back to article Don’t Look Now hailed top Brit movie

A Time Out poll of 150 film movie industry experts has declared Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now the best British film ever. The heavyweight panel of judges which came to this conclusion included "directors Sam Mendes, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Wes Anderson; actors David Morrissey, Sally Hawkins and Thandie Newton; newspaper and …


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  1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    The Third Man is a Brit movie?

    Yes, based on a Graham Greene novel, but: set in Vienna, male leads Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten.

    1. graeme leggett

      And not forgetting

      Trevor Howard, and to Bernard Lee who also have prominent roles

    2. Anonymous Coward


      ... produced and directed by an Englishman (Carol Reed) for a British production company (British Lion), and Greene also wrote the screenplay as well as the source novel.

      Yes, it's very British.

    3. Giddy Kipper

      @Disgruntled yank

      See here;

      There's a 'UK' next to the date.


    4. Euchrid

      re: The Third Man is a Brit movie?

      “Yes, based on a Graham Greene novel, but: set in Vienna, male leads Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten.”

      Graham Greene wrote the script – the novel was published later.

      It was ‘a London Films Production’ – as far as I’m aware that’s London, England.

      Carol Reed, the director, was British. So was Guy Hamilton, the assistant director… in fact most of the crew were British.

      Trevor Howard, one of the main co-stars was British – and he has far bigger screen time than Welles in the film. Plus, there was other British talent in the cast, such as Wilfred Hyde-White and not one, but two actors who would play M in the Bond films.

      Casablanca wasn’t set in America, but I think most would see that as an American film.

    5. Jamie Kitson


      Most of it was shot in the UK apparently and it was directed and produced by an Englishman.

    6. Jedit

      You got that far down?

      Don't Look Now - set and filmed almost entirely in Venice, and starring an American and a woman born in India who lived less than 10 years of her life in Britain - is the best British movie ever?

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        @ Jedit

        Donald Sutherland is Canadian, not American -

    7. Magnus_Pym

      nationalism huh?

      Lots of British actors 'go to hollywood' to make films that turn out to be set all over the place. I think it's more to do with the producers, directors and the studio. If you look too hard it all gets a bit silly trying assign a nationality to what is, in effect, a world industry.

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge


    It's long been my belief that most of the films critics "like" are ones I absolutely hate. (Not all: I quite liked The Third Man). The main reason is that I watch films to be entertained: for a good plot. I care very little for the quality of the cinematography or the expert touch of the lighting or most of the other things that seem to send critics into paroxysms of adulation.

    So on that basis, I'd be more interested in knowing what the bottom 20 films were. Although having checked out the list, it apparently doesn't go low enough as a lot of numbers 100 -80 still appear more "worthy" than cracking good stories.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: anti-correlation

      Yeah but if the cinematography and lighting and wotnot aren't right, your brain may notice, and it may unconsciously affect your enjoyment. Critics are sometimes concerned with entertainment value, y'know.

      Or maybe you just enjoy simple entertaining films which is totally fair enough and all. I'd be interested to know what your favourites are. Kind of.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        A simple kinda guy

        Yup, simple is good. Multilayered is good, too. Artsy-fartsy: no thanks, gore-fest: not my cuppa.

        Liked: 2001 (in the list), Local Hero (also in the list)

        Disliked: Pans Labyrinth (not in the list), Clockwork orange (?)

        As a guide, if it conforms to Mark Twain's Rules of Fiction then there's a good chance I'll like it. If it spends more time showing off the prowess of the writers/actors/technicians than it does telling a story, I'm out.

      2. Def Silver badge

        Re: Re: anti-correlation

        You usually do notice production values pretty quickly - subconsciously or not. However, if you become engrossed in the story you're more than likely to forget about them pretty quickly - unless the production quality is truly awful, and the acting is pants, of course.

    2. dotdavid

      I agree somewhat

      Generally I don't agree with the critics' when they say something is a bad film, if I like the film's genre, as they tend to have tastes on the highbrow side and sometimes you just want to watch things explode and people shoot at baddies. I've found IMDB ratings to correlate pretty well with my tastes, again only if I like the genre...

      That said when the critics agree something is a good film, I tend to agree with them, so who knows.

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: I agree somewhat

        The critics don't always agree, though. I agree with some of them some of the time. Generally critical consensus works out for the best, though... that's how it should work.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pseuds corner?

    "a movie whose every glorious frame is bursting with meaning, emotion and mystery, and which stands as the crowning achievement of one of Britain’s true iconoclasts and masters of cinema".

