Sunday, 19 October 2014

Fehér Isten [White God] (2014, Hungary); Dir. Kornél Mundruczó

The story goes that in 1929 when the ballots were counted for the inaugural Academy Award for Best Actor, the male performer garnering the most votes was not Emil Jannings, who ultimately received the prize, but a ten year-old orphan of the First World War who had become one of Warner Bros most bankable assets in a succession of cheap and cheerful adventure yarns. His name was Rin Tin Tin. 

Like many apocryphal tales it's probably more revealing than the reality. Jannings' Hollywood career would end shortly afterwards when the introduction of sound rendered his thick German accent impractical. He returned to his homeland, where he made The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich, and continued working when the Nazis came to power, being lauded by Goebbels and appearing in several propaganda films during WWII. After the Nazis defeat Jannings was banned from acting, his reputation forever tarnished. Rin Tin Tin on the other hand became a byword for Hollywood's pioneering age and archetype of the scene-stealing animal actor.

Audiences may have grown more sophisticated in the 90 years since Rin Tin Tin rose to fame, but our affinity for animal performers, particularly of the canine variety, remains undiminished. In 2001 critics at the Cannes Festival initiated the Palm Dog Award to recognise noteworthy canine actors, be they real or animated. Past recipients have included Uggie, the undoubted star of Michel Hazanavicius's silent homage The Artist.

This year, Cannes' cynophilic critics awarded the prize to the four-legged cast of White God, Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó's apocalyptic satire about a canine uprising, where it also received The Prize Un Certain Regard. Ahead of a general UK release next year the film was entered in the London Film Festival and an impressive crowd convened at for a screening at the Odeon Covent Garden on a rainy Sunday night on October 12.

Ostensibly it's the story of Hagen, a good natured cross-breed (or mutt, depending on your standpoint) whose 12 year-old owner Lili is forced to move in with her estranged father when her mother goes overseas on business. It's quickly apparent that dad doesn't share Lili's deep affection for Hagen and when tensions finally reach breaking point he hurls the dog into the streets of Budapest to fend for itself.

After briefly finding solace with a community of fellow strays, Hagen falls into the hands of criminals, gets pumped with steroids to make him more aggressive, and is trained for a gruesome career as a fighting dog. When he's then locked up in the dog pound and faces extermination, our hero finally decides it's time to stick it to the Man and instigates a full-blown revolt, which quickly spreads across the city and leaves the human population in besieged terror.

How or what has caused the behaviour of Hagen and his accomplices is never explained, although there is a tongue in cheek implication that it may originate with infected meat at the abattoir where Lili's father works. Even when the dogs begin brutally settling scores with their erstwhile tormentors the tone is more blackly comic than horrifying, sometimes slyly recalling scenes in other 'man vs. beast' movies such as The Birds, Jurassic Park and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Like the latter film in particular we find ourselves siding with the animals when they turn the tables. Everybody loves an underdog.

Yet, in novel contrast to modern Hollywood, the film was entirely shot in live action and required extensive training not only of Hagen (who was in fact played by two American dogs), but the entire canine cast. Knowing this adds an extra appreciation to certain scenes, such as Lili being pursued by the dogs through Budapest's deserted streets and a remarkable closing shot that can only have been achieved through hours of forbearance.

Speaking at a Q&A after the screening, Mundruczó explained how he had originally taken inspiration from J.M. Coatzee's novel Disgrace and the shame he felt looking through the fence of a dog pound and then began to consider the potential of an allegorical tale about the persecution of minorities. "You can criticise your society without a direct political statement, which I think this is something far from art. In my eyes political art is not like journalism" he said.

White God's director Kornél Mundruczó with co screenwriter
Viktória Petrányi (l) at the London Film Festival
Hungarian premier Viktor Orban's anti-liberal, pro-nationalist stance, inspired by Putin's posturing, has seen systemic attacks on national media outlets which don't share his philosophy. Internationally White God has been well received but in Hungary, Mundruczó noted, the critics have been divided by its unclassifiable nature. The public though were far more generous, something which gives the director hope that free speech and independent thought can still prosper.

Some detractors have reproached the distinctly one dimensional characterisation of the human cast, a criticism that seems akin to criticising Some Like It Hot for not being an earnest depiction of transvestitism or organised crime. It's true that some of the more melodramatic scenes between Lili and her father don't quite come off, but the story is obviously a fable, and as such populated largely by stock characters. As a surreal fantasy, and as an incitement to thought, it more than delivers

White God's dedication to the late Miklós Jancsó, the great Hungarian director who often delivered veiled critiques of the political system in films such as The Round-Up, is a reminder of eastern European cinema's proud history of allegorical cinema. Jancsó was able to see a preview of White God shortly before he died early this year and it's no surprise it received his endorsement.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Fragments of Fame - Cigarette Cards & Forgotten Film Stars

One morning last summer, while watching The Wicked Lady, I found myself intrigued by the mischievous glint of the actress who'd been cast in the role of the supporting role of Lady Henrietta Kingsclere, sister-in-law to Margaret Lockwood's character in the film. A quick check of the ever-reliable (except when it's not) Wikipedia advised me her name was Enid Stamp Taylor, a name hitherto unfamiliar to me.

After first making her mark in Hitchcock's Easy Virtue, Taylor had enjoyed moderate success as a leading lady in British films of the 1930's before settling into smaller parts.  As it happens The Wicked Lady was her penultimate picture; she died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall (most likely caused by a seizure) just a couple of months after it was released, aged just 42. It was when I ran an image search for Taylor on Google that my attention was grabbed not by a photograph, but an illustration of her that adorned an old cigarette card.

Nothing terribly interesting or surprising about that, you might think. Possibly, but until then I'd always imagined that the screen icons depicted on cigarette cards were the leading Hollywood players of the day, not those of the somewhat more parochial British film scene. Spurred by this discovery it wasn't long before I was perusing the listings of old cigarette cards on eBay which, as it happened, were often available in full sets for quite reasonable prices. What fascinated me were not those cards bearing pictures of celebrities who remain familiar to us today, but those for whom posterity hasn't been so generous. 

And so it transpired that I started buying cigarette cards of film stars and have now built up quite a respectable collection. If there was any doubt before I think it's official: I'm a geek.

For those non cartophiles (as we're apparently known) out there it might help to briefly summarise the history of these papery ephemera. The precise origins of cigarette cards, and who first thought of the idea to print a picture on the stiffening card used to reinforce the flimsy early cigarette packs as a promotional tool, is something of a mystery. However there's a general consensus the earliest known cards are those of the American manufacturer Allen and Ginter in 1875 and that from the start pictures of actresses, as well as those of sportsmen and even Indian chiefs, were typical subject matter. 

Oddly enough cigarette cards didn't prove particularly successful in the US and it wasn't until the idea was imported to Britain a few years later that the story gathers momentum. Bristol-based manufacturer W.D. & H.O. Wills began distributing two-colour advertisement cards around 1887/88 and John Player & Sons took the next step with the first British general interest set, 'Castles and Abbeys', in 1893. It didn't take long for the other tobacco companies to cotton on to this enticement to brand loyalty.


The undisputed kings of those early days however were Thomas Ogden, whose Guinea Gold series of cards first appeared in 1894 and ran until 1907. Guinea Gold cards are almost a phenomena in themselves; a fascinating miscellany of the preoccupations of a Victorian Britain basking in the golden age of the Empire and with subject matter ranging from personalities involved in the Boxer Rebellion to Indian landscapes through to racehorses and ships.

It was Guinea Gold who, so far as can be ascertained, issued the first card to feature an individual associated specifically with the nascent wonder of the Cinematograph. It was not however an actor but one of its self-proclaimed inventor: Thomas Edison. 










Enter Cinema

As mentioned actresses, of the theatrical variety, were to be found on cigarette cards almost from their inception and the trend for featuring images of attractive ladies, or 'beauties' as they were typically described, was by no means diminished when the novelty migrated to Britain and its territories. Even in those less overt times sex sold and tobacco manufacturers were keen for their consumers to draw an association between the female form and the sensual appeal of smoking. It might be stretching a point to suggest cigarette cards were the internet pornography of the Victorian/Edwardian era but more risque material was harder to come by.

The stage, both legitimate theatre and music hall, continued to be a source of inspiration for the tobacco companies at the turn of the century, but as the general public remained clueless to the identities of the actors in those early moving pictures there were no film 'stars' to feature. By 1909 many would be familiar with the names of the major studios: Biograph, Vitagraph, Edison, Essanay and perhaps with Britain's most prolific film producer of the time, Cecil Hepworth. Most these companies maintained their own repertories of contracted actors and actresses, many of whom were drawn from the stage. However, they were rarely credited and it was left to the public to dimly perceive those players they may have seen in an earlier film.

