The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

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Unavailable on DVD

This collection showcases a selection of hard-to-see features that are unavailable to watch anywhere else (legally) in the UK.

The films include gothic classics such as Uncle Silas (1947), starring Jean Simmons and Katina Paxinou on wicked form, edgy revenge comedy 3 Steps to Heaven (1995), featuring Katrin Cartlidge and James Fleet, and incisive documentaries exploring the history of cinema in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Poland and China, directed by a range of key international filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, Stephen Frears and Jean-Luc Godard. Two fascinating films by female directors are also featured here – the feminist Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair (1978) and artist Gillian Wearing’s Self Made (2010).

We also present some of the films that feature in A Story of Children and Film (2013), Mark Cousins’ personal and poetic exploration of the cinema of childhood. Until this wonderful documentary, films such as Hugo and Josephine (1967), Bag of Rice (1996) and Willow and Wind (2000) have been near-impossible to see. We hope this collection will introduce new audiences of all ages to these amazing films.

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Unavailable on DVD
View Welcome to Britain
Welcome to Britain
HD

Welcome to Britain 1976

Ben Lewin’s 1976 film captures a moment in Britain's evergreen immigration debate, focusing on new arrivals at Heathrow as they wrestle with immigration law.

70 mins United Kingdom Director. Ben Lewin

View Extremes
Extremes
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Extremes 1971 Not Rated

In-your-face 70s documentary exploring the lives of Hell's Angels, hippies, skinheads, rudeboys, mods and drug addicts.

82 mins United Kingdom Director. Michael Lytton, Anthony Klinger

View Secret Rites
Secret Rites
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Secret Rites 1971 18

'King of the Witches' Alex Sanders initiates doe-eyed Penny into the ways of his coven.

47 mins United Kingdom Director. Derek Ford

View Spirit of Albion
Spirit of Albion
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Spirit of Albion 1987

On the road with New Age travellers: political disquiet in the apocalyptic years of the mid-80s.

58 mins United Kingdom Director. Richard Philpott

View Achilles' Heel
Achilles' Heel

Achilles' Heel 1973

Alan Clarke’s film of a day in the life of a professional footballer as he deals with the newfound pressures of money, glamour and celebrity in the 1970s game.

70 mins United Kingdom Director. Alan Clarke

View Food of Love
Food of Love
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Food of Love 1997 15

Richard E. Grant leads a dramatic reunion as friends and lovers gather to perform Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in Stephen Poliakoff’s romantic comedy.

109 mins United Kingdom Director. Stephen Poliakoff

View The Happiness of Three Women
The Happiness of Three Women
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The Happiness of Three Women 1954 U

The Wishing Well Inn in rural Wales is the bustling centre of love and intrigue in this charming romance starring Petula Clarke.

78 mins United Kingdom Director. Maurice Elvey

View Blue Scar
Blue Scar
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Blue Scar 1949

A stirring tale of love, music, and coalmining in Abergwynfi, South Wales.

102 mins United Kingdom Director. Jill Craigie

View The Perfect Woman
The Perfect Woman
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The Perfect Woman 1949

In a bid to improve on nature, a scientist creates a robot female. But the experiment doesn't quite turn out as planned...

86 mins United Kingdom Director. Bernard Knowles

View Miranda
Miranda
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Miranda 1948

A man goes fishing and comes home with a most unusual catch in this comedy feature.

80 mins United Kingdom Director. Ken Annakin

View Doombeach
Doombeach
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Doombeach 1989

A truant schoolboy sabotages the secretive power station he believes killed his friend. With Glenda Jackson.

85 mins United Kingdom Director. Colin Finbow

View Captain Stirrick
Captain Stirrick
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Captain Stirrick 1982

Pickpockets, mad puppets, and murder – all from the 1840 press accounts of a real case that lead to the gallows – conceived as a musical by the Children’s Film Unit.

90 mins United Kingdom Director. Colin Finbow

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Pop Pirates
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Pop Pirates 1984

Home taping almost kills music as a schoolboy band's dreams of talent show glory may be scuppered by video piracy.