    That's got to be one for pseuds corner.

    Actually I find most british film "experts" to be pretentious, self important, pseuds who dislike anything populist. Therefore I tend to ignore anything that most of these "experts" have to say. If I enjoy something I enjoy it and I don't mind people knowing that. So many of these people however aren't really in the business of discussing film, but are mainly in the business of trying to impress. In particular they seem to spend most of their time trying to impress each other.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Pseuds corner?

      Any sentence containing effusive and imaginative praise of anything is considered eligible for Psueds Corner now. And quite right. I myself shall not rest until all published criticism is in the form of grunts.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brit Movie

    How do you define a British movie? At it's most basic you might say it was down to the company that made the film. In that case of course The Italian Job is not a British movie.

    1. wibbilus maximus


      The company that made the film is Oakhurst Productions. They were a British company so how does your point work????

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        The movie was funded and therefore made by Paramount. Yes it was a British idea, a very British idea, but no British studio picked it up. Normally in these cases the yanks would have chucked in a couple of American leads and had everybody else British to comply with the Eady plan, but it simply couldn't have worked with a yank playing Croker or Bridger. So instead got Maggie Blye and Raf Valone. Were it not for the Eady plan you can bet your life Paramount would have had a yank heavy crew. A lot of films were only "British" because of the Eady plan. A protectionist tax regime which would probably be illegal these days.

        A Ford GT40 would be a good analogue. I think most people would consider that to be an American car. The fact that almost all of it was the result of British expertise didn't make it a British car in most people's eyes. Henry Ford decided to make a car to win Le Mans, they didn't have the expertise in the states so they hired British know how to build it. Ford payed for it (and to be fair it did have an American engine, but the same could have been done with a British engine) it wore a Ford badge so it was a Ford and therefore American.

  5. DJ 2

    Obviously he's in the wrong line of work,

    Lesbian Vampire Killers was the pinicale of British film making.

    Plot, Lesbian vampires, love story, and a huge C**K sword.


    1. Marcus Aurelius

      Lebian Vampire Killers: all the perfect film elements

      ...put together in the only way to guarantee it sucked

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A title is required

    Surely "best films" is purely subjective, thus rendering the "experts" opinions interesting but largely meaningless.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: A title is required

      Of course it's subjective, ultimately - you can't prove a film is better than another. I know you lot would like that to be possible, but... it ain't.

      Film threads on the Reg, eh.

    2. Annihilator Silver badge


      Of course they're subjective - that's why it wasn't constructed by one person :-)

      Critics are usually blessed with understanding of what makes a film "good", notice things that you see unconsciously, ignore gratuitous "ooh that was cool" moments etc. You can usually recognise a form of critic by their ability to complete the sentence "I liked/disliked that film because <blank>" with more than "it was good and had Keanu Reeves in it"

  7. Anonymous Coward

    A loveable Roeg?

    I know it's largely about personal taste, but this deification of Nicholas Roeg never fails to depress me. OK, fair enough, Don't Look Now is brilliant (but the best?), I can live with Walkabout (just) and think Performance is a self indulgent mess - but Bad Timing, how did that ever get in the list?

    1. Baldie

      In defence of Bad Timing

      Four great (or at least charismatic) performances, a train crash of a doomed love affair and a brilliant sound track (Keith Jarrett and Francois Rabbath). I would have put it higher. But then I would have put Fish Tank in the top 10 and moved the Railway Children up quite a few as well.

  8. TheItCat
    Thumb Up

    The Italian Job

    Having bought the Italian Job on Blue Ray recently I can safely say that while it contains a number of iconic scenes it is definitely *not* a great movie and I'm pleased to see it doesn't appear in the list.

    My partner, having never seen it before, was astounded that it was considered a classic.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Can you do me a favour and check that Mark Wahlberg wasn't starring in the film you watched? If he was, then carry on with your criticism, then look for the proper one.

    2. jai

      re: The Italian Job

      Your reality, ma'am, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.

      it's an awesome movie, endlessly entertaining, and thankfully missing a holywood feel-good ending. and it's a damn sight better than bloody Kes (although, admittedly, got to give some thanks to Kes for it's influence on the League of Gentlemen sketch with Dr Chinnery... but i digress...).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not a great movie goer

    So it didn't surprise me that I hadn't even heard of almost half of the top ten. Furthermore I can, with hand on heart say, that after reading the words of the time out critic I won't be in any hurry to see Don't Look Now.

    Classic wise I'd have gone for Kes and Brassed Off but that might have something to do with childhood memories and being able to understand the dialogue.