Although the Edison Co began publicising their leading actors slightly earlier the decisive, if somewhat romanticised, moment came in 1910 when Universal Studios future founder Carl Laemmle poached Biograph's brightest talent, Florence Lawrence. After planting false information in the press that Lawrence had died in a train crash, then allowing the public time to mourn and eulogise her passing, Laemmle confessed his ruse and announced she would henceforth be appearing exclusively in films by his own company, Independent Motion Pictures (or IMP). 

The story crossed the Atlantic and Florence Lawrence became the first movie star whose name had currency with the British public. She was swiftly followed by others, such as her successor as 'Biograph Girl' Mary Pickford and the now sadly maligned Mabel Normand, another Biograph player, who defected to Mack Sennett's newly formed Keystone Studios in 1912. 


James Wilson aka Billy Quirk (apparently)
So it was that in 1913 London-based tobacconists Major Drapkin and Co. could issue the first series of cards exclusively dedicated to film stars, Cinematograph Actors, confident that the names and faces would be recognised.

I recently acquired a few cards in this series (a full set would likely cost upwards of £500) and they're a revealing insight into those early days of film stardom. A number of the early pioneers are present: Florence Lawrence and Mary Pickford are joined by a few recognisable names such as Francis X. Bushman and the French comedian Max Linder (a formative influence on Chaplin) but the vast majority are mere ghosts, their work long since lost to the ravages of time upon brittle and volatile nitrate film stock.

It's notable that most the pictures display the idents of that particular actor's studio, suggesting these names were at least as commonly known as that of the stars themselves. For the film historian trawling the internet for any clues to who these people were (i.e. me) this can be invaluable. Typical of this is 'James Wilson' (pictured), an actor with Biograph who made a number of films with D.W. Griffith, who was actually better known by the moniker of Billy Quirk (and indeed usually sported a hairpiece).



Before long all the tobacco card manufacturers wanted a piece of this new novelty. A 25-card series called Cinema Stars issued by Wills in 1916 indicates British cinema had now started to develop a star system of its own. Alongside Gertrude Robinson and Ethel Barrymore are such home-grown talent as Queenie Thomas, Lily Ward and the exotically named 'Madame Pareva'. 

Many were 15 minute sensations; Lily Ward was a product of the short-lived Yorkshire film industry financed by Bamforth Films, the company better known today for Donald McGill's saucy seaside postcards, before the demands of the First World War curtailed their aspirations. The set is completely comprised of women; the issuers perhaps deciding their customers had no interest in pictures of men who make a living prancing in front of a camera while fathers and sons were being slaughtered on the battlefields of Europe.

By the dawn of the1920's there's an increasing number of familiar names. F. & J. Smith's 1920 series Cinema Stars, originals of which are much sought after today, has a roll-call including Chaplin (twice), Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Tom Mix, John Barrymore and British cinema's biggest star of the period Alma Taylor.


But there are also plenty of curiosities. Edwards, Ringer and Bigg's 1923 series Cinema Stars (get the impression there was a paucity of ideas when it came to naming these sets?) includes a rather distinctive figure they identify as 'Larry Seman'. In fact he was Larry Semon - stop tittering - a prolific comedian of the slapstick era who once drew comparisons with Keaton and Chaplin, worked with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy before they were teamed together, and also directed the 1925 version of The Wizard of Oz

Like a depressingly high number of those early stars Semon's fate was not a prosperous one. His elaborate visual gags and special effects proved so expensive that his studio Vitagraph finally demanded that Semon produce and underwrite his own films. Even a switch from shorts to more lucrative feature films couldn't arrest his growing financial woes and he finally suffered a nervous breakdown before dying of pneumonia. A number of Semon's shorts can be found on Youtube and are worth a look, if only to ponder how some comedians are canonised by history while others are consigned to obscurity.





Tubby Phillips
If I had to pick a favourite series though it's a set of 50 cards called Who's Who in British Films issued by R. & J. Hill in 1927. The first card in the set is Betty Balfour, whom the blurb describes as "the Queen of British film stars", who she certainly was at that point, chiefly for starring in the 'Squibs' series of films. Balfour's career would nosedive with the advent of sound. Second is the series is a figure who remains remembered today as much for the songwriting awards that bear his name: Ivor Novello. 

There are one or two other familiar faces: the ill-fated Lilian Hall-Davis, Alma Taylor and the woman who started it all for me, Enid Stamp-Taylor. But for the main part it becomes a question of "Who Indeed?" and a voyage into the unknown... Adeline Hayden Coffin... Julie Suedo... Moore Marriot... Tubby Phillips... Pollie Emery... and more. These are British film stars and I feel I ought to know more of them and yet that's what makes it so intriguing. All that remains are these fragments of the fame that was.


Cigarette cards continued to be issued in dozens of sets throughout the 1930's. I find these later series, although sometimes beautifully illustrated, hold less fascination simply because the icons they depict are often such familiar ones, at least to a film enthusiast. Then in 1940 the paper and card rationing enforced by the Second World War brought about their abrupt demise. For whatever reason there was never any serious attempt to revive cigarette cards in the post-War years, although trading cards continued in other forms. So here they sit on my table, safely housed in plastic sleeves and ring binders, a vestige from a simpler time.

Let's finish on some cards of note...

Strictly speaking my favourite card, one of the Guinea Gold series circa 1900, shouldn't really be classed as a film star. George H. Chirgwin, otherwise known as the White-eyed Kaffir, was one of the most popular music hall performers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There were numerous other minstrel acts doing the circuit but few quite as distinctive as Chirgwin, who seldom appeared on stage without his make-up. He made a handful of appearances on film including one short, The Blind Boy, which he wrote and directed (was based on one of his own songs). Only a few seconds of footage of Chirgwin are known to still exist.

I acquired this card after fending off an American bidder on eBay. In truth I paid more than I should but it's such a striking image it was worth it.








Part of British American Tobacco's Actresses series issued in 1910, Phyllis Monkman was a revue performer who made numerous forays onto the screen during a long career, including Hitchcock's Blackmail. However, history remembers her as the woman said to have taken the virginity of Prince Albert, or 'Bertie', the future King George VI during a private encounter. Historians have since debunked this, pointing to an encounter Bertie had with an unnamed woman in Paris (I love that serious historical debate is given over to the popping of royal cherries). 


Either way, Phyllis was never averse to publicity and in 1916, at the height of the First World War, the periodical Pearson's Weekly ran a competition in which male readers were invited to write and apply for the chance to win a series of dates with, and possibly even marry, Miss Monkman if she could find her ideal man. Concerned by the burden frustrated soldiers might put upon the Army postal system, the authorities ordered that the competition be ended before there was a winner.




Another from Wills's 1916 Cinema Stars set. Frankly I wouldn't have even heard of Mary Miles Minter but for reading Sidney D. Kikpatrick's book A Cast of Killers last year, which recounts King Vidor's investigation into the 1922 murder of fellow director William Desmond Taylor. Minter had been a successful child star several years earlier, at the time this card was issued, and her success continued with an adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, directed by Taylor in 1919. 


A close relationship developed between the pair although opinions differ as to whether it was an affair or simply a teenage infatuation on Minter's part (Taylor was thirty years her senior). However, when romantic letters from Minter were found at Taylor's house after his murder her reputation was irrevocably tarnished and she retired from acting the following year. 

Kirkpatrick's book, which dramatises supposedly actual events, climaxes with Vidor confronting Minter decades after the murder, still convinced that she or her mother were in some way implicated. Minter is depicted as a pathetic, Baby Jane-like figure, who had never been able to adjust to reality. Personally I'm not sure whether to believe it's a faithful account of what happened, but it certainly casts Minter in a weird light.




From Edwards, Ringer and Bigg's Cinema Stars in 1923. Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa will forever be remembered as Alec Guinness's nemesis Colonel Saito in The Bridge on the River Kwai so it's perhaps surprising to see him gracing a cigarette card so many years earlier. In fact I was shocked to learn Hayakawa was one of the highest-earning stars in Hollywood at the turn of the 1920's, with a popularity to rival that of Chaplin or Fairbanks (says Wikipedia). Hayakawa's brooding good looks and potent sexuality gave him heartthrob status at a time when Valentino was still scraping a living as a dancing waiter in New York.

Hayakawa had originally arrived in the US to study political economics at the University of Chicago but grew disillusioned and quit. It was only while waiting for a transpacific steamship in Los Angeles that he developed an interest in acting and theatre which changed his life. He'd arrived at the perfect time; the film industry's migration west had only started a few years previously and opportunities were plentiful. By 1921 leading roles in films such as The Cheat and The Dragon Painter had taken him all the way to the top.

What went wrong? In short a profligate lifestyle and plain prejudice. By the time this card was issued he'd been forced out of Hollywood, but there were plenty more highs and lows to follow. Expect more on this fascinating figure in a future entry.


Wills's Cigarettes once again settled upon the imaginative title of Cinema Stars for this 1928 set which contains what might seem like an anomaly. Charlie Chaplin, who'd been somewhat quiet since the release of The Gold Rush three years previously (but would shortly return with The Circus) isn't included in the series, but his brother Sydney Chaplin is. Rather than concoct something original to say I'll copy the text from the back of the card...

