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BRITISH FILMS OF THE 1950s

THE LAVENDER HILL MOB 1951 - Writer T.E.B. Clarke and director Charles Crighton's inventive, carefully observed Academy Award nominated black comedy about a meek bank clerk who oversees the shipment of bullion, remains perhaps the quintessential example of Ealing's comedy output at its classic peak. Memorable characters, consummate performances and an overriding air of sheer, unadulterated class indelibly mark's this film out as one of 'the' all time great comedy classics.
Voted 17th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT 1951 - Writers Roger MacDougall, John Dighton and writer-director Alexander MacKendick combine their not inconsiderable talents for a brilliantly realised combination of farce and social satire which marked yet another highpoint for both star Alec Guinness and the Ealing stable. A chemist invents a fabric that resists wear and stain but wealthy mill owners want it suppressed for economic reasons.
58th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

THE CRUEL SEA 1953 - Adapted from Nicolas Monsarrat's best selling novel by Eric Ambler and directed by Charles Frend, the stark story of the lives and experiences of a World War Two Atlantic based corvette crew hauntingly illustrates the sheer hopelessness and erosion of humanity caused by the circumstances of war. The inimitable Jack Hawkins radiates innate dignity, despair and effortless authority in the crucial central role.
75th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

GENEVIEVE 1953 - Writer William Rose and director Henry Cornelius weave a warm and endearingly good-natured blanket of gentle humour around the slight tale of friendly rivalry between two friends and the women in their lives during a vintage car rally. Cast and script sparkle, while Larry Adler's jauntily infectious harmonica score is the perfect topping to a much-loved confection.
86th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

THE BELLES OF ST. TRINIAN'S 1954 - Writer-director Frank Launder, partner Sidney Gilliat and co-writer Val Valentine bring cartoonist Ronald Searl's monstrous schoolgirl minxes to bright and cheerful life, aided and abetted by the wonderful Alastir Sim leading an adult cast comprising of some of Britain's finest comedy character actors (including Gerge Cole). Infinitely superior to the sequels which followed.
94th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

THE DAM BUSTERS 1954 - Written by R.C. Sheriff from the books by Guy Gibson and Paul Brickhill and directed by Michael Anderson, the true story of the daring air raid that lead to the destruction of the mighty Ruhr dams by the innovative 'bouncing bombs', remains one of British cinema's best and most excitingly recreated accounts of an actual World War Two event. Michael Redgrave's slightly absent-minded Barnes Wallace is perhaps a shade too understated, but Richard Todd's Guy Gibson is wonderfully commanding.
68th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

THE LADY KILLERS 1955 - Writer William Rose and director Alexander MacKendrick's acutely funny black comedy is a genuinely high-water mark even by Ealing's prestigious standards. Cast and crew mesh seamlessly to produce a truly outstanding landmark of unashamedly British cinematic comedy in which five diverse oddball criminals, planning a bank robbery rent rooms from an octogenarian widow under the pretext that they are classical musicians.
13th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

REACH FOR THE SKY 1956 - Written and directed by Lewis Gilbert, the story of World War Two fighter pilot Douglas Bader's inspirational personal battle to return to active combat duty following the loss of his legs is presented with a stiff upper lipped sincerity laced with a healthy dose of understated humour that does full credit to an extraordinary act of real life courage and single-minded determination. Kenneth Moore delivers a career best performance of genuine warmth.
78th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.
THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI 1957 - David Lean directed epic story of British POWs in Burma forced to build a bridge for their Japanese captors, becomes an epic examination of obsession, misplaced honour and the ability of war to shatter even the strongest person's sanity. Alec Guinness delivers an intensely impressive and effortlessly dominant performance.
11th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

ROOM AT THE TOP 1958 - Adapted from John Braine's industrial North set kitchen sink novel by Neil Patterson and directed by Jack Clayton, the story of a ruthlessly social climbing clerk was a stark landmark in the realistic depiction of sex and social envy for British cinema of the time. Amongst a first rate cast, sultry French star Simone Signoret makes an especially memorable impression.
32nd best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

I'M ALRIGHT JACK 1959 - Written by Frank Harvey and John Boulting from the novel "Private Life" by Alan Hackney and directed by Roy Boulting, this wide ranging and at times bitingly sharp and funny satire about a wide-eyed innocent who unwittingly causes a nationwide strike, targets class, corruption and working life in 50s Britain with an unerring accuracy and bright, knowing and intelligent wit. Ian Carmichael shines as the innocent, but it's Peter Sellers who steals the film.
Voted 47th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

PEEPING TOM 1959 - Written by Leo Marks and directed by Michael Powell, this dark, disturbing and convincingly performed examination into the disturbed mind of a young voyeuristic killer is an ahead of its time exercise in unsettling suspense which lingers in the memory long past its initial viewing.
Voted 78th best British film of all time in the BFI's top 100.

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