58 mins United Kingdom Director. Jack Grossman

View Twice Branded
Twice Branded
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Twice Branded 1936

The great James Mason has a juicy early role in this dynamic vintage drama of false imprisonment, disgrace, deception and family intrigue.

68 mins United Kingdom Director. Maclean Rogers

View What Every Woman Wants
What Every Woman Wants
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What Every Woman Wants 1954

The trials and tribulations of 1950s working class family life are engagingly evoked in this warm-hearted drama of urban England.

89 mins United Kingdom Director. Maurice Elvey

View Bless 'em All
Bless 'em All
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Bless 'em All 1948 U

AWOL for more than half a century, but now back on parade, this cheery army comedy is a showcase for variety star Hal Monty and a young Max Bygraves.

79 mins United Kingdom Director. Robert Jordan Hill

View Vroom
Vroom
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Vroom 1988 15

Beeban Kidron’s first feature film follows Clive Owen, David Thewlis and Diana Quick as they take to the road in a bubblegum-pink Chevrolet.

89 mins United Kingdom Director. Beeban Kidron

View Secret Friends
Secret Friends
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Secret Friends 1991 15

Alan Bates stars as an illustrator whose life begins to unravel as fantasy and reality collide in Dennis Potter’s psychosexual drama.

97 mins United Kingdom Director. Dennis Potter

View Lamb
Lamb
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Lamb 1985 15

In one of Liam Neeson’s earliest starring roles, he plays an errant priest who kidnaps a vulnerable boy from an abusive Catholic school

110 mins United Kingdom Director. Colin Gregg

View The Private Life of Don Juan
The Private Life of Don Juan
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The Private Life of Don Juan 1934 U

Husbands lock up their wives when the renowned Romeo returns to Seville; but the man wooing the city’s ladies is not what he seems.

89 mins United Kingdom Director. Alexander Korda

View Doublecross
Doublecross
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Doublecross 1955

Exciting British B-movie about a Cornish poacher who clashes with dangerous international spies.

71 mins United Kingdom Director. Anthony Squire

View Madness of the Heart
Madness of the Heart
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Madness of the Heart 1949 PG

The path to true love never runs smooth, but poor Margaret Lockwood gets more of a bumpy ride than anyone deserves in this post-war melodrama.

105 mins United Kingdom Director. Charles Bennett

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Escape from Broadmoor
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Escape from Broadmoor 1948

An escaped murderer faces the vengeful spirit of the woman he killed in this 'psychic mystery' British B-movie.

39 mins United Kingdom Director. John Gilling

View The Boy and the Bridge
The Boy and the Bridge
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The Boy and the Bridge 1959

A child's-eye-view of one of the capital's most iconic landmarks, with stunning views of the Thames and its traffic.

91 mins United Kingdom Director. Kevin McClory

View The Silent Playground
The Silent Playground
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The Silent Playground 1963

A warning tale about the dangers of taking sweets from strangers.

75 mins United Kingdom Director. Stanley Goulder

View Blanche Fury
Blanche Fury
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Blanche Fury 1947 PG

Valerie Hobson stars as the scheming governess with designs on taking over the Fury estate, in this atmospheric Gothic melodrama

95 mins United Kingdom Director. Marc Allégret

View Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill
Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill
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Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill 1948

Two public school teachers clash over teaching methods and the love of a good woman in this absorbing Hugh Walpole adaptation.

92 mins United Kingdom Director. Lawrence Huntington

View The Bad Lord Byron
The Bad Lord Byron
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The Bad Lord Byron 1949

Ambitious, eccentric and hugely entertaining biopic, with Dennis Price's 'wicked' poet-adventurer defending himself in a celestial court.

85 mins United Kingdom Director. David Macdonald

View They Came to a City
They Came to a City
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They Came to a City 1944

Long-unavailable Utopian fantasy (or 'socialist propaganda'?) - a true oddity from the wartime Ealing Studios.

77 mins United Kingdom Director. Basil Dearden

View Mr. Topaze
Mr. Topaze
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Mr. Topaze 1961

Charming character comedy, unseen for decades, starring Peter Sellers as a school teacher corrupted by big business.