Beginning his stage career as a child, he went to sea for a time, but later returned to acting. After being his famous brother's manager for some while, Syd Chaplin decided to act for the films himself, and also struck out in comedy. His type of comedy and his technique are different from Charlie's, as may be seen from his films, which include "Charlie's Aunt", "The Better '`Ole" and "A Little Bit of Fluff." To make the last, he returned to England, having been a member of Fred Karno's famous "Mumming Birds" on stage over here many years ago. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on March 17th, 1887, he has black hair and brown eyes.

As it happens Syd was born in 1885 and was Charlie's half brother, his true paternity the source of some mystery. Syd had been enjoying some modest solo success as a comedy star back in England at the time this card was issued until claims of sexual assault (he was accused of biting off the nipple(!) of actress Molly Wright) in 1929 forced him to hightail it back to the US, leaving considerable debts in his wake. Thereafter he mainly focused on handling his brother's affairs and eventually settled in France, dying in 1965. From what I've seen of his work Syd has never struck me as more than a competent performer, but probably deserved better than to have a montage of moments put to a soundtrack of "The Wind Beneath My Wings" in a sickly Youtube tribute.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Margaret Lockwood: Darling of Suburbia - Part 1

Lockwood's former home: 34 Upper Park Road, Kingston
©Richard Halfhide
L ondon’s cinematic psychogeography is a varied tapestry; some locations still seem permeated with mystery or drama, others bear no trace of their history. Sequestered in Upper Park Road, a quiet corner of Kingston upon Thames, is a house whose uniform nondescriptness belies its status as the final residence of an actress who was once the brightest light in British cinema. 

Yet it’s entirely fitting. While she may have enjoyed its benefits Margaret Lockwood never courted celebrity. The star of The Man in Grey and The Wicked Lady was at heart an ordinary, middle-class girl; unpretentious and in some respects almost disappointingly prosaic. If her reclusive later years bestowed an enigmatic quality it probably owes more to Lockwood’s innate reserve than anything intrinsically Garboesque.

Nor for that matter did she possess the caustic tongue of Louise Brooks, something borne out by the somewhat placid serialised account of her life Lockwood gave to the long-running fan magazine Picturegoer across five weeks between March and April, 1950. 

Picturegoer, March 25, 1950
©IPC Media
Although it was followed by an autobiography, Lucky Star, a few years later the articles Lockwood just at the point when her celebrity was beginning to wane. Following a much-publicised dispute with Gainsborough her last two films, the melodrama Madness of the Heart and knockabout historical comedy Cardboard Cavalier, had been coolly received and Lockwood embarked on stage tours in Noel Coward's Private Lives and subsequently the title role in Peter Pan. 

A comeback - the spy film Highly Dangerous - was already in pre-production but it seems likely that these articles had been conceived as a means of keeping Lockwood in the public eye during this screen hiatus. Despite being only 33 Lockwood's very provincial brand of stardom was about to be supplanted by a younger, brasher generation of actresses who weren't afraid to flaunt their charms in a manner in which she would have surely demurred. Ironically Picturegoer itself would become renowned for its cheesecake covers of bikini-clad starlets over the next decade. 




"British films have not always given Margaret Lockwood a square deal, but she has always given them rather more than value for money."
Popular appeal is crucial to understanding Margaret Lockwood's success. Between 1946 and 1948 she won the public vote in three consecutive Best Actress prizes at the Daily Mail National Awards, a precursor of sorts to the BAFTAs. A public appearance tour in 1945 drew hysterical responses from her devoted, largely female, fan base.

However the critical establishment treated Lockwood with at best ambivalence and sometimes outright hostility, particularly in the wake of the Gainsborough dispute. Film scholar Bruce Babbington, in his essay ''Queen of British hearts': Margaret Lockwood revisited' suggests this was largely due to fears about the "feminisation" of British cinema generated by the success of the Gainsborough melodramas.

Lockwood's supporters such as Leonard Wallace, ghost writer of these memoirs, were truculent in their defence. "You only have to work with Margaret Lockwood to realize very quickly there's not an ounce of conceit in her... British films have not always given [her] a fair deal, but she has always given them rather more than value for money" he notes in his introduction.

Another was Daily Express feature writer Eve Patrick who devoted an entire article admonishing the increasingly vindictive attacks on Lockwood: "For too long now has Margaret Lockwood been a sitting target and general Aunt Sally for every would-be wisecracker."

To those only partially aware of the Lockwood cannon the criticisms do seem uncharitable and perhaps a little perplexing. My own perception was shaped by the vivacious young starlet of Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, where in both character and performance she was more than the equal of Michael Redgrave during their screwballesque exchanges. Lockwood's natural, unaffected manner in that film seems to anticipate the egalitarian, less class conscious spirit that would emerge during and after the war.

But while watching a number of Lockwood films over the course of the past year I would come to realise that neither is the The Lady Vanishes especially representative of her career. In fact, taken as a whole, as an actress she's deeply frustrating...


L et's go back to the beginning. Margaret Mary Lockwood Day was born in Karachi, then India, in 1916. The Raj still firmly held dominion and Lockwood's father, an Englishman, was an administrator for the railways. Her mother, Margaret Evelyn Lockwood, a redoubtable Scot, wearied of their itinerant life on the subcontinent and decided to return to the UK, bringing Margaret and Margaret's elder brother, Lyn, with her. So peripheral does Margaret's father become thereafter that they were effectively a single parent family.

They eventually settled in Norwood, south London, within a stone's throw of Sydenham Park and the Crystal Palace. At that time a small and fragile-looking child, Lockwood showed little academic prowess but some promise as a performer prompted Margaret Sr. to enrol her daughter in stage school.

In an age when our celebrity-fixated culture is taken to task for inspiring unrealistic notions of a fast track to fame and fortune one ought to bear in mind this is really nothing new and a theatrical career was by no means frowned upon for a young lady. "Don't put your daughter on the stage Mrs Worthington," Noel Coward sang in his 1933 lament of pushy mothers attempting to thrust their less-than-capable progeny into the limelight.

Ironically Lockwood, blossoming into anything but an "ugly ducking", made one of her earliest stage appearances in Coward's Cavalcade, a tenure cut prematurely short when she made the innocent mistake of repeating to her mother some of the playwright's fruitier backstage banter, prompting Mrs Lockwood to withdraw her from the production.

Lockwood makes light of the incident in Picturegoer but it's an early hint as to the troubled relationship she would have with Margaret Sr. which would eventually lead to outright hostility and a breakdown of all relations, something detailed at length in Hilton Tims' 1989 biography Once a Wicked Lady. Nevertheless when, at sixteen, Lockwood announced her desire to become a professional actress, it was her mother who arranged her audition with RADA.

She was accepted and made, by her own account, "rapid progress" during her two years at the Academy. Another significant development was Lockwood's signing with manager Herbert de Leon, who would become her lifelong mentor and confidante. De Leon had the honour of first introducing Lockwood to Alexander Korda... who politely declined the opportunity to recruit the young ingenue (a mistake Korda would later recount he'd also made with Marlene Dietrich).

Unperturbed, the agent arranged a screen test for her at the British International Pictures studio at Shenley Road, Elstree, where her once luxurious eyebrows were shaved off at the insistence of the cameraman, never to return. The test footage was shown to director Basil Dean who initially cast her in a small role in a production of Lorna Doone. As with so many star biographies fate then played its hand; when second lead Dorothy Hyson was taken ill Lockwood was promoted to the larger role.

Curious to note here that Lockwood recalls being "about twenty-two" when her lucky break took place. In fact Lorna Doone was made in 1934 and she was still just eighteen. It seems odd that Lockwood should have such a hazy recollection of the formative years of her career. I'm going to hazard a guess that it was an unconscious slip, because at "about twenty-two" Lockwood would make a decision that irrevocably changed her relationship with her mother...

Lorna Doone was followed by four years of solid if unspectacular progress in middling quota quickies such as The Case of Gabriel Penny and Who's Your Lady Friend? One important alliance she formed during this period was with a young director named Carol Reed, whom Lockwood had first encountered as the assistant director on Lorna Doone.

When Reed came to make his directorial debut the following year with the breezy sea adventure Midshipman Easy he made good on a promise to cast her. Their next film together, Who's Your Lady Friend? was, by all accounts, a disappointment but Reed kept faith (albeit under duress from the studio chiefs) and in 1937 cast her again in one of the sadly forgotten gems of pre-war British cinema: Bank Holiday...

Bank Holiday depicts a typical long weekend in the late 1930's and an ensemble of loosely connected people, of various ages and backgrounds, who flock to the fictitious seaside resort of Bexborough (Brighton by another name). The film has a warmth and naturalism that breaks away from the creaky staginess of most British drama hitherto, yet appears presciently aware that the way of life it depicts will soon come to an end. A newspaper billboard at the beginning bears the legend "WAR CLOUDS OVER EUROPE", although at the time filming began (September 1937) it was still two years away.

