Earl Cameron

Trailblazer, groundbreaker, godfather, pioneer... we chart the trajectory of Earl Cameron’s unique film career.

When Earl Cameron passed away in July 2020 at 102 his venerable age included seven decades of memorable performance on screen. He made his major debut in Basil Dearden’s Pool of London in 1950. The African American titan Paul Robeson had been the only other male Black actor to have starred in a British film, back in the 1930s. The trajectory of Cameron’s unique film and television career, alongside some of the prime screen actors of post-war Britain (Bogarde, Attenborough, Connery, Baker), includes a 15-year interval of spiritual retreat in the Solomon Islands in service to the Baha’i faith.

Trailblazer, groundbreaker, godfather, pioneer... These are the verdicts of hindsight. What’s on celluloid from the start is Cameron’s luminous, naturalistic presence, a quality of ease and repose in front of the camera: the sure mark of a star whatever the size of the role or the billing status on a poster. 

- Burt Caesar


Season co-curated by actor-director Burt Caesar and the BFI’s Marcus Prince and David Somerset

Please note: these films may contain language, images or other content that reflect views prevalent in its time, but that may cause offence today. The titles are included here for historical, cultural or aesthetic reasons and these views are in no way endorsed by the BFI or its partners.

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Flame in the StreetsFlame in the Streets

Drama196193 minsDirector: Roy Ward Baker

John Mills stars as a progressive union leader who is confronted with his own internal prejudices when his daughter brings her West Indian boyfriend home.

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Police drama195992 minsDirector: Basil Dearden

A young student with a secret is brutally murdered in this British Academy Award winning thriller about race, sex and jealousy.

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The Heart WithinThe Heart Within

Crime195759 minsDirector: David Eady

Thrilling adventure set in London's docklands involving a young lad and a Trinidadian docker who's framed for murder.

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Pool of LondonPool of London

Crime195185 minsDirector: Basil Dearden

Earl Cameron plays a naive Jamaican sailor who's dragged into a botched diamond robbery when trying to help a friend.

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The QueenThe Queen

Drama2006103 minsDirector: Stephen Frears

Helen Mirren won an Oscar for her performance as the enduring monarch who comes under scrutiny following the death of Princess Diana.