84 mins USA Director. Peter Sellers

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The Great Barrier
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The Great Barrier 1937

Ambitious, stirring British Western that pits man against the elements in the battle to drive a railway through the Canadian Rockies

84 mins United Kingdom Director. Milton Rosmer

View The Triple Echo
The Triple Echo
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The Triple Echo 1972

Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson star in the rarely seen drama about an AWOL soldier who disguises as a woman to avoid capture.

94 mins United Kingdom Director. Michael Apted

View Stories of Our Lives
Stories of Our Lives
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Stories of Our Lives 2014

Five stories of forbidden desire, courageously collected to tell the hidden truths of LGBT life in Kenya.

Kenya Director. Jim Chuchu

View Of Good Report
Of Good Report
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Of Good Report 2013

Disturbing but deeply stylish South African drama about a teacher who becomes obsessed with an under-age pupil in his class, with tragic consequences.

100 mins South Africa Director. Jahmil Xolani Thandikhaya Qubeka

View The Optimists of Nine Elms
The Optimists of Nine Elms
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The Optimists of Nine Elms 1973

Peter Sellers is superb in a warm, wistful family drama, in which two Battersea kids forge an unlikely alliance with a faded music hall star.

110 mins United Kingdom Director. Anthony Simmons

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Peter Ibbetson
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Peter Ibbetson 1935

One of the most unjustly overlooked fables from Hollywood’s golden age, a stunning romantic fantasy about two divided lovers united in a dream world.

88 mins USA Director. Henry Hathaway

View Love Me Tonight
Love Me Tonight
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Love Me Tonight 1932

Rouben Mamoulian’s highly inventive romantic comedy set new standards for the use of music in film. And it’s still an utterly charming romantic delight.

104 mins USA Director. Rouben Mamoulian

View Wild West
Wild West
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Wild West 1992 15

Defying opposition from his conservative Pakistani family, Zaf Ayub dreams of becoming Southall's greatest gift to country & western.

85 mins United Kingdom Director. David Attwood

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Traveller
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Traveller 1981

Reluctant newlywed travellers Angela and Michael try to smuggle goods across the border in this lyrical Irish road movie written by Neil Jordan.

80 mins Ireland Director. Joe Comerford

View A Private Enterprise
A Private Enterprise
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A Private Enterprise 1974

The trials and tribulations of Shiv, a South Asian entrepreneur trying to set up a business in industrial Birmingham

78 mins United Kingdom Director. Peter K. Smith

View "Underage"
"Underage"
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"Underage" 1982

Racism, glue-sniffing, petty theft and promiscuity - Coventry teenagers at play.

57 mins United Kingdom Director. Kim Longinotto, Lizzie Lemon

View Giro City
Giro City
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Giro City 1982

Glenda Jackson and Jon Finch play Welsh investigative journalists covering the Troubles in Northern Ireland only to unearth censorship and corruption back home...

102 mins United Kingdom Director. Karl Francis

View Play Me Something
Play Me Something

Play Me Something 1989

Tilda Swinton stars in a playful and ingenious cine-essay on the art of storytelling, from art critic John Berger and filmmaker Timothy Neat.

72 mins United Kingdom Director. Timothy Neat

View Maeve
Maeve

Maeve 1981 Not Rated

Pat Murphy and John Davis’ experimental film about an Irish woman’s reflections on the Troubles from a female perspective.

90 mins United Kingdom Director. John Davies, Pat Murphy

View Ascendancy
Ascendancy

Ascendancy 1982

An English aristocrat is driven to despair over the effects of violence on her family, in this powerful meditation on the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

92 mins United Kingdom Director. Edward Bennett

View Helen of Four Gates
Helen of Four Gates
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Helen of Four Gates 1920

A tale of treachery, madness and thwarted love in this vivid rural melodrama set around Heptonstall in Yorkshire.

77 mins United Kingdom Director. Cecil M. Hepworth

View Britannia of Billingsgate
Britannia of Billingsgate
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Britannia of Billingsgate 1933

A star is born in this effervescent musical comedy that moves between Billingsgate Fish Market and the glamour of the film world.