Lockwood plays Catherine Lawrence, a nurse who has developed a friendship with an expectant father, Stephen Howard (John Lodge), who is left distraught when his wife dies during labour. Torn between remaining to console Stephen or meeting with her fiance Geoffrey (Hugh Williams), who has designs on spending a dirty weekend on the south coast. She goes, but as events conspire to thwart Geoffrey's intentions Catherine finds herself reassessing their relationship, rushing back to London to check on Stephen just in time to prevent him taking his own life.

The relaxed, confident nature of her performance, compelling in her confliction, not to mention radiantly beautiful, ranks among the best of Lockwood's career. That she doesn't dwell on the film in greater length says much about the personal tumult with which it coincided.

She had known Rupert Leon (no relation to Herbert) since she was seventeen and it was during the making of Bank Holiday that the couple decided to marry. "It was to be a quiet wedding at a registry office, with no publicity and no photographers." Lockwood recounted (in fact it took place in Epsom, barely 200 yards from where I'm writing this).

The key detail she omits is that her mother had known nothing about it. It wasn't until the following March that a reporter who had heard rumours of a secret marriage would break the news to Margaret Sr., leading to a harrowing confrontation. Hilton Tims, who interviewed Lockwood at length in the late eighties, wrote of the incident: "It was the first time Margaret had seen her mother in tears. On and on Margaret stormed. How could she have been so ungrateful and deceitful? She had brought shame on them all." Although a peace of sorts would be established the betrayal left permanent scars.

It's hardly surprising of course that the whiff of anything scandalous was airbrushed out of Lockwood's history. That her marriage to Rupert broke down not long after the birth of their daughter Julia in 1942 is also not touched upon at all during the articles, although it would have been widely known by 1950. 

Professionally the secret marriage did no harm to Lockwood's growing reputation. Shortly after she was cast in The Lady Vanishes, a role which consolidates the easy assurance she'd displayed in Bank Holiday. However, while she is complimentary of the film (and paints a fairly typical picture of Hitchcock and his attitude toward his cast) she expresses frustration being "simply a nice girl. I hadn't yet had much chance to act on screen".

Those chances - and a shot at Hollywood stardom - would soon present themselves. In fact the next two years, more so than her early successes or the glories that were to come at Gainsborough, would reveal much about Margaret Lockwood.

To be continued...

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Fade out - 2013 in review

Okay, so this is unfashionably late. Seasoned hacks filed their end-of-year reviews back in early December and here am I, on January 2nd, finally composing mine. Is it any wonder this blog attracts so few visitors? If you're going to be mediocre you should at least have the courtesy to evacuate your verbal effluence in a timely manner.

But enough of my long standing problems with indolence and self loathing, what of 2013? For me it was a year in which I ingested more celluloid, figuratively speaking, than ever before. 418 films in total; from Sailor Suit and Machine Gun though to Robot and Frank (the full list can be found at the foot of this post). Am I the richer for this experience? Probably not but cinema works out cheaper than a coke habit and it doesn't dissolve the septum.

In terms of summarising all this raw data I've been in something of a quandary. Should all simply reflect my favourite films I've watched this year from any era? That would be too easy. So let's begin with a rundown of my Top 25 new releases from the past twelve months...

25. Side Effects (2013, US, Steven Soderbergh)


Deliciously twisted, both narratively and morally, Steven Soderbergh’s bad pharma themed psychological thriller leaves a slight aftertaste of misogyny but the same could be said of many of the film noirs that inspired it. And Catherine Zeta-Jones was born to play a femme fatale.
















24. The Bling Ring (2013, US, Sofia Coppola)


Sofia Coppola’s gaudy anti-fable about fame-obsessed Californian teenagers who burgled Paris Hilton et al affects the absence of morality. Like Spring Breakers (and by all accounts The Wolf of Wall Street) it’s hard to tell where aestheticism ends and satire begins.














23. Gravity (2013, US, Alfonso Cuarón)

Two thirds big budget art movie, one third sellout. It’s staggering how such a massive production can lack an intelligible script. Kudos to Sandra Bullock for her dedication to her craft but my preferred reading of the final twenty-five minutes are that it’s actually a dying woman’s fantasy. I half expected the character to be greeted by her dead daughter when she arrived back on terra firma. Indeed I think that would have made for a more satisfying and enigmatic ending.














22. Leviathan (2012, US, Lucien Castaing Taylor & Verena Paravel)

That's "Leviathan", not "Lev-ar-thee-an" as the woman at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley bizarrely insisted on pronouncing it before a Q&A with the ever-so-slightly tetchy co directors one cold Saturday evening in late November. Surely the strangest film of 2013 to secure mainstream distribution, Leviathan depicts life on board a Nantucket fishing vessel as a immersive, abstract collage of sights and sounds that might as easily derive from the bowels of hell. The disorientation of this experience, by comparison with the anthropocentric norm, is actually rather invigorating.










21. McCullin (2012, UK, Jacqui & David Morris)

One of the earlier films of 2013 (by the autumn it was appearing on television) this profile of celebrated war photographer Donald McCullin is a fascinating insight into what compels a man to seek out such traumatic situations and the personal toll that comes with it.
















20. No (2012, Chile, Pablo Larrain)

The true story of the 1988 referendum that brought down the Pinochet regime in Chile is recounted in Pablo Larraín’s surprisingly light drama. Accusations that the film simplifies what took place are probably justified and perhaps the film ought to be viewed in tandem with works such as Costa-Gavras’ Missing or Patricio Guzman’s documentary Nostalgia for the Light. The aesthetic decision to shoot on 80’s videotape, to allow for less jarring integration with the historical footage, was commendable.











19. Blackfish (2013, US, Gabriela Cowperthwaite)

A damning indictment of the practices of SeaWorld and their treatment of killer whales, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary will leave any intelligent viewer enraged that semi-sentient creatures are being kept for the purposes of human amusement. Such has the film’s impact been that Pixar felt moved amend their depiction of a marine park in the forthcoming Finding Dory. 












18. All is Lost (2013 US, J.C. Chandor)

I suppose this should be considered a late entry as I watched it on December 31st and possibly if it hadn’t been fresh in the memory it may not have charted. Still, I like films which strip drama to the bare essentials and J.C. Chandor’s tale of an old man and the sea is the sort of existentialist analogy that Gravity ought to have been. Robert Redford as the anonymous hero and solitary cast member runs the gamut of flinches and grimaces, remaining impeccably clean shaven throughout his ordeal.












17. Le Skylab (2011, France, Julie Delpy)

Another late entry. A large family convene to celebrate the birthday of their matriarch in Brittany in the late seventies while somewhere far above the titular stricken satellite is about to plummet back to earth. Enchantingly inconsequential and unmistakably gallic; star and director Julie Delpy has clearly learned from working with Richard Linklater that less is more.















16. Beyond the Hills (2012, Romania, Cristian Mungiu)

This strange Romanian film is going to require another viewing before I have the full measure of it but it slowly reeled me in. An increasingly unnerving dramatisation of a real-life exorcism case that raises questions about the nature of mental illness and the recalcitrance of religious dogma while remaining enigmatic.















15. Before Midnight (2013, US, Richard Linklater)

I hadn’t watched any of the Before series until 2013 but probably relished this the more for seeing the previous two entries just a day previously. Nothing of any great significance really happens of course, but that’s half the point. The success of Linklater, Delpy and Hawke is that we as viewers find ourselves engaged by their dialogue, enjoying their company and caring about their relationship.














14. A Field in England (2013, UK, Ben Wheatley)


Ben Wheatley’s English Civil War drama garnered an invidious amount of attention via its simultaneous release on both tv, dvd and in the cinemas in the summer. There’s a nagging suspicion that even Wheatley himself may not know exactly what’s going on during its trippier sequences but more than enough visceral panache, impressively delivered on a minuscule budget, to give him the benefit of the doubt.













13. Prisoners (2013, US, Denis Villeneuve)

I’m a little disappointed this drama looks like it will be crowded out in awards season. The twisty narrative shifts from an exploration into the traumatising effects of child abduction and possible murder into a vigilante scenario, throwing up a multitude of moral quandaries. A labyrinthine mystery that keeps you guessing.













12. The Stuart Hall Project (2013, UK, John Akomfrah)

Against a soundtrack of Miles Davis and a montage of archive footage, Britain’s foremost cultural commentator looks back on his life and career and the conflicting ideas and forces that have shaped both his notions of identity and those of postwar Britain. It might be one needs to share some of Hall’s postcolonial baggage to find this as engrossing as I did, even while battling the soporific stuffiness of the ICA’s cinema.









11. Seduced and Abandoned (2013, US, James Toback)

Treading a fine line between documentary and mockumentary James Toback and Alec Baldwin’s tongue-in-cheek pursuit of financing for a reimagined take on Last Tango in Paris at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival probably appeals more to those with a knowlege of the machinations of the film industry than your casual cinemagoer. Soliciting the insights of the great and the good it gives a glimpse into both the glorious successes and demoralising compromises that come with bringing a concept to the big screen.






10. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013, UK, Declan Lowney)

Steve Coogan rightly won acclaim for his ‘straight’ performance as journalist Martin Sixsmith in Philomena but I suspect even he would concede that the tragi-comic Alan Partridge is the role for which he’ll remain synonymous.  Indeed Partridigisms were evident in his caricature of Paul Raymond in the disappointing The Look of Love earlier in the year. With Armando Iannucci and Peter Baynham assisting on scripting duties this was always likely to be a solid offering an while the hostage scenario is as contrived as they come it provides the perfect platform for Coogan to indulge in mugging and pratfalls aplenty.










9. Escape Plan (2013, US, Mikael Håfström)

Back in the late 80s it would have been inconceivable that Sly and Arnie’s  egos could have been accommodated in the same room, little alone the same movie. But time has mellowed them, or perhaps just reduced their box office expectations. There’s nothing especially groundbreaking about this souped-up prison movie but in a way that’s part of its nuts-and-bolts old school charm. One remarkable scene in which the tortured Schwarzenegger howls anguish in his native German may just be the finest piece of acting he’s ever done. “I really enjoyed that” said one bloke as I came out of the cinema, and I couldn’t help but concur.











8. Blue Jasmine (2013, US, Woody Allen)

It’s as if the nails are already being hammered into Woody Allen’s coffin with critics increasingly referring to his ‘late’ films whenever he has a new picture out (I imagine he’d opt for cremation anyway). Still this clever reworking of A Streetcar Named Desire is the equal of anything he’s directed in the last twenty years; distinguished by a career-best turn from Cate Blanchett as the bipolar Manhattan socialite forced to move in with her white trash sister after husband Alec Baldwin is jailed for embezzlement. Poignant, funny and unmistakably Woody Allen. Don’t write the old boy off just yet.











7. Nebraska (2013, US, Alexander Payne)

For some reason Alexander Payne’s previous films have always managed to pass me by, much as this black and white quasi indie passed over the heads of the simple folk of Epsom (pathetically there were just two of us in the auditorium when I went to see it). Bruce Dern delivers a touching career coda as the confused old man who travels to the titular state (and his former hometown) after receiving a plainly bogus letter that he’s won a million dollars. But it’s the bittersweet bleakness of the Midwest landscape, mirroring the languid desolation of the characters living there, that lingers long after.











6. I Wish [Kiseki] (2011, Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda)

In an age when the once-great Japanese film industry churns out lamentable trash like Big Tits Zombie and Tokyo Gore Police it might be easy to assume, like Robert Redford, that all is lost. How reassuring then to discover Hirokazu Koreeda’s whimsical tale about two young brothers living in different towns after their parents’ separation who hatch a scheme to meet at the point where the two new bullet trains will rush part each other in the hope the supernatural energy generated will grant them what they most desire. Yet the story is much richer than that; embracing the entire milieu in which the two boys live and the many different friends and family who populate their world. You can almost feel the mighty Ozu watching over proceedings with approval.









5. The Great Beauty (2013, Italy, Paolo Sorrentino)

Paolo Sorrentino claims to have been surprised by the success of his most recent film, but given how flagrantly he both channels the spirit of Fellini and serves up a picture-postcard vision of Rome I suspect him to be disingenuous. La Grande Bellezza appears to have been made with an international audience in mind and although this picaresque odyssey delivers some sublime moments when I reflected over it in the following days I started to wonder if I’d fallen for a con. Perhaps with a subsequent viewing I’ll conclude that whatever its debt to Il Maestro this really was the year’s best. And it pretty much goes without saying however that Toni Servillo is superb as the Mastroianni-esque novelist turned jaded louche.










4. Stories We Tell (2012, Canada, Sarah Polley)


This unabashedly self indulgent documentary recounts how director Sarah Polley learned of her true paternity and how it impacted upon her family. Unpeeling the layers of mystery about her deceased mother she draws upon the insights and recollections of all involved, intermingling both old home movie footage and scenes shot to resemble them. Far from being simply an account of how she met her biological father (who frankly struck me as a bit of a selfish prat) it becomes an affirming meditation on life itself in all its messy, beautiful complexity.













3. Spring Breakers (2013, US, Harmony Korine)

Seriously??? I’m not sure ‘serious’ is a word that could ever be used to describe Spring Breakers and writer/director Harmony Korine fools nobody with its pretensions towards being an elegy to the wanton excesses of youth. What we’re actually shown is a knowingly trashy satire that celebrates vacuity and hedonism for its own sake and leaves those of us beyond a certain age to question whether today’s kids will be in on the joke. Are there really those who consider Britney Spears one of the great poets of our times? Worryingly I suspect there may be. James Franco is in ripely hammy form as the braided, blinged-up gangsta who leads our scantily clad young heroines unto temptation.










2. The Place Beyond the Pines (2013, US, Derek Cianfrance)


At the start of The Place Beyond the Pines there’s a long handheld tracking shot that follows Ryan Gosling through a fairground, consciously reminiscent one suspects of the start of Touch of Evil, that gives the first hint Derek Cianfrance’s third feature is not the straightforward, naturalistic film one might expect from the director of Blue Valentine. What unfolds instead is a sprawling cross- generational epic, in three distinct acts, about the sins of fathers returning upon both they and their sons. It’s audacity, evocative of the operatic styling of Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, left me completely stunned even as my bladder strained with the film’s unexpected length. Cianfrance breaks the rules, and maybe it doesn’t completely satisfy, but I’d rather live in a world where filmmakers take chances than not.









1. The Selfish Giant (2013, UK, Clio Barnard)

Call me dense, many would, but I couldn’t quite see the connection with Oscar Wilde’s short story (it’s years since I read it). However, there’s a poetry to Clio Barnard’s social-realist fable that recalls Ken Loach at his most gut-wrenching. It tells the tale of Arbor and Swifty, two teenage tearaways living on an impossibly bleak housing estate in Bradford, who skip school to earn money scavenging scrap metal to a dodgy dealer Kitten (Sean Gilder), who becomes a surrogate father of the worst kind. When Swifty, the bigger and more sensitive of the boys, shows an aptitude for racing Kitten’s pony traps in illegal races it causes a rift with Arbor’s venal sensibilities, leading to a tragic denouement and a redemptive finale that left me in tears.


The performances Barnard coaxes from her two juvenile leads are a revelation. Cinema that is genuinely humane, without recourse to sentimentality, is in danger of becoming a lost art. It requires an understanding of character and environment that the commercial mainstream simply won’t invest in. Thankfully there are still a few filmmakers left willing to bear that torch.









418 films, in a long list....

