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Article:

Film-makers present Britain's top 100

by Dalya Alberge, arts correspondent 

The Times (London), 23 September 1999

The Third Man, Brief Encounter and Lawrence of Arabia were named yesterday as the favourite British films of hundreds of film-makers. Trainspotting was the only film from the 1990s to make it into the top ten of the 100 chosen and, although a Carry On is included, classics such as The Great Escape or anything by Charlie Chaplin are among the most glaring omissions. 

In the survey, conducted by the British Film Institute and believed to be the first focusing on the industry, the directors Mike Leigh and Anthony Minghella and producer Tim Bevan were among more than 400 to submit their favourite 100 films. Some voted cheekily for their own works, but the BFI would not reveal their names; others said that such polls were inappropriate. 

The BFI wanted to reflect on a full century of British film-making and writers, actors, technicians and academics participated: more than 25,700 votes were cast covering 820 films. David Lean directed six of the 100, Julie Christie appeared in six, Michael Caine in seven and Sir Alec Guinness in nine (three in the top ten). Several were adaptations of literary classics but most are from original scripts. The list includes three from the Thirties, 16 from the Forties, ten from the Fifties, and Seventies, 26 from the Sixties, 18 from the Eighties and 17 from the Nineties. 

Public opinion polls have tended to favour more recent offerings, but the industry focused on the older ones: the 1949 Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets is sixth on the BFI survey but did not get a mention in Sky Premier's Millennium poll published in July. Jon Teckman, BFI deputy director, said that inclusion was dictated by whether the film was quintessentially British. As so many British films had American finance, the BFI considered whether they reflected British consciousness or culture. "There was no points system. It was more subjective ... Whether it was telling a British story, reflected British morals and attitudes." 

Dr Zhivago was there because David Lean was one of the greatest British directors, he said. Although Elizabeth was directed by an Indian, Shekhar Kapur, its producers, Working Title, are British and it is "culturally British and it was also filmed here pretty much 100 per cent". Stanley Kubrick makes the list with A Clockwork Orange because he was "domiciled over here". 

Although Hitchcock was born in Britain, the BFI limited his inclusion to the films that he made in this country: The Lady Vanishes, for example. British-born Chaplin was excluded because he made all his films in America, Mr Teckman said. 

Polling was conducted before Notting Hill, which might have made it, was released. Oscar successes - Chariots of Fire, Gandhi and The English Patient - are generally acknowledged. So are box-office hits such as A Fish Called Wanda

Mike Leigh said that being singled out was "wonderful." He added, however, that while The Third Man is a great British classic, "whether it is the greatest is a matter for debate. This proves we make movies, and rather good movies." 

  1. The Third Man (1949)
  2. Brief Encounter (1945)
  3. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 
  4. The 39 Steps (1935) 
  5. Great Expectations (1946) 
  6. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) 
  7. Kes (1969) 
  8. Don't Look Now (1973) 
  9. The Red Shoes (1948) 
  10. Trainspotting (1996) 
  11. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) 
  12. If ... (1968) 
  13. The Ladykillers (1955) 
  14. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) 
  15. Brighton Rock (1947) 
  16. Get Carter (1971) 
  17. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) 
  18. Henry V (1944) 
  19. Chariots of Fire (1981) 
  20. A Matter of Life and Death (1946) 
  21. The Long Good Friday (1980) 
  22. The Servant (1963) 
  23. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) 
  24. Whisky Galore! (1949) 
  25. The Full Monty (1997) 
  26. The Crying Game (1992) 
  27. Dr Zhivago (1965) 
  28. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) 
  29. Withnail and I (1987) 
  30. Gregory's Girl (1980) 
  31. Zulu (1964) 
  32. Room at the Top (1958) 
  33. Alfie (1966) 
  34. Gandhi (1982) 
  35. The Lady Vanishes (1938) 
  36. The Italian Job (1969) 
  37. Local Hero (1983) 
  38. The Commitments (1991) 
  39. A Fish Called Wanda (1988) 
  40. Secrets & Lies (1995) 
  41. Dr No (1962) 
  42. The Madness of King George (1994) 
  43. A Man for All Seasons (1966) 
  44. Black Narcissus (1947) 
  45. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) 
  46. Oliver Twist (1948) 
  47. I'm All Right Jack (1959) 
  48. Performance (1970) 
  49. Shakespeare in Love (1998) 
  50. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) 
  51. Tom Jones (1963) 
  52. This Sporting Life (1957) 
  53. My Left Foot (1989) 
  54. Brazil (1985) 
  55. The English Patient (1996) 
  56. A Taste of Honey (1961) 
  57. The Go-Between (1970) 
  58. The Man in the White Suit (1951) 
  59. The Ipcress File (1965) 
  60. Blow Up (1966) 
  61. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) 
  62. Sense and Sensibility (1995) 
  63. Passport to Pimlico (1949) 
  64. The Remains of the Day (1993) 
  65. Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) 
  66. The Railway Children (1970) 
  67. Mona Lisa (1986) 
  68. The Dam Busters (1955) 
  69. Hamlet (1948) 
  70. Goldfinger (1964) 
  71. Elizabeth (1998) 
  72. Goodbye Mr Chips (1939) 
  73. Room with a View (1985) 
  74. The Day of the Jackal (1973) 
  75. The Cruel Sea (1952) 
  76. Billy Liar (1963) 
  77. Oliver! (1968) 
  78. Peeping Tom (1960) 
  79. Far From the Madding Crowd (1967) 
  80. The Draughtsman's Contract (1982) 
  81. A Clockwork Orange (1971) 
  82. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) 
  83. Darling (1965) 
  84. Educating Rita (1983) 
  85. Brassed Off (1996) 
  86. Genevieve (1953) 
  87. Women in Love (1969) 
  88. A Hard Day's Night (1964) 
  89. Fires Were Started (1943) 
  90. Hope and Glory (1987) 
  91. My Name is Joe (1998) 
  92. In Which We Serve (1942) 
  93. Caravaggio (1986) 
  94. The Belles of St Trinian's (1954) 
  95. Life is Sweet (1990) 
  96. The Wicker Man (1973) 
  97. Nil By Mouth (1997) 
  98. Small Faces (1995) 
  99. Carry On Up The Khyber (1968) 
  100. The Killing Fields (1984) 

© 1999 The Times (London)

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