80 mins United Kingdom

View Ireland - Behind the Wire
Ireland - Behind the Wire
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Ireland - Behind the Wire 1974

A powerful record of what life 'behind the wire' was like for the Catholic community living in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry during The Troubles.

110 mins United Kingdom

View Solomon and Gaenor
Solomon and Gaenor
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Solomon and Gaenor 1998 15

The moving and passionate story of illicit love between a Welsh girl and a Jewish boy, set against a backdrop of industrial unrest in the Welsh Valleys of 1911.

104 mins Wales Director. Paul Morrison

View Comin' Thro' The Rye
Comin' Thro' The Rye
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Comin' Thro' The Rye 1947

A brisk and rousing biopic of Robert Burns, punctuated by songs and poems based on his famous works.

56 mins United Kingdom Director. Walter C. Mycroft

View Hero
Hero
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Hero 1982

In a medieval Scotland where sorcery still reigns, a young knight joins a band of warriors but becomes enmeshed in a power struggle with their leader.

92 mins United Kingdom Director. Barney Platts-Mills

View We Went to Wonderland
We Went to Wonderland
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We Went to Wonderland 2008

British-Chinese filmmaker Xiaolu Guo follows her ageing parents' journey to the West as they visit Europe. A rare chance to see one of Guo’s most personal films.

United Kingdom Director. Xiaolu Guo

View Cocaine
Cocaine
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Cocaine 1922

A decadent, controversial tale of London's seedy underbelly, where an elegant Chinese club host enslaves the weak with white powder.

80 mins United Kingdom Director. Graham Cutts

View Skid Kids
Skid Kids
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Skid Kids 1953

Young 'Swanky' Clarke, leader of the Burton Bullets Cycle Speedway Club, foils bicycle thieves on the streets of 1950s Bermondsey.

49 mins United Kingdom Director. Don Chaffey

View Pirates of 1920
Pirates of 1920
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Pirates of 1920 1911

A rip-roaring adventure tale with a nod to Jules Verne, as a band of futuristic cut-throats terrorise the skies in their trusty airship.

14 mins United Kingdom Director. Dave Aylott, A.E. Coleby

View High Treason (silent version)
High Treason (silent version)
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High Treason (silent version) 1929

A terrorist plot plays out on a backdrop of towering skyscrapers, bullet-railways and silver lamé in this vintage vision of London's future.

75 mins United Kingdom Director. Maurice Elvey

View High Treason (sound version)
High Treason (sound version)
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High Treason (sound version) 1929

Extravagantly-mounted futuristic sci-fi, now with added sound, although still with the world's two power blocs at loggerheads.

67 mins United Kingdom

View The Tunnel
The Tunnel
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The Tunnel 1935 U

The construction of a transatlantic tunnel linking Britain and America hits trouble in an entertaining slice of speculative fiction.

93 mins United Kingdom Director. Maurice Elvey

View Child's Play
Child's Play
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Child's Play 1954

Splitting the atom is as easy as ABC in this family-friendly adventure.

68 mins United Kingdom Director. Margaret Thomson

View The Perfect Woman
The Perfect Woman
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HD

The Perfect Woman 1949

In a bid to improve on nature, a scientist creates a robot female. But the experiment doesn't quite turn out as planned...

86 mins United Kingdom Director. Bernard Knowles

View A Bit of Scarlet
A Bit of Scarlet
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A Bit of Scarlet 1996

Mapping how British film and TV depicts the gay and lesbian lifestyle, Andrea Weiss raids the archives for her funny and persuasive documentary.

74 mins United Kingdom Director. Andrea Weiss

View Night of the Filmmakers
Night of the Filmmakers
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Night of the Filmmakers 1995

From the director of Heimat, a mini-epic about the history of German cinema.

90 mins Germany

View Yang ± Yin - Gender in Chinese Cinema
Yang ± Yin - Gender in Chinese Cinema
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Yang ± Yin - Gender in Chinese Cinema 1997

An inspirational and star-laden journey through Chinese cinema in the company of John Woo, Chen Kaige, Ang Lee and Tsui Hark.