  1. Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (1981, Japan, Shinji Sômai)
  2. Matou a Família e Foi ao Cinema [Killed the Family and Went to the Movies] (1969,  Brazil, Julio Bressane)
  3. A Moment of Innocence (1996, Iran, Mohsen Makmahlbaf)
  4. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010, UK/Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
  5. Martha Marcy May Marlene (2012, US, Sean Durkin)
  6. McCullin (2012, UK, Jacqui & David Morris)
  7. The Impossible (2012, Spain, Juan Antonio Bayona)
  8. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012, US, Marc Webb)
  9. The Eye (2002, HK/Singapore, Pang Brothers)
  10. Up (2009, US, Pete Docter)
  11. The Cruel Sea (1953, UK, Charles Frend)
  12. Close-Up (1990, Iran, Abbas Kiarostami)
  13. The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970, UK, Kevin Billington)
  14. Floating Weeds (1959, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  15. A Royal Affair (2012, Denmark/Sweden, Nikolaj Arcel)
  16. Akira (1988, Japan, Katsuhiro Otomo)
  17. Bonjour tristesse (1958, US, Otto Preminger)
  18. Early Summer (1951, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  19. Django Unchained (2012, US, Quentin Tarantino)
  20. A Chump at Oxford (1940, US, Alfred J Goulding)
  21. High and Low (1963, Japan, Akira Kurosawa)
  22. Twenty-Four Eyes (1954, Japan, Keisuke Kinoshita)
  23. The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1938, Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi)
  24. The Hurt Locker (2008, US, Kathryn Bigelow)
  25. Snow White and the Huntsman (2012, US/UK, Rupert Sanders)
  26. Les Miserables (2012, UK, Tom Hooper)
  27. Lincoln (2012, US, Steven Spielberg)
  28. Zero Dark Thirty (2012, US, Kathryn Bigelow)
  29. Missing (1982, US, Costa-Gavras)
  30. Welcome to Sarajevo (1997, UK, Michael Winterbottom)
  31. Joy of Madness (2003, Iran, Hana Makhmalbaf)
  32. Osaka Elegy (1936, Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi)
  33. Green Zone (2010, UK/France/US, Paul Greengrass)
  34. Bronco Bullfrog (1969, UK, Barney Platts-Mills)
  35. Pressure (1975, UK, Horace Ove)
  36. The Dam Busters (1955, UK, Michael Anderson)
  37. Sisters of the Gion (1936, Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi)
  38. Pretty in Pink (1986, US, Howard Deutch)
  39. Nostalgia for the Light
  40. Ted (2012, US, Seth MacFarlane)
  41. The Road (2009, US, John Hillcoat)
  42. Deep Blue Sea (2011, UK, Terence Davies)
  43. Wisconsin Death Trip (1999, UK/US, James Marsh)
  44. Dan in Real Life (2007, US, Peter Hedges)
  45. Flight (2012, US, Robert Zemeckis)
  46. Hitchcock (2012, US, Sacha Gervasi)
  47. Skyfall (2012, UK, Sam Mendes)
  48. The Infidel (2010, UK, Josh Appignanesi)
  49. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy (2004, US, Adam McKay)
  50. The Hangover (2009, US, Todd Phillips)
  51. Due Date (2010, US, Todd Phillips)
  52. Step Brothers (2008, US, Adam McKay)
  53. The Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures (1976, Brazil, Marcelo Motta)
  54. Mr Deeds Goes to Town (1936, US, Frank Capra)
  55. Meet John Doe  (1941, US, Frank Capra)
  56. No (2012, Chile, Pablo Larrain)
  57. Cloud Atlas (2012, Germany, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski)
  58. Stoker (2012, US/UK, Park Wan-wook)
  59. Finding Nemo (2003, US, Andrew Stanton)
  60. Monsters, Inc (2001, US, Pete Docter)
  61. Tabu (1931, US, FW Murnau)
  62. An Autumn Afternoon (1962, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  63. A Hen in the Wind (1948, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  64. The Mirror (1975, Soviet Union, Andrei Tarkovsky)
  65. Equinox Flower (1958, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  66. Revenge of the Zombies (1943, US, Steve Sekely)
  67. Nightmare (1956, US, Maxwell Shane)
  68. Howl (2010, US, Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman)
  69. Early Spring (1956, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  70. Tokyo Twilight (1957, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  71. There Was a Father (1942, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  72. Tokyo-Ga (1985, US/West Germany, Wim Wenders)
  73. Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013, US, Sam Raimi)
  74. Akasen Chitai [Street of Shame] (1956, Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi)
  75. Made in Dagenham (2010, UK, Nigel Cole)
  76. Yokihi [Yang Kwei Fei] (1955, Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi)
  77. Days of Youth (1929, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  78. I’ve Loved You So Long (2008, France/Canada, Philippe Claudel)
  79. Despicable Me (2010, US, Chris Renaud & Pierre Coffin)
  80. Superbad (2007, US, Greg Mottola)
  81. Chikamatsu Monogatari [The Crucified Lovers] (1954, Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi)
  82. World Trade Center (2006, US, Oliver Stone)
  83. The Big Red One (US, 1980, Sam Fuller)
  84. Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (1941, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  85. Tokyo Story (1953, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  86. Side Effects (2013, US, Steven Soderbergh)
  87. Welcome to the Punch (2013, UK, Eran Creevy)
  88. Record of a Tenement Gentleman (1947, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  89. The Green Slime (1968, Japan/US, Kinji Fukasaku)
  90. An Actor’s Revenge (1963, Japan, Kon Ichikawa)
  91. War of the Worlds (2005, US, Steven Spielberg)
  92. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005, US, Scott Derrickson)
  93. The Paperboy (2012, US, Lee Daniels)
  94. Broken (2012, US, Rufus Norris)
  95. Late Spring (1949, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  96. The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1953, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  97. Imitation of Life (1959, US, Douglas Sirk)
  98. The Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006, US, Kirby Dick)
  99. Walk Cheerfully (1930, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  100.  Kuroneko (1968, Japan, Kaneto Shindo)
  101. Trance (2013, UK, Danny Boyle)
  102. Sunshine (2007, UK, Danny Boyle)
  103.  Point Break (1991, US, Kathryn Bigelow)
  104. Taken (2008, France, Pierre Morel)
  105. The Devils (1971, UK, Ken Russell)
  106.  London to Brighton (2006, UK, Paul Andrew Williams)
  107.  Holiday (1938, US, George Cukor)
  108.  The End of Summer (1961, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  109.  Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987, UK, Stephen Frears)
  110.  Teorema [Theorem] (968, Italy, Pier Paolo Pasolini)
  111. 127 Hours (2010, UK/US, Danny Boyle)
  112. The Place Beyond the Pines (2013, US, Derek Cianfrance)
  113.  The Killer Inside Me (2010, US, Michael Winterbottom)
  114.  A Cock and Bull Story (2005, UK, Michael Winterbottom)
  115.  24 Hour Party People (2002, UK, Michael Winterbottom)
  116.  9 Songs (2004, UK, Michael Winterbottom)
  117. The Look of Love (2013, UK, Michael Winterbottom)
  118.  West End Jungle(1964, UK, Arnold L. Miller)
  119.  A Hijacking [Karpringen] (2012, Denmark, Tobias Lindholm)
  120.  Robo-Geisha (2009, Japan, Noboru Iguchi)
  121.  Panic in the Streets (1950, US, Elia Kazan)
  122.  Pumping Iron (1977, US, George Butler & Robert Flore)
  123.  On the Waterfront (1954, US, Elia Kazan)
  124.  Corman’s World (2011, US, Alex Stapleton)
  125.  Kill Keith (2011, UK, Andy Thompson)
  126.  “Hush.. Hush, Sweet Charlotte” (1964, US, Robert Aldrich)
  127.  Occupied Palestine (1981, US, David Koff)
  128.  Salo (1975, Italy, Pier Paolo Pasolini)
  129.  Iron Man 3 (2013, US, Shane Black)
  130.  Sex and Fury (1973, Japan, Noribumi Suzuki)
  131.  The Lady (2011, France/UK, Luc Besson)
  132.  The Colour of Pomegranates (1968, USSR, Sergei Parajanov) 
  133.  Lunacy (2005, Czech Republic, Jan Svankmajer)
  134.  Vampyros Lesbos (1971, West Germany/Spain, Jesus Franco)
  135.  Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013, US, J.J. Abrams)
  136.  Moby Dick (2013, US, Trey Stokes)
  137.  Versus (2000, Japan, Ryuhei Kitamura)
  138.  Pink Flamingos (1972, US, John Waters)
  139.  The Great Gatsby (2013, US, Baz Luhrmann)
  140.  Sightseers (2012, UK, Ben Wheatley)
  141.  The Warriors (1979, US, Walter Hill)
  142.  The Monk (2011, France/Spain, Dominik Moll)
  143.  Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010, UK, Mat Whitecross)
  144.  The Good Die Young (1954, UK, Lewis Gilbert)
  145.  Be Kind Rewind (2008, US, Michel Gondry)
  146.  Wall Street (1987, US, Oliver Stone)
  147.  Wall Street - Money Never Sleeps (2010, US, Oliver Stone)
  148.  L’Enfant Sauvage [The Whild Child] (1970, France, Francois Truffaut)
  149.  The Agronomist (2004, US, Jonathan Demme)
  150.  Gimme Shelter (1970, US, Albert & David Maysles)
  151.  Cries and Whispers (1972, Sweden, Ingmar Bergman)
  152.  Crimson Wings [Kurenai no Tsubasa] (1958, Japan, Ko Nakahira)
