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Mike T
07-07-2011, 08:12 AM
Well, now that we have a British film scholar amongst us ("key under the mat", haha) I just thought I'd throw it out there a request for recommendations of classic British cinema, circa maybe fifties through early seventies?

I've been trawling through Amazon UK and exploring what's available in the UK and, obviously, I should be looking at films from Ealing Studios but there also is quite a range available from Sony under the "Classic British" banner as well as a selection of important titles from those eras available through Optimum (early Ken Loach and so on). Thus, any suggestions of good places to start?

Here is a list of films "for your consideration"...

Age of Consent (1969, Michael Powell)
Alfie (1968, Lewis Gilbert)
Billy Liar (1963, John Schlesinger)
Bunny Lake is Missing (1965, Otto Preminger)
A Dandy in Aspic (1968, Anthony Mann)
Darling (1965, John Schlesinger)
Dr. Crippen (1964, Robert Lynn)
Footsteps in the Fog (1955, Arthur Lubin)
The Innocents (1961, Jack Clayton)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949, Robert Hamer)
A Kind of Loving (1962, John Schlesinger)
The Ladykillers (1955, Alexander Mackendrick)
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951, Charles Crichton)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962, Tony Richardson)
The Looking Glass War (1969, Frank Pierson)
The Man in the White Suit (1951, Alexander Mackendrick)
Poor Cow (1967, Ken Loach)
Room at the Top (1959, Jack Clayton)
Sparrows Can't Sing (1964, Joan Littlewood)
Take a Girl Like You (1970, Jonathan Miller)
A Taste of Honey (1961, Tony Richardson)
To Sir, With Love (1967, James Clavell)
The Wrong Box (1966, Bryan Forbes)
Zee and Co. (1972, Brian Hutton)
Zulu (1964, Cy Enfield)

I know the list is sadly lacking in any representation of Linsey Dawn McKenzie, but what's a guy to do? ;)

Paul L
07-07-2011, 05:37 PM
I'm a big fan of Basil Dearden, Mike, and Criterion released a very nice boxset of Dearden films under their Eclipse banner. The set included THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN, SAPPHIRE, VICTIM and ALL NIGHT LONG. However, it's worth noting that both VICTIM and THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN have had better (ie, extras-laden) releases in the UK from Network.

I'd suggest that HELL DRIVERS needs to be on your list, as does A PRIZE OF ARMS. Whilst we're talking about Stanley Baker, I'd also add Val Guest's HELL IS A CITY and Joseph Losey's THE CRIMINAL to the list - both are very good films. Basil Dearden's VIOLENT PLAYGROUND is also worth a (re)visit.

On the subject of British crime films, I've revisited THE LONG MEMORY recently, thanks to a recent screening on FilmFour, and that's a very good, noirish picture.

SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING and THIS SPORTING LIFE would be worth adding to your list under the 'social realism'/British New Wave banner. I think both of those movies are preferable to ROOM AT THE TOP, although ROOM AT THE TOP paved the way for them to follow. (LONG DISTANCE RUNNER is my favourite British New Wave film, I have to say, followed closely by A KIND OF LOVING.) I also think Tony Richardson's THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE is one of his best films, and it's one of my favourite British films of the 1960s.

On a similar note, I guess that talking about the 'classics' of this era, you can't exclude the war pictures. THE CRUEL SEA and ICE COLD IN ALEX have both had nice Blu-Ray releases from Optimum recently.

Have you been following the BFI Flipside releases? The BFI have provided some very good releases of forgotten gems under that label. Guy Hamilton's THE PARTY'S OVER is worth checking out, as is THE PLEASURE GIRLS. Both of those 'Swinging London' films offer a different representation of Sixties Britain to the 'it's grim up north' films of the British New Wave. They've also released Peter Watkins' PRIVILEGE. DEEP END is the big release due out from the BFI this month, but I've got my eye on REQUIEM FOR A VILLAGE - I haven't seen the latter, as it's been quite a hard film to get hold of, but from what I've read it sounds very interesting. I'd also like to recommend Dick Clement's sadly neglected OTLEY, although I don't think it's had a DVD release as yet.