80 mins Director. Stanley Kwan Kam-pang

View Irish Cinema - Ourselves Alone?
Irish Cinema - Ourselves Alone?
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Irish Cinema - Ourselves Alone? 1996

Irish images, foreign fathers: asking why a nation's cinematic identity has been outsourced.

51 mins Ireland

View 2 x 50 Years of French Cinema
2 x 50 Years of French Cinema

2 x 50 Years of French Cinema 1995

Six regions, six films appraised for cultural and historical meaning. Produced by Jean-Luc Godard.

50 mins France

View A Century of Australian Cinema
A Century of Australian Cinema
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A Century of Australian Cinema 1996

Mad Max director George Miller explores the tradition of film production in Australia.

65 mins

View 100 Years of Japanese Cinema
100 Years of Japanese Cinema

100 Years of Japanese Cinema 1996

Archive propels argument in this fascinating exploration of the social and cultural importance of Japan's film heritage.

52 mins United Kingdom Director. Nagisa Oshima

View Ping Pong
Ping Pong
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Ping Pong 1986

A young lawyer has to execute the will of a Chinese man found dead in a phone box in a witty comic thriller - the first British-Chinese feature film.

100 mins United Kingdom Director. Leong Po-chih

View Soursweet
Soursweet
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Soursweet 1988 15

Hong Kong newlyweds seek a fresh start in 60s Britain, but fall foul of the Triad underworld in this adaptation of Timothy Mo’s blackly comic novel.

110 mins United Kingdom Director. Mike Newell

View Man without Desire
Man without Desire
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Man without Desire 1923

A sumptuous silent drama of love, frustrated desire and suspended animation in 18th-century Venice.

79 mins United Kingdom

View Friendship’s Death
Friendship’s Death
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Friendship’s Death 1987

Tilda Swinton’s extraterrestrial robot makes left-field political observations about the state of the world in this witty sci-fi film.

78 mins United Kingdom

View Time Flies
Time Flies
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Time Flies 1944 U

Fast-talking funnyman Tommy Handley visits Elizabethan England – and ends up teaching Good Queen Bess con tricks – in this snappy time-travel comedy.

88 mins United Kingdom Director. Walter Forde

View The Wild and the Willing
The Wild and the Willing

The Wild and the Willing 1962

Ian McShane and John Hurt made their feature film debuts in this swinging 1960s drama centring on a group of students and their sexual exploits and escapades.

109 mins United Kingdom Director. Ralph Thomas

View The Phantom Light
The Phantom Light

The Phantom Light 1935 PG

Michael Powell’s gothic mystery of a haunted lighthouse where insanity thrives.

72 mins United Kingdom Director. Michael Powell

View 92 in the Shade
92 in the Shade

92 in the Shade 1975

Peter Fonda and Warren Oates feature in a sweaty and suspenseful tale of warring Florida fishing gangs, in this long unavailable 1970s thriller.

87 mins USA Director. Thomas McGuane

View Self Made
Self Made
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HD

Self Made 2010 15

Artist Gillian Wearing’s documentary observes seven people creating (fantasy?) identities in collaboration with a drama teacher. Raw and revealing.

84 mins United Kingdom Director. Gillian Wearing

View Uncle Silas
Uncle Silas

Uncle Silas 1947

Gothic chiller based on the novel by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Jean Simmons stars as an heiress pursued by her unbalanced uncle and his perverted son.

103 mins United Kingdom Director. Charles Frank

View 3 Steps to Heaven
3 Steps to Heaven
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3 Steps to Heaven 1995

Edgy mixture of black comedy and urban drama about a woman uncovering the hidden truths about her dead lover.

87 mins United Kingdom Director. Constantine Giannaris

View Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair
Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair
HD

Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair 1978

An imaginative, experimental and playful look at myth, storytelling and female identity.

78 mins United Kingdom Director. Susan Shapiro, Esther Ronay, Francine Winham

View A Window in London
A Window in London
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A Window in London 1939

Michael Redgrave's construction worker is embroiled in murder and intrigue in this lively British thriller, packed with pre-war London locations.

77 mins United Kingdom Director. Herbert Mason

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