  153.  Season of the Sun [Taiyō no kisetsu] (1956, Japan, Takumi Furukawa)
  154.  Suzaki Paradise: Red Signal (1956, Japan, Yuzo Kawashima)
  155.  The Woman from the Sea (1959, Japan, Koreyoshi Kurahara)
  156.  Monday Girl [Getsuyoubi No Yuka] (1964, Japan, Ko Nakaira)
  157.  Black Tight Killers [Ore ni Sawaru to Abunaize] (1966, Japan, Yasuharu Hasebe)
  158.  Koyaanisqatsi (1983, US, Godfrey Reggio)
  159.  Headhunters (2011, Norway, Morten Tyldum) 
  160.  The Purge (2013, US, James DeMonaco)
  161.  The Iceman (2013, US, Ariel Vromen)
  162.  Fighting Elegy [Kenka erejii] (1966, Japan, Seijun Suzuki)
  163.  The Man Who Caused a Storm [Arashi o Yobu Otoko] (1957, Japan, Umetsugu Inoue)
  164.  I Look Up When I Walk [Ue o muite arukou] (1962, Japan, Toshio Masuda)
  165.  Munich (2005, US, Steven Spielberg)
  166.  Gasland (2010, US, Josh Fox)
  167.  Some Girls Do (1969, UK, Ralph Thomas)
  168.  I Could go on Singing (1963, UK, Ronald Neame)
  169.  Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly (1970, Uk, Freddie Francis)
  170.  This, That and the Other (1970, UK, Derek Ford)
  171.  All the Way Up (1970, UK, James MacTaggart)
  172.  Behind the Candelabra (2013, US, Steven Soderbergh)
  173.  World War Z (2013, US, Marc Foster)
  174.  Underground (1928, UK, Anthony Asquith)
  175.  Down Terrace (2010, UK, Ben Wheatley)
  176.  A Field in England (2013, UK, Ben Wheatley)
  177.  What Became of Jack and Jill? (UK, 1972, Bill Bain)
  178.  Man of Steel (2013, US, Zach Snyder)
  179.  Fear X (2003, Denmark/UK, Nicolas Winding Refn)
  180.  The Blood Beast Terror (1967, UK, Vernon Sewell)
  181.  The Turin Horse [A torinói ló] (2011, Hungary, Béla Tarr)
  182.  The Bad Sleep Well [Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru] (1960, Japan, Akira Kurosawa)
  183.  Branded to Kill (1967, Japan, Seijun Suzuki)
  184.  Pacific Rim (2013, US, Guillermo del Toro)
  185.  The Bling Ring (2013, US, Sofia Coppola)
  186.  The Act of Killing (2012, Denmark/Norway/UK, Joshua Oppenheimer)
  187.  Wadjda (2012, Saudi Arabia/Germany, Haifaa al Mansour)
  188.  The Puffy Chair (2005, US, Jay & Marc Duplass)
  189.  The World’s End (2013, UK, Edgar Wright)
  190.  The L-Shaped Room (1962, Bryan Forbes, UK)
  191.  Piggy (2012, UK, Kieron Hawkes)
  192.  Les Enfants Terribles (1950, France, Jean-Pierre Melville)
  193.  Stray Dog (1949, Japan, Akira Kurosawa)
  194.  Wild Style (1983, US, Charlie Ahearn)
  195.  Carry On Camping (1969, UK, Gerald Thomas)
  196.  Phantom Punch (2008, US, Robert Townsend)
  197.  The Wolverine (2013, US, James Mangold)
  198.  The Hunger Games (2012, US, Gary Ross)
  199.  Frances Ha (2012, US, Noah Baumbach)
  200.  Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, US, Steven Spielberg)
  201.  Rocky Balboa (2006, US, Sylvester Stallone) 
  202.  From Up on Poppy Hill [Kokuriko-zaka Kara] (2011, Japan, Gorō Miyazaki)
  203.  The Conjuring (2013, US, James Wan)
  204.  Only God Forgives (2013, US, Nicolas Winding Refn)
  205.  Right at Your Door (2006, US, Chris Gorak)
  206.  CB4 (1993, US, Tamra Davis)
  207.  Lock Up Your Daughters! (1969, UK, Peter Coe)
  208.  Alpha Papa (2013, UK, Declan Lowney)
  209.  Why We Fight (2005, US, Eugene Jarecki)
  210.  This is Not a Film [In film nist] (2012, Iran, Jafar Panahi)
  211.  Super 8 (2011, US, J.J. Abrams)
  212.  Tiger Bay (1959, UK, J. Lee Thompson)
  213.  Baby Doll (1956, US, Elia Kazan)
  214.  Pardon Us (1931, US, James Parrott)
  215.  Battle of the Sexes (2013, UK/US, James Erskine)
  216.  Dead Creatures (2001, UK, Andrew Parkinson)
  217.  Drunken Angel [Yoidore tenshi] (1948, Japan, Akira Kurosawa)
  218.  The House I Live In (2012, US, Eugene Jarecki)
  219.  Ice Cold in Alex (1958, UK, J. Lee Thompson)
  220.  Carry On Screaming (1966, UK, Gerald Thomas)
  221.  The Wicked Lady (1945, UK, Leslie Arliss)
  222.  Pack Up Your Troubles (1932, US, George Marshall & Raymond McCarey)
  223.  Macbeth (1948, US, Orson Welles)
  224.  Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972, US, Woody Allen)
  225.  Inherit the Wind (1960, US, Stanley Kramer)
  226.  The Cocoanuts (1929, US, Robert Florey & Joseph Santley)
  227.  What Happened to Kerouac? (1986, US, Richard Lerner & Lewis MacAdams)
  228.  The Way Ahead (1944, UK, Carol Reed)
  229.  Carve Her Name with Pride (1958, UK, Lewis Gilbert)
  230.  Went the Day Well? (1942, UK, Alberto Cavalcanti)
  231.  Millions Like Us (1943, UK, Sidney Gilliat & Frank Launder)
  232.  The Wooden Horse (1950, UK, Jack Lee)
  233.  Elysium (2013, US, Neill Blomkamp)
  234.  Project Nim (2011, UK, James Marsh)
  235.  Blackfish (2013, US, Gabriela Cowperthwaite)
  236.  Sons of the Desert (1933, US, William A. Sowter)
  237.  Jassy (1947, UK, Bernard Knowles)
  238.  Upstream Color (2013, US, Shane Carruth)
  239.  Vidal Sassoon: The Movie (2010, US, Craig Teper)
  240.  We Have a Pope [Habemus Papam] (2011, Italy, Nanni Moretti)
  241.  Nostalghia (1983, Soviet Union/Italy, Andrei Tarkovsky)
  242.  Il Divo (2008, Italy, Paolo Sorrentino)
  243.  Tabu (2012, Portugal, Miguel Gomes)
  244.  Heart of the Matter (1953, UK, George More O’Ferrall)
  245.  You’re Next (2011, US, Adam Wingard)
  246.  The Family Friend [L'amico di famiglia] (2006, Italy, Paolo Sorrentino)
  247.  This Must Be the Place (2011, Italy, Paolo Sorrentino)
  248.  Rapt (2009, France, Lucas Belvaux)
  249.  The Great Beauty (2013, Italy, Paolo Sorrentino)
  250.  Give Us the Moon (1944, UK, Val Guest)
  251.  The Consequences of Love [Le conseguenze dell'amore] (2004, Italy, Paolo Sorrentino)
  252.  Third Contact (2012, UK, Simon Horrocks)
  253.  Rome, Open City (1945, Italy, Robert Rossellini) 
  254.  The Stuart Hall Project (2013, UK, John Akomfrah)
  255.  Rush (2013, US, Ron Howard)
  256.  Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, US/UK, David Lean)
  257.  Enemy at the Gates (2001, France/Germany/Uk/Ireland/US, Jean-Jacques Annaud)
  258.  The Most Dangerous Man in America (2009, US, Judith Ehrlich & Rick Goldsmith)
  259.  A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929, UK, Anthony Asquith)
  260.  The Corporation (2003, Canada, Mark Achbar & Jennifer Abbott)
  261.  Panic in Needle Park (1971, US, Jerry Schatzberg)
  262.  Colossal Youth [Juventude em Marcha] (2006, Portugal, Pedro Costa)
  263.  Bank Holiday (1938, UK, Carol Reed)
  264.  The Boys (1962, UK, Sidney J. Furie)
  265.  Roma (1972, Italy, Federico Fellini)
  266.  Memento Mori (1992, UK, Jack Clayton)
  267.  Jack Reacher (2012, US, Christopher McQuarrie)
  268.  Soy Cuba [I am Cuba] (1964, Soviet Union/Cuba, Mikhail Kalatozov)
  269.  HIghly Dangerous (1950, UK, Roy Ward Baker)
  270.  Kes (1969, UK, Ken Loach)
  271.  Quartet (2012, UK, Dustin Hoffman)
  272.  Olympus Has Fallen (2013, US, Antoine Fuqua)
  273.  The Fallen Idol (1948, UK, Carol Reed)
  274.  The Man in Grey (1943, UK, Leslie Arliss)
  275.  A Quiet Place in the Country [Un tranquillo posto di campagna] (1968, Italy, Elio Petri)
  276.  Horrors of Malformed Men Edogawa Rampo Zenshū: Kyoufu Kikei Ningen] (1969, Japan, Teruo Ishii)
  277.  Kairo [Pulse]; (2001, Japan, Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
  278.  Boy [Shōnen] (1969, Japan, Nagisa Oshima)
  279.  Harakiri [Seppuku] (1964, Japan, Masaki Kobayashi)
  280.  Graveyard of Honor [Jingi no hakaba] (1975, Japan, Kinji Fukusaku)
  281.  God Told Me To (1976, US, Larry Cohen)
  282.  Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973, US, Richard Blackburn)
  283.  Escape! (1930, UK, Basil Dean)
  284.  Hungry Hill (1947, UK, Brian Desmond Hurst)
  285.  Love Story (1944, UK, Leslie Arliss)
  286.  Cardboard Cavalier (1949, UK, Walter Forde)
  287.  A Place of One’s Own (1945, UK, Bernad Knowles)
  288.  The Stars Look Down (1940, UK, Carol Reed)
  289.  Bedelia (1946, UK, Lance Comfort)
  290.  Cast a Dark Shadow (1955, UK, Lewis Gilbert)
  291.  Penny Paradise (1938, UK, Carol Reed)
  292.  Undefeated (2011, US, Daniel Lindsay/T.J. Martin)
  293.  Crumb (1994, US, Terry Zwigoff)
  294.  The Hunt (2012, Denmark, Thomas Vinterberg)
  295.  What Richard Did (2012, Ireland, Lenny Abrahamson)
  296.  I, Anna (2012, UK/Germany/France, Barnaby Southcombe)
  297.  Halloween II (1981, US, Rick Rosenthal)
  298.  Chaser (2008, South Korea, Na Hong-jin)
  299.  Baise-Moi (2000, France, Virginie Despentes/Coralie Trinh Thi)
  300.  Gaslight (1940, UK, Thorold Dickinson)
  301.  Prisoners (2013, US, Denis Villeneuve)
  302.  Sunshine on Leith (2013, UK, Dexter Fletcher)
  303.  Filth (2013, UK, John S. Baird)
  304.  Ran (1985, Japan/France, Akira Kurosawa)
  305.  Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011, US, Michael Bay)
  306.  Jánošík (1921, Slovakia, Jaroslav Jerry Siakeľ)
  307.  Vigilante (1982, US, William Lustig)
  308.  Trumbo (2007, US, Peter Askin)
  309.  The Yellow Sea (2010, South Korea, Na Hong-jin)
  310.  The Fifth Estate (2013, US, Bill Condon)
  311.  Blue Jasmine (2013, US, Woody Allen)
  312.  Captain Phillips (2013, US, Paul Greengrass) 