In terms of Ms Mackenzie's output, you can't beat MAXIMUM INSERTION. But that's from 2004 rather than the Sixties :biggrin:

Ian Jane
07-07-2011, 05:48 PM
I have most of the Flipside Blu-rays, and they're excellent. Even when I have no idea what the movie is about (a lot of what they put out is pretty obscure in the UK, let alone outside of it) I always look forward to their stuff. I just got the Requiem For a Village disc and hope to get to it soon. If Gladwell's Anderson connection means anything, it should be an interesting watch.

Mike T
07-08-2011, 12:16 AM
Whilst we're talking about Stanley Baker...

...I should add that I'm currently working on a review of Val Guest's Yesterday's Enemy for the blog. ;)

Thank you HUGELY for the additions Paul! That gives me a LOT to work through, on top on the original suggestion list, but I am sure I will be a better man for it all in the long run. I don't usually have so little to say on such broad subjects...but the brain's a bit sluggish this morning. I shall return, soon!

Mike T
07-08-2011, 09:43 AM
SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING and THIS SPORTING LIFE would be worth adding to your list under the 'social realism'/British New Wave banner. I think both of those movies are preferable to ROOM AT THE TOP, although ROOM AT THE TOP paved the way for them to follow. (LONG DISTANCE RUNNER is my favourite British New Wave film, I have to say, followed closely by A KIND OF LOVING.)

Social realism and/or social commentary are one of my favourite aspects of British cinema (in turn, former British colony Hong Kong is similarly impressive at investing a believable level of social realism in their cinema). The offspring of millionaires cruising around Malibu in their high-end sports cars just doesn't cut for me, as it's a world almost as alien as any science fiction film ever produced -- but hey, American mainstream cinema is great at promoting the "American dream" and the fantasy worlds that revolve around that ideal.

Even when one looks at more commercial fare from the seventies, such as the Confessions films or any of the latter day Carry Ons there is a connection formed from the portrayal of simple working-to-middle class folk going about their average, perhaps even jubilant, day-to-day lives. The Timmy Lea films, with their odd-jobs men and couple living in a bedsit with their parents, feels a lot more earthy and tangible than many of its peers whereas the output of Messrs. Thomas and Rogers always seemed to exclusively dabble in the lifestyles of normal working class folk. Look at Carry On at Your Convenience, for example: I can't think of a more raucous and irreverant jab at the trade union movements anywhere else that gets its message across so succinctly and engages you with hearty laughter in the process. Britain just had a knack for "telling it like it is" and making those stories accessible to all walks of life.

You've given me some great titles to explore, and I'm sure the social realism/new wave films will be first off the rank. Looks like I'm going to have to wait for Optimum to re-issue Hell is a City though, as the previous edition is now OOP (and current circumstances make the importation of premium US editions out of reach). Lucky for me, though, the 2-disc edition of Hell Drivers is still available. It's just a pity Network/Granada insist on dropping subtitles from their releases once they take them over from Carlton (who did provide SDH subs). Otherwise, it seems my initial list was (on the whole) a bunch of fine picks and that, coupled with the extra recommendations, should keep me going throughout the rest of the year.

Paul L
07-09-2011, 06:54 PM
I have most of the Flipside Blu-rays, and they're excellent. Even when I have no idea what the movie is about (a lot of what they put out is pretty obscure in the UK, let alone outside of it) I always look forward to their stuff. I just got the Requiem For a Village disc and hope to get to it soon. If Gladwell's Anderson connection means anything, it should be an interesting watch.
Definitely. I'm really looking forward to watching REQUIEM FOR A VILLAGE. It's an intriguing-sounding film. The Flipside discs also contain some great added material, even on some of the weaker features (eg, the fairly bland THAT KIND OF GIRL had some amazing short features about the peace marches, not to mention the short film, 'The People at No. 19', about the transmission of VD).

