10 Best British Movies
The 10 best British movies include old and new classics. While any list that includes the term "best" is more than a bit subjective, there are a few movies that simply stand head and shoulders above any other movies made. The British were some of the first folks turning on the film camera and a host of UK directors are well-known in the U.S. for classic films.
- "Lawrence of Arabia": David Lean's 1962 classic regularly makes the ten best British movie list. The sets, acting and script all are classics. The action follows the life of the real war figure Thomas Edward Lawrence played by the amazing Peter O'Toole. Co-stars include Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Jose Ferrer, Claude Raines and Arthur Kennedy. With a cast like that and a director of Lean's quality, what could be finer?
- "The 39 Steps": Alfred Hitchcock made this movie in 1949, a few years after the close of World War II. It was an era of espionage and spies and Hitchcock's tale, set in the 1930s, follows the main character Richard Hannay who hooks up with a woman escaping from spies.
- "The Bridge on the River": Kwai David Lean was a remarkable director and The Bridge on the River Kwai, released in 1957, is a war film detailing with a plot to destroy the enemy's major war supply line. If you can whistle, you'll love the theme song.
- "Brazil": Terry Gilliam directs this unsettling film released in 1985. Gillam's masterpiece routinely makes the top ten lists of all films. The setting is a world where all individuals are closely monitored and life is totally structured. Conformity is the only option and the script highlights what happens when one person decides to act out feelings of discontent. The amazing sets make the action more than believable -- and frightening.
- "A Clockwork Orange": Director Stanley Kubrick's strange tale made in 1971 explores the counterculture of the late 1960s using a movie set that shows the future. The Droogs, a word for friend, are thugs that enjoy violence. The nightly wilding ends when the main character undergoes experimental behavior modification that goes bad. An odd tale with a message that still resonates today.
- "The Third Man": Director Carol Reed takes a script by Graham Greene and turns it into one of the ten best British movies. The plot follows the main character, a mystery writer, who traces clues in the suspicious death of a friend. The tightly-woven plot keeps viewers following the trail.
- "The Killing Fields": The film is a tale about a newspaper reporter who takes off from his office in New York to hunt down a friend taken by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The Killing Fields has a message and the well-researched script turned into film by U.K. director Roland Joffe in 1984.
- "Stairway to Heaven, also known as A Matter of Life and Death": This 1946 film, directed by Michael Powell, is the basis of several remakes including an American classic by the same name starring Warren Beatty as a football player taken by an angel before his time of death. This original features David Niven as a British pilot taken to heaven to save him the pain of a crash landing. When Niven's character arrives in heaven, he discovers he didn't die and he demands his body back. That's the rub. His body is not available, so he must select another.
- "Shakespeare in Love": This 1999 movie is a fictional tale about what Will Shakespeare might have done in London. It features knock-out performances by Judi Dench, as Queen Elizabeth, natch; Geoffrey Rush; Joseph Fiennes; and Simon Callow.
- "Trainspotting": This story about a group of thugs who enjoy drugs and fighting is one of the top ten best British movies. The trial to withdraw from heroine is a major story line. Ewan McGregor and Sean Connery move the film from outstanding to one of the ten best British movies.