Tales of war and want, nerve and desire, flavoured with wit and rhythm from some of the greatest filmmakers ever assembled.
Comic books and potboilers, literature and memoir populate these stories from a nation whose land and language accommodates tellers from the world.
A Matter of Life and Death
Fantasy1946104 minsDirector: Michael Powell
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s timeless romantic fantasy, with David Niven as an airman trapped between life and death.
The Red Shoes
Drama1948135 minsDirector: Michael Powell
Moira Shearer’s ballerina is torn between love and her career in Powell and Pressburger’s hugely influential melodrama.
The Ipcress File
Crime1965108 minsDirector: Sidney J. Furie
The coolest spy of all – Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer – makes his brilliant big screen debut in this landmark British spy thriller.
Distant Voices, Still Lives
Biopic198881 minsDirector: 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.
Drama1947101 minsDirector: Michael Powell
Tensions grow when a group of nuns open a convent in the Himalayas in Powell and Pressburger’s remarkable melodrama, starring Deborah Kerr.
Historical drama1944131 minsDirector: Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier rouses an all-star cast and an imperiled nation with his magnificent adaptation of Shakespeare's warrior monarch.
The Elephant Man
Biopic1980124 minsDirector: David Lynch
David Lynch's moving true-life tale of the severely deformed Joseph Merrick and his rescue from the hell of a Victorian circus sideshow.
Drama1960101 minsDirector: Michael Powell
Michael Powell’s dark, disturbing, once controversial tale of a shy camera technician who films women as he kills them is now rightly deemed a classic
The 39 Steps
Thriller193583 minsDirector: Alfred Hitchcock
Sublime and suspenseful version of the popular John Buchan spy thriller from the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock.
Hell Is a City
Police drama195996 minsDirector: Val Guest
Punchy crime thriller with a realist streak as Stanley Baker pursues a fugitive through the streets of Manchester.
The Draughtsman's Contract
Period drama1982107 minsDirector: Peter Greenaway
Peter Greenaway became a director of international status with this witty, stylised, erotic country house murder mystery.
Ill Met by Moonlight
War1957100 minsDirector: Michael Powell
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s film of the daring WII raid to capture a German commander, with Dirk Bogarde and Marius Goring.
Burning an Illusion
Legal and Courtroom drama1981101 minsDirector: Menelik Shabazz
Menelik Shabazz’s pioneering first feature traces the emotional and political growth of a young black couple in Thatcher’s London.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
War1943164 minsDirector: Michael Powell
Powell and Pressburger’s masterpiece follows the rise and fall of a career soldier, from dashing and brave young officer in the Boer War to a pompous and old-fashioned Colonel by the time of World War Two.
Comedy196398 minsSilentDirector: John Schlesinger
Tom Courtenay is the clerk whose overactive fantasies compensate for a dull provincial life, in this classic film from the British New Wave.
Drama197246 minsDirector: Bill Douglas
The first part of Bill Douglas’ poetic and profoundly stirring autobiographical trilogy, about an eight-year-old boy growing up in a Scottish mining village in 1945.
My Way Home
Drama197872 minsDirector: Bill Douglas
Concluding his acclaimed Trilogy, Bill Douglas’ autobiographical film follows young Jamie as he’s conscripted in the RAF and finally feels at home.
A Night to Remember
Disaster1958123 minsDirector: Roy Ward Baker
Widely regarded as the finest film account of the sinking of the Titanic, this moving seafaring disaster tale will grip you from start to finish.
Oliver Twist (1946)
Period drama1948116 minsDirector: David Lean
Arguably the essential Dickens adaptation, David Lean’s evocative portrayal of Victorian London in sooty black and white features Alec Guinness as a memorably sinister Fagin.
Period drama1947118 minsDirector: David Lean
The first of David Lean’s two Dickens adaptations is one of the finest British literary interpretations and one of the most acclaimed of all British films.
This Sporting Life
Sport1963129 minsDirector: Lindsay Anderson
Lindsay Anderson’s fantastic first feature masterfully dissects the brutal life struggles of a rough-edged rugby footballer on and off the field.
Seance on a Wet Afternoon
Crime1964111 minsDirector: Bryan Forbes
Bryan Forbes’ stylish psychological thriller about a medium who plans to kidnap a child and help the police solve the crime to bolster her reputation as a clairvoyant.
Things to Come
Science Fiction193697 minsDirector: William Cameron Menzies
H.G. Wells' chilling vision of the future, which imagines the 20th Century as a near-endless war and struggle against tyranny, remains a key milestone in British science fiction.
The Four Feathers
Action and Adventure1939115 minsDirector: Zoltan Korda
Ambitiously mounted and shot in Technicolor, this is by far the best screen adaptation of the popular adventure story set during the Anglo-Sudan War.
A Canterbury Tale
War1944125 minsDirector: Michael Powell
Powell and Pressburger's most personal film combines a Chaucer-inspired pilgrimage with a war-time celebration of English landscape and values to create a gem of British cinema.