Paul L
07-09-2011, 07:07 PM
Even when one looks at more commercial fare from the seventies, such as the Confessions films or any of the latter day Carry Ons there is a connection formed from the portrayal of simple working-to-middle class folk going about their average, perhaps even jubilant, day-to-day lives. The Timmy Lea films, with their odd-jobs men and couple living in a bedsit with their parents, feels a lot more earthy and tangible than many of its peers whereas the output of Messrs. Thomas and Rogers always seemed to exclusively dabble in the lifestyles of normal working class folk. Look at Carry On at Your Convenience, for example: I can't think of a more raucous and irreverant jab at the trade union movements anywhere else that gets its message across so succinctly and engages you with hearty laughter in the process. Britain just had a knack for "telling it like it is" and making those stories accessible to all walks of life.
Yes, the CARRY ON films and, later, the CONFESSIONS OF... films, et al, all have an earthy focus on working class life, as do most of our sitcoms. This was probably driven by other cultural factors (ie, the perception of going to the pictures as a working class pastime). I guess it was only in the 1980s, with the growth of the heritage film, that British cinema turned away from representations of the lives of the working classes; but even then, there were some exceptions, including many of the films produced by Channel 4 (MY NAME IS JOE, MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE, etc).

You've given me some great titles to explore, and I'm sure the social realism/new wave films will be first off the rank. Looks like I'm going to have to wait for Optimum to re-issue Hell is a City though, as the previous edition is now OOP (and current circumstances make the importation of premium US editions out of reach). Lucky for me, though, the 2-disc edition of Hell Drivers is still available. It's just a pity Network/Granada insist on dropping subtitles from their releases once they take them over from Carlton (who did provide SDH subs). Otherwise, it seems my initial list was (on the whole) a bunch of fine picks and that, coupled with the extra recommendations, should keep me going throughout the rest of the year.
HELL IS A CITY is a great film, imo, offering a snapshot of Manchester in the late 1950s - at the time when the social realism films were starting to appear, challenging the London-centric nature of most British films.

Some of those films still need DVD releases. For example, sadly, as far as I know, VIOLENT PLAYGROUND is still AWOL from the DVD format.

Ian Jane
07-27-2011, 01:11 PM
Well I wound up getting to Deep End before getting to Requiem For A Village - full review tomorrow. I'd actually seen it before via a shitty bootleg, horrible quality. The BFI disc is excellent - gorgeous colors, very strong transfer, and some great extras too. The movie is a trip, loads of style but substance to match, a foxy and nude Jane Asher, great performances all around and a very twisted finish.

http://www.rockshockpop.com/screencaps/DeepEnd/13-02.jpg

Clive Smith
07-28-2011, 05:08 AM
I picked up DEEP END yesterday. Managed to snag the 3 disc version which is apparently already OOP, so was especially chuffed. Yeah, it looks amazing - beautiful image quality and detail. Peeped the extras briefly too - John Moulder Brown seems quite odd...

Ian Jane
07-28-2011, 09:37 AM
He does come across as a bit of an eccentric in that documentary.

Mike T
08-25-2011, 11:38 AM
Did I mention that I love British cinema? Perhaps moreso now than any other period in my life? This looks great...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHTUEHE3kA8

Jack O'Connell is a great young British actor... ;)

Ian Jane
09-28-2011, 11:31 AM
While I don't know that it's a classic, Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs is a pretty interesting movie that offers some insight into the British political scene of the mid seventies. I'm working on a proper review of the BFI Blu-ray for later this week and will go into more detail then but anyone who digs John Hurt or David Warner will definitely enjoy this as they're both excellent in their leading roles, particularly Hurt who plays a pseudo-lunatic very well here (and completely looks the part too!).

Mike T
10-08-2011, 09:12 AM
So, having belatedly gotten into the BFI Flipside films all the ones I decided I wanted to see suddenly up and disappeared! But it turns out that I needn't have worried, as BFI just withdrew a lot of the earlier discs from circulation and are now re-issuing them later this month as BD/DVD combos. Yay for me!

Ian Jane
01-05-2012, 10:47 AM
Maybe not a classic in the traditional sense, but the BFI are releasing Norman J. Warren's Her Private Hell in Feb. I posted the details here (http://www.rockshockpop.com/forums/content.php?2116-The-BFI-To-Release-Norman-J.-Warren-s-Her-Private-Hell-On-DVD-Blu-ray-2-20-2012).

This looks AWESOME.