Ten best British films of all time

That’s the title of the Daily Telegraph film critic David Gritten’s article. It offers a wonderful opportunity to say, ‘what a load of tosh’. I can say that, because making a top ten list is subjective, and you can criticise other’s choices as much as you like.

How can David Gritten’s list not include, The Third Man. There’s also The Italian Job, The Ipcress File, The 39 Steps, and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp to consider. Oh, and what about Ice Cold in Alex, or Henry V, and there’s Lord of the Rings. Cripes, the possible choices are huge. Barry Norman’s top 49 is HERE, and the British Film Institute’s top 100 is HERE.

Anyway, here’s my top ten British films of all time, in date order. [Film, date, director, my reasons]

  1. The 39 Steps, 1935, Alfred Hitchcock, black and white film, taught direction and superb scene on the Forth Rail Bridge
  2. A Matter of Life and Death, 1946, Powell and Pressburger, imaginative fantasy, great casting and excellent special effects
  3. Great Expectations, 1946, David Lean, a terrific story, beautifully filmed
  4. The Third Man, 1949, Carol Reed, my choice for top film, atmospheric, great acting, great musical score
  5. Kind Hearts and Cornets, 1949, Robert Hamer, a black comedy with an acting tour-de-force by Alec Guinness
  6. The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957, David Lean, again a great story and superbly directed
  7. Dr Zhivago, 1965, David Lean, an unbeatable epic sad love story
  8. The IPCRESS File, 1965, Sidney J Furie, a gritty suspenseful spy drama
  9. The Railway Children, 1970, Lionel Jeffries, an enduringly popular adventure story
  10. Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979, Terry Jones, brilliant satirical comedy

Day 10: All along the watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

This is the end. Day 10, and the last of my favourite top ten rock songs. This last song is a true rock classic, All along the watchtower by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

After 10 days of reprising my 2007 choice of favourite rock songs, I’m all done, as they say. I would certainly make revisions to my list, preferring a fuller sound than that from a stripped down format of a trio. I enjoyed hearing all the songs again, and I hope you did too.

I couldn’t find a video of the band playing the song, so you’ll have to content yourself with this [also, pleasingly, it’s one without offensive language in the comment section].

Day 9: Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

It’s day 9 of my 10 favourite rock songs, and it’s Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin.

It was in 2007 when I compiled my list, and on reflection this is one I’d now drop. It’s a tad too lyrical and tame as a rock song. I’ve not much more to say about it now. Oh, other than frontman Robert Plant is a Wolves supporter. I couldn’t find a YouTube video, so you’ll need to click below to see this Dailymotion video.

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Day 8: The boys are back in town – Thin Lizzy

It’s day 8 of my 10 favourite rock songs, and it’s The boys are back in town by Thin Lizzy. 

Getting near the end of my ten favourite rock songs. Included in many a list of great rock songs is The boys are back in town recorded in 1976, which features a distinctive twin-guitar sound from band members, Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. Thin Lizzy were a hard living rock band during the time when guitar/vocalist Phil Lynott  lead the band. Lynott died of complications from his drug dependency aged 36. Still, a great song.

Day 7: Wonderwall – Oasis

It’s day 7 of my 10 favourite rock songs, and it’s Wonderwall by Oasis.

Perhaps not the strongest choice in my top ten rocks songs, as Wonderwall isn’t a true rock song, more Britpop. It’s in my list mostly because of Liam Gallagher’s strutting attitude at the microphone while singing the song, sadly not seen on this video.

Day 6: Layla – Derek and the Dominos

It’s day 6 of my 10 favourite rock songs, and it’s Layla by Derek and the Dominos.

Unquestionably Layla is one of rock histories finest songs. Recorded in 1970 with Eric Clapton on lead guitar and vocals, Duane Allman on slide guitar, who added the magnificent opening riff, Jim Gordon on drums, Bobby Whitlock on keyboards, and incomparably produced by Tom Dowd.

Day 5: Run to the hills – Iron Maiden

It’s day 5 of my 10 favourite rock anthems, and it’s Run to the hills by Iron Maiden.

Can you think of a better series of cords beginning a rock song, I’m not sure I can. Iron Maiden are a British ‘heavy metal’ rock band, who released ‘Run to the hills’ in 1982, soon after lead singer Bruce Dickinson joined the band.

Dickinson isn’t a typical rock band frontman. Here’s part of his Wikipedia biography,

“Dickinson holds an airline transport pilot’s licence. He regularly flew Boeing 757’s in his role as captain for the now-defunct UK charter airline Astraeus which, from 16 September 2010, employed him as Marketing Director. Following Astraeus’ closure on 21 November 2011, Dickinson branched into entrepreneurship when he launched Cardiff Aviation Ltd on 1 May 2012, an aircraft maintenance business based at the Twin Peaks Hangar in St Athan, Wales.”

Anyway, this is a classic rock anthem, and one of Iron Maiden’s fans, and my, favourites.


Day 4: My Generation – The Who

It’s day 4 of my 10 favourite rock anthems, and it’s My Generation by The Who.

Never a Stones fan, in the mid 1960’s my preference was for The Who. A genuine hard rock band, with a fast living reputation. Of the original line up of Pete Towshend, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon, and John Entwistle, only Daltrey and Townshend remain. 

This is a classic rock anthem, which never fails to evoke the urgency, anarchism, and abandon of youth. The compilation video at least has the benefit of a decent soundtrack.

Day 3: Hanging on the Telephone – Blondie

It’s day 3 of my 10 favourite rock anthems, and it’s Hanging on the Telephone by Blondie.

I know it’s a stretch to call Blondie a rock band, as their beginnings were new wave, and punk rock in character. The real reason for inclusion is simply Deborah Harry. If there’s a more visually stunning face in pop and rock history I’d like to know it. 

This is the official video of the track from their 1978 Parallel Lines album, hence the stripy background. It looks to me that Debbie is lip syncing. Never mind, I like it.

Day 2: Ace of Spades – Motörhead

It’s day 2 of my 10 favourite rock anthems, and it’s Ace of Spades by Motörhead.

Released in 1980, Ace of Spades is the definitive Motörhead anthem. It’s brash, fast, loud, and raucous. A true classic heavy metal style rock song. The three bands members, Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister vocal and bass,  Eddie ‘Fast Eddie’ Clarke guitar, and Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor drums, make one helluva noise. Again this YouTube video, while not up to the quality or the popularity of later versions, has the necessary raw energy.

In 2007 I wrote here about Fast Eddie being mentioned in a parliamentary debate, and Lemmy is wont to relate the importance of the West Midlands in heavy metal rock history.