  •  The Psychopath (1966, UK, Freddie Francis)
  •  The Skull (1965, Freddie Francis, Freddie Francis)
  •  The House at the End of the Street (2012, US, Mark Tonderai)
  •  Escape Plan (2013, US,Mikael Håfström>)
  • Bobby Fischer Against the World (2011, US, Liz Garbus)
  •  Child’s Play (1988, US, Tom Holland)
  •  Hard Candy (2005, US, David Slade) 
  •  The Selfish Giant (2013, UK, Clio Barnard) 
  •  Like Someone in Love (2012, France/Jaan, Abbas Kiarostami)
  •  The Intruder (1962, US, Roger Corman)
  •  People on Sunday [Menschen am Sonntag] (1930, Germany, Robert Siodmak)
  •  The Reconstruction (1970, Greece, Theo Angelopoulos
  •  The Passion of Joan of Arc [La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc] (1928, France, Carl Theodor Dreyer) 
  •  Man with a Movie Camera  [Chelovek s kinoapparatom](1929, Soviet Union, Dziga Vertov)
  •  The Hunter (2011, Australia, Daniel Nettheim)
  •  Identity (2003, US, James Mangold)
  •  Kuhle Wampe (1932, Germany, Slatan Dudow)
  •  The Crimson Rivers (2000, France, Mathieu Kassovitz)
  •  Shame (2011, UK, Steve McQueen)
  •  The Phantom Carriage (1921, Sweden, Victor Sjöström)
  •  Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013, US, John Luessenhop)
  •  On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969, UK, Peter R. Hunt)
  •  The Devil’s Rejects (2005, US, Rob Zombie)
  •  Before Sunrise (1995, US, Richard Linklater)
  •  Before Sunset (2004, US, Richard Linklater)
  •  Au Hasard Balthazar (1966, France, Robert Bresson)
  •  Fanny and Alexander (1982, Sweden, Ingmar Bergman)
  •  Le Week-End (2013, UK, Roger Michell)
  •  Bande a Part (1964, France, Jean-Luc Godard)
  •  Before Midnight (2013, US, Richard Linklater)
  •  Thor: The Dark World (2013, US, Alan Taylor)
  •  Philomena (2013, UK/US/France, Stephen Frears)
  •  Dead Presidents (1995, US, Allen Hughes/Albert Hughes)
  •  Footprints on the Moon [La orme] (1975, Italy, Mario Fanelli)
  •  Born & Bred [Nacido y criado] (2006, Argentina, Pablo Trapero)
  •  A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman (2012, UK, Bill Jones/Jeff Simpson/Ben Timlett)
  •  Seduced and Abandoned (2013, US, James Toback)
  •  Bullhead (2011, Belgium, Michaël R. Roskam)
  •  The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006, Ireland/UK/Germany/Italy/Spain/France/Belgium/Switzerland, Ken Loach)
  •  Gravity (2013, US, Alfonso Cuarón)
  •  Godzilla [Gojira] (1954, Japan, Ishiro Honda)
  •  Fear Eats the Soul [Angst essen Seele auf] (1974, West Germany, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
  •  Katalin Varga (2009, Romania/UK, Peter Strickland)
  •  Wuthering Heights (2011, UK, Andrea Arnold)
  •  The Butler (2013, US, Lee Daniels)
  •  In Fear (2013, UK, Jeremy Lovering)
  •  Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013, France/Belgium/Spain, Abdellatif Kechiche) 
  •  The Face at the Window (1939, UK, George King)
  •  The Lodger (1944, US, John Brahm)
  •  Leviathan (2012, US, Lucien Castaing Taylor/Verena Paravel)
  •  Sweetgrass (2009, US, Lucien Castaing Taylor)
  •  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013, US, Francis Lawrence)
  •  Singin’ in the Rain (1952, US, Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly)
  •  Three Colours Blue (1993, France/Poland/Switzerland, Krzystof Kieslowski)
  •  Three Colours White (1994, France/Poland/Switzerland, Krzystof Kieslowski)
  •  Three Colours Red (1994, France/Poland/Switzerland, Krzystof Kieslowski)
  •  Lola (1961, France, Jacques Demy)
  •  Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967, France, Jacques Demy)
  •  Metropolis (2001, Japan, Rintaro)
  •  Tokyo Gore Police (2008, Japan, Yoshihiro Nishimura)
  •  Spring Breakers (2013, US, Harmony Korine)
  •  Saving Mr Banks (2013, US, John Lee Hancock)
  •  Involuntary (2008, Sweden, Ruben Östland
  •  A Woman Under the Influence (1974, US, John Cassavetes) 
  •  Kill Your Darlings (2013, US, John Krokidas)
  •  Blood On Satan’s Claw (1971, UK, Piers Haggard)
  •  Dead of Night (1945, UK, Alberto Cavalcanti/Robert Hamer/Charles Crichton/Basil Dearden)
  •  Nebraska (2013, US, Alexander Payne)
  •  Semi-Pro (2008 US, Kent Alterman)
  •  Haxan (1922, Sweden/Denmark, Benjamin Christensen)
  •  Mud (2012, US, Jeff Nichols)
  •  Winter’s Bone (2010, US, Debra Granik)
  •  Beyond the Hills (2012, Romania, Cristian Mungiu)
  •  Elf (2003, US, Jon Favreau)
  •  I Wish [Kiseki] (2011, Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda)
  •  Anchorman 2 (2013, US, Adam McKay)
  •  Seven Murders for Scotland Yard (1971, Italy/Spain, José Luis Madrid)
  •  Stories We Tell (2012, Canada, Sarah Polley)
  •  Ink (2009, US, Jamin Winans)
  •  The History Boys (2006, UK, Nicholas Hynter)
  •  Throne of Blood (1957, Japan, Akira Kurosawa)
  •  Oblivion (2013, US, Joseph Kosinski)
  •  The Only Son (1936, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
  •  God Speed You! Black Emperor (1976, Japan, Mitsuo Yanagimachi)
  •  The H Man [Bijo to Ekitainingen] (1958, Japan, Eijii Tsuburaya & Ishiro Honda)
  •  No Regrets for Our Youth (1946, Japan, Akira Kurosawa)
  •  Giants and Toys [Kyojin to gangu] (1958, Japan, Yasuzo Masumura)
  •  The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959, Japan, Masaki Kobayashi)
  •  The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (1959, Japan, Masaki Kobayashi)
  •  The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (1961, Japan, Masaki Kobayashi)
  •  Lady Snowblood [Shurayukihime] (1973, Japan, Toshiya Fujita)
  •  The Black Camel (1931, US, Hamilton MacFadden)
  •  Alone Across the Pacific [Taiheiyo hitori-botchi] (1963, Japan, Kon Ichikawa)
  •  Gate of Hell [Jigokumon] (1953, Japan, Teinosuke Kinugasa)
  •  Tokyo Olympiad [Tōkyō Orinpikku] (1965, Japan, Kon Ichikawa)
  •  47 Ronin [Shijūshichinin no shikaku] (1994, Japan, Kon Ichikawa)
  •  Whisky Galore! (1949, UK, Alexander Mackendrick)
  •  Rogue (2007, Australia, Greg McLean)
  •  Sexton Blake and the Hooded Terror (1938, UK, George King)
  •  The Living Skeleton [Kyuketsu Dokurosen] (1968, Japan, Hiroshi Matsuno)
  •  The Blind Woman’s Curse [Kaidan Nobori Ryū] (1970, Japan, Teruo Ishii)
  •  Silence [Chinmoku] (1971, Japan, Masahiro Shinoda)
  •  Le Skylab (2011, France, Julie Delpy)
  •  All is Lost (2013 US, J.C. Chandor)
  •  Bullet Ballet (1998, Japan, Shinya Tsukamoto)
  •  Robot & Frank (2012, US, Jake Schreier)