  10. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    "Don't Look Now"

    It's the movie with the little girl in the red dress playing in Venise?

  11. LPF


    No offense to you and your good lady, but you are wrong FACT

    There is so much win in the Italian job, that not only could the remake not come close to it, but it is a film

    that even 40+ years after it was made is still superb! A number of iconic scences sweet jesus , how about iconic from start to finish , including the soundtrack!

    1. TheItCat

      Assumptions and all that

      That would be my man, actually :p

      Please explain to me how a film with more holes than plot, an absolutely cringeworthy Benny Hill and paper thin characterisation can be classed as "great"?

      Sure, it's got a great car chase and some uplifting photography - the opening sequence driving through the Alps is incredible - but cinema is about more than that.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        I agree with TheltCat...

        ... "The Italian Job" is one of my favourite films - always has been, and always will be. However, it is a *great film*, not a *great FILM*. Of the top 10 listed, I think I only consider one to be in the second category ("A Matter of Life and Death"), because it has the same elements as "The Italian Job" (humour, problem solving, marvellous leading characters, lightness of touch, and overall 'feel-good'), but it does it without the plot holes, the dodgy editing, and a sort of "that'll do" feeling to the production. However, once all the films that I consider to be dross are taken out of the list (which includes anything by Roeg - boring as hell, all those I've seen) are taken out, "The Italian Job" would probably be well into the top 20!

  12. Alex Walsh

    Don't look now

    Good for several points:

    1) big moustache. Not enough of these in films nowadays

    2) proper 70's sex scenes

    3) weird midget

    But the best British film ever? Bonkers.

  13. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Title <- gets boring doesn't it?


    Walkabout, fantastic photography so excellent advert for the Australian Tourist industry but...

    No sensible story line, some very dodgy borderline sexual innuendo (girl was portrayed as mid-teen probably a no-no today), unpleasant 'dispatch' of the aborigine boy.

    Don't Look Now, very disturbed portrayal with a depressive ending. There is more than enough misery in the real world - don't need this.

    The Third Man, could have been compressed into about 20 minutes.

    Kind Hearts and Coronets, quite pleasant, but nothing really special.

    A Matter of Life and Death, quite thought provoking.

    Not seen any of the others and only have a vague clue about trainspotting.

    However, in my mind the only truly Classic British film has to be The Italian Job (original with Michael Caine), and of course the single most iconic line is 'You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off'

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Don't look now?!?!

    "a movie whose every glorious frame is bursting with meaning, emotion and mystery"

    In other words, an incomprehensible, pointless mess. And some tosser then says "well it's art so it's all down to your own interpretation - we don't have to make it mean anything".

  15. Pahhh

    IMDB rank vs Critics ranks

    The IMDB rank works pretty well for me. Its amazing how often my rank on film is pretty similar to IMDB ranks. However, my view of a film and a critics view of a film are often at odds. Think we should just ignore the critics choice and go for viewers ranks.

    Good call on "Trainspotting" being in the top 10 methinks... personnally I would have put Brazil, Clockwork Orange, the Wicker Man, Get Carter in the top ten too........

  16. Ron Luther

    Carry On?

    Surely the Carry On films are the height of British cinema?

    1. Marcus Aurelius

      Carry On Films

      ...are both the height and bottomless pits of hell of British cinema

  17. HRH Martin

    A pretty good list

    Seen a decent bunch of them and enjoyed them. The main reason I like this list is that, unlike those cum bubbles in Oscar land, the compilers have actually seen the films they've voted on.

  18. Dan P

    No Italian Job??

    Fail. Utter fail. I mean, seriously, pure, utter and complete fail. FAIL I SAY!

  19. Aggellos

    Give me a cup of Ealing any day

    the best films are the most popular anything is just personal preference even if it is a tiny group of misanthropic industry insiders, take the vitriolic unrealistic garbage that was the hurt locker was seen by few liked by less yet it got the nod for the best film ?.

    The best films are the ones we can all agree on the films that sparked the imagination of the majority, it sad that we only get bombarded by Hollywood as there are some great Asian and European films we miss only to get the hollywood rehashed versions indiviuals like quentin tarantino have made a career out of it.

  20. Richard 120


    A genre vastly overlooked when it comes to best films.

    I think the italian job misses out because it has some comedy in it.

    Never mind eh?

    Some things in life are bad,

    They can really make you mad.

    Other things just make you swear and curse.

    When you're chewing on life's gristle,

    Don't grumble, give a whistle,

    And this'll help things turn out for the best.

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