"The longest unsponsored advertisement ever to reach cinema screens", reckoned producer Monja Danischewski. Maybe so, but Alexander Mackendrick's debut feature is much more than that. This comic account of a real-life event pitches a priggish English army captain against the remorseless guile of an islandful of thirsty Scots defending a cache of shipwrecked whisky, and helped make ‘Ealing Comedy’ one of British cinema’s most enduring brands. It's a film of boundless mischief, and it marked Mackendrick from the start as the most complex and subtle of Ealing's directors.
The SS Politician, whose real-life shipwreck (while carrying nearly 30,000 cases of finest malt) inspired Compton Bennett's source novel, went down off the coast of Eriskay in the Hebrides. The film itself was shot on Barra - a short but sometimes treacherous boat journey away - with many islanders among the extras.
Comedy 2019 116 mins Director: Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle's winning, escapist fantasy images a world where nobody remembers the Beatles' songbook except a struggling singer-songwriter.
Drama 2018 90 mins Director: Andrew Bujalski
Andrew Bujalski serves up a big-hearted comedy with his day-in-the-life look at Double Whammies – a Hooters-style bar and its tight-knit, all-female staff.
Comedy 1951 103 mins Director: Gene Kelly
Hollywood’s troubled transition from silent to talking pictures at the end of the 1920s provided the inspiration for this greatest of movie musicals.
Comedy 1954 112 mins Director: Roy Rowland
Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds lead an all-star cast in this memorable maritime musical.
Comedy 2018 91 mins Director: Carl Hunter
Bill Nighy, Sam Riley and Alice Lowe star in this stylish and heartfelt comedy-drama about a Scrabble-obsessed tailor searching for a lost son.
Comedy 1986 94 mins Director: Frank Oz
Frank Oz's vivid adaptation of the cult sci-fi musical, with Rick Moranis as a flower-shop assistant battling a 'Mean Green Mother from Outer Space'.
Crime 1926 91 mins Silent Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Ivor Novello plays a strange lodger who may be behind a number of Jack the Ripper-style killings in Alfred Hitchcock’s silent thriller.
Drama 2007 96 mins Director: Joanna Hogg
On a Tuscan break a fortysomething woman finds herself drawn to the company of a group of partying teens, including a young Tom Hiddleston (in one of his earliest roles).
Drama 2013 92 mins Director: Paul Wright
An intense and mysterious drama about the lone survivor of a strange fishing accident who’s outcast and persecuted by his fellow villagers.
Biopic 1988 84 mins Director: Terence Davies
Terence Davies' debut feature is a remarkable evocation of working-class family life in the 40s and 50s and a visionary exploration of memory.
Drama 1919 74 mins Silent Director: Oscar Micheaux
Oscar Micheaux’s startling silent classic – the earliest surviving feature from an African-American director – presents a fascinating black counterpoint to Griffith’s Birth of a Nation.
Drama 2012 107 mins Director: Sally El Hosaini
Sally El Hosaini's feature debut tells of the love and disenchantment of two British-Egyptian brothers. Gangs, drugs and sexuality come between them
Featuring Finlay Currie
Thriller 1948 95 mins Director: John Paddy Carstairs
The Orient Express plays host to a plot involving adultery, espionage, robbery and murder in this fine British thriller.
Thriller 1933 91 mins Director: Walter Forde
A star-studded international cast boards the Paris-Rome express for this lavish comedy-thriller from Gainsborough Pictures.
War 1943 82 mins Director: Lawrence Huntington
Nazi agents are pitted against a gang of plucky Brits in this exciting comedy-thriller set in a country house where danger awaits a visiting VIP.
Drama 1937 75 mins Director: Michael Powell
Michael Powell's daring, windswept story of the inhabitants of a remote island who find their way of life threatened by a rapidly industrialising world.
Featuring Basil Radford
War 1943 103 mins Director: Frank Launder
The finest example of British wartime fictional propaganda follows a group of women who take on factory work to support the war effort.
War 1946 100 mins Director: Basil Dearden
A realistic recreation of life as a prisoner of war in Germany lends credence to this moving account of wartime survival against the odds.
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick
Drama 1952 93 mins Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Alexander Mackendrick's drama about a deaf girl and her unstable family life is remarkably unsentimental while still packing an emotional punch.
Comedy 1954 92 mins Director: Alexander Mackendrick
A wily old tugboat skipper outfoxes a wealthy American businessman in Alexander Mackendrick's underrated Ealing comedy
Drama 2018 84 mins Director: William McGregor
A young girl tries desperately to protect her family from illness and dark outside forces in William McGregor's stark period horror.
Drama 2019 111 mins Director: Marco Berger
A tentative friendship blossoms into a beautiful bromance in this erotically-charged yet disarmingly sweet-natured offering from Marco Berger (Taekwondo).
Documentary 2019 124 mins Director: Asif Kapadia
The supreme football superstar is the latest subject for acclaimed filmmaker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna), as he deftly explores the complicated dynamic between Diego the man and Maradona the icon.
Documentary 2018 91 mins Director: Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog meets the former President of the Soviet Union in this invigorating portrait of a towering 20th-century figure.
Drama 2017 108 mins Director: Annabel Jankel
Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger star as two very different women who fall in love in this 1950s-set romantic drama.
Drama 2017 104 mins Director: Sebastián Lelio
This invigorating and inspiring Chilean drama from Sebastián Lelio (Gloria) follows a trans woman’s quest for a little respect. Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film 2018.