. My Childhood (Douglas, 1972)
- 9. Hunger (McQueen, 2008)
- 10. Witchfinder General (Reeves, 1968)
I regret there is no room for ‘Night Of The Demon’ (Jacques Tourneur, 1957) or ‘Borderline’ (Kenneth Macpherson, 1928).
Kate Ogborn, producer (‘The Deep Blue Sea' and 'Under the Skin’)
- 1. Black Narcissus (Powell and Pressburger, 1947)
- 2. Under the Skin (Aldre, 1997)
- 3. Nil by Mouth (Oldman, 1997)
- 4. Brief Encounter (Lean, 1945)
- 5. Don’t Look Now (Roeg, 1973)
- 6. Last Resort (Pawlikowski, 2000)
- 7. A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)
- 8. I Know Where I’m Going! (Powell and Pressburger, 1945)
- 9. Distant Voice, Still Lives (Davies, 1988)
- 10. Trainspotting (Boyle, 1996)
Rebecca O’Brien, producer (‘Sweet Sixteen’)
Here’s my list but do I really have to put them in order? I find that really impossible...
Quadrophenia (Roddam, 1979)
I love The Who, and Phil Daniels (who I share a birthday with) and the sadness of the era.
The Falls (Greenaway, 1980)
Peter Greenaway’s first feature – a mockumentary exploring the Violent Unknown Event through interviews with 92 people whose names began with the letters FALL... Utterly elaborate, totally daft and quintessentially British.
My Beautiful Laundrette (Frears, 1985)
Decades ahead of its time.
The Belles of St Trinians (Lauder, 1954)
My favourite movie as a kid and now I’m grown up I identify with Joyce Grenfell.
Sweet Sixteen (Loach, 2002)
The teenage cast break my heart.
The best Bond by far.
My brothers went to a school just like this one – high Scottish realism
Unbelievable beauty – I have no idea how Sally and her team achieved this amazing piece of work.
Sean O’Connor, producer (‘The Deep Blue Sea’)
I’ve chosen a number one – but the rest are not in order.
- 1. Brief Encounter (Lean, 1945)
- Black Narcissus (Powell and Pressburger, 1947)
- It Always Rains on Sunday (Hamer, 1947)
- Ryan’s Daughter (Lean, 1970)
- I Know Where I’m Going! (Powell and Pressburger, 1945)
- Distant Voices, Still Lives (Davies, 1988)
- Don’t Look Now (Roeg, 1973)
- A Private Function (Mowbray, 1984)
- My Summer of Love (Pawlikowski, 2004)
- Murder on the Orient Express (Lumet, 1974)
Lisa Marie Russo, producer (‘Self Made’)
Terence Davies makes the personal universal like no other director.
2. Another Year (Leigh, 2010)
Mike Leigh at the top of his game. Celebrates the possibility of a happy marriage and ageing with grace and humour.
3. Cathy Come Home (Loach, 1966)
It shows that homelessness can befall anyone, and still as relevant today as when it was made in the 1960s.
4. To Sir, With Love (Clavell, 1967)
I first saw this on American TV as a young child. I wanted to be Lulu, ride on double decker buses, and live in swinging London. When I grew up, that is exactly what I did!
5. The Full Monty (Catteneo, 1967)
Ordinary men overcome their lack of self-esteem brought on by unemployment with humour and creativity.
Very real, very scary.
Paul Anderson Williams proves that great talent can make great films, with or without money.
8. Letter to Brezhnev (Bernard, 1985)
Communist Russia is more attractive to a working-class British girl than Thatcher’s Britain in the ’80s. Great social commentary and a love story to boot.
9. The Last of England (Jarman, 1987)
Highly original and inspiring filmmaking by a true visionary.
10. Billy Elliot (Daldry, 2000)
Follow your dreams! Eventually your family will get onboard too!
Jeremy Thomas, producer (‘The Last Emperor’)
- 1. Accident (Losey, 1967)
- 2. The Innocents (Clayton, 1961)
- 3. Far from the Madding Crowd (Schlesinger, 1967)
- 4. Carry On at Your Convenience (Thomas, 1971)
- 5. Above Us the Waves (Thomas, 1955)
- 6. Bad Timing (Roeg, 1980)
- 7. In This World (Winterbottom, 2002)
- 8. Passport to Pimlico (Cornelius, 1949)
- 9. Oliver! (Reed, 1968)
- 10. Trainspotting (Boyle, 1996)
Stephen Woolley, producer (‘The Crying Game’)
Have to have a Powell and Pressburger so must be ‘The Red Shoes’ (but could also be ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ (1946) ‘Black Narcissus’ (1947) or ‘Peeping Tom’ (Powell, 1960).
Graham Greene’s novels so enriched the twentieth-century British cultural experience and the movies were great but none more so than his original screenplay for ‘The Third Man’(could have been ‘Brighton Rock’ (Boulting, 1947) or my own ‘The End of the Affair’ (Jordan, 1999).
To choose a British Hitch is really hard but his John Buchan adaptation stands out so ‘The 39 Steps’ gets the vote over ‘The Ring’ (1927), ‘Murder!’ (1930), ‘Blackmail’ (1929) and ‘The Lady Vanishes’ (1938) – but only just!
One of the most important filmmakers working in Britain was blacklisted Yank Joe Losey. ‘The Servant’ is the best example of his, and Pinter’s, cold but savagely humorous take on the British class system. (Could have been ‘Sleeping Tiger’ (1954) or ‘Accident’ (1967).)
British gothic: I love nearly all the early T Fisher Hammers but torn between ‘Dead of Night’ (Cavalcanti, Crichton, Dearden and Hamer, 1945) and ‘The Innocents’. In the end I’m going for ‘The Innocents’ (which must have influenced so many horrors, including ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’).
Ealing, so hard… Alec Guiness and Ealing equals sublime movies. Will go with ‘The Ladykillers’ (but ‘Man in the White Suit’, ‘Lavender Hill Mob’, ‘Kind Hearts…’ all great).
7. Dr Strangelove, Or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick, 1964)
Another Yank in exile, Kubrick gave us his take on British society and its class – but because of the superb Peter Sellers performanceI have to go with this.
Ken Loach has made the most ironically daring movies about the struggle against Britain’s oppressive society. For sheer passion and unflinching emotion ‘Kes’ is my choice (although I also love a film he reportedly hated, ‘Poor Cow’).
David Lean cast a long shadow over Brit cinema and many will remember him for ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, but my choice is the flawed but inspiring ‘Great Expectations’.
I love ‘Performance’, although I almost went for ‘Repulsion’ (Polanski) as a movie that is so about London in a strange time and in a strange place.