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BFI Player Classics Launch Titles Announced

The British Film Institute’s BFI Player Classics streaming service is launching next Friday, May 14, 2021 in the U.S. The service features a curated and prestigious Subscription Video On Demand collection of classic British cinema specifically for the American market.

The platform will debut with a collection of over 200 British or British co-production films picked by BFI experts. The standard offer for BFI Player Classics in the U.S. will be a 7-day free trial followed by $5.99 per month.

BFI Player Classics Launch Titles Announced

The BFI Player Classics catalogue features films and filmmakers that demonstrate some of the greatest innovation in British filmmaking, including auteurs and mavericks such as Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell, Ken Russell and Ken Loach. It also includes a number of ground-breaking British filmmakers who pushed the boundaries of cinema, pioneering the exploration and representation of issues such as race, gender, sexuality and disability that couldn’t be more pertinent in 2021.

Look for titles from such talent as Horace Ové (Pressure, 1975), Laura Mulvey (Riddles of the Sphinx, 1977), Ron Peck (Nighthawks, 1978 and Strip Jack Naked, 1991); Menelik Shabazz (Burning an Illusion, 1981), Sally Potter (The Gold Diggers, 1983), Gurinder Chadha (I’m British But… 1989), Waris Hussein (Sixth Happiness, 1997), and John Akomfrah (Speak Like a Child, 1998).

The streaming platform will also host a number of titles not currently available across any other USA SVOD service, including The Lion in Winter (Anthony Harvey, 1968), I’m All Right Jack (John Boulting, 1959), Dunkirk (Leslie Norman, 1958), Went the Day Well? (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1942), Ice Cold in Alex (J. Lee Thompson, 1958), Whisky Galore! (Alexander Mackendrick, 1949), and more.

For ease in browsing, the catalogue is presented in both genre-based collections (e.g. British Classics, Comedy, Romance, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Horror, Thriller & Mystery, Period & History, Cult Classics, Documentary and Family) and thematic collections including Britons in Battle, Great British Icons, Sex, Based on the Book, Crime & Punishment and Woman with a Movie Camera.

BFI PLAYER CLASSICS TITLES

FOR FANS OF BRITISH CLASSICS

The Ladykillers directed by Alexander Mackendrick (1955), Oscar Nominee for Best Screenplay.
– Recently released in 4K in the UK with good, select, fanfare.
– Included in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list and BFI’s Top 100 British Films list and a beloved favourite (with Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers).

The Third Man directed by Carol Reed (1949), Oscar Winner for Best Cinematography and Nominee for Directing and Editing.
– Noir classic with Orson Welles and Number 1 in BFI’s Top 100 British Films list.

The Servant directed by Joseph Losey (1963), Winner of 3 BAFTAS (Best Actor, Best Cinematography and Most Promising Newcomer to lead James Fox).
– Included in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and BFI’s Top 100 British Films list.

Brighton Rock directed by John Boulting (1948)
– Classic gangster film noir starring Richard Attenborough (was released as Young Scarface in the U.S.)

FOR FANS OF SCI-FI/HORROR

The Wicker Man directed by Robin Hardy (1973)
– Folk horror film starring Christopher Lee which still receives critical praise to this day and is hailed as one of the best horror films of all time.

The Man Who Fell to Earth directed by Nicolas Roeg (1976)
– Science fiction film starring David Bowie (in his first feature film) which garnered a cult following for its surreal imagery.

Peeping Tom directed by Michael Powell (1960).
– A disturbing psychological thriller, the film has been ranked as the 78th greatest British film of all time by the BFI and the 27th best British film ever by Time Out magazine.

Dead Of Night directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer (1945).
– An extremely influential and entertaining portmanteau style horror film highlighting the skills of four notable directors.
Martin Scorsese ranked Dead of Night fifth on his list of the 11 scariest horror films of all time.

FOR FANS OF PERIOD FILMS

The Lion in Winter directed by Anthony Harvey (1968). Winner of three Oscars (Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium and Best Music, Original Score).
– A historical drama starring Katharine Hepburn, the film explores the struggles of the royal family of England in 1183 A.D.

Stage Beauty directed by Richard Eyre (2004).
– This period drama stars Billy Crudup and Claire Danes and is based on the play Compleat Female Stage Beauty.

The Three Musketeers directed by Richard Lester (1973). Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (Raquel Welch) and scored five BAFTA nominations (Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music).
– Based on the iconic novel by Alexandre Dumas with more than a hint of witty humor.

FOR FANS OF MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

The Disappearance of Alice Creed directed by J Blakeson (2009).
– This film noir stars Martin Compston and Gemma Arterton in early roles.
– J Blakeson recently directed the Netflix film I Care A Lot.

A Most Wanted Man directed by Anton Corbijn (2014).
– This espionage thriller film is based on John Le Carré’s novel of the same name.
– The film’s all-star cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, and Willem Dafoe, among others.

It Always Rains on Sunday directed by Robert Hamer (1947).
– An Ealing Studios thriller and an adaptation of Arthur La Bern’s novel of the same name.
– A precursor to the “kitchen-sink” cultural movement in British art.

Brighton Rock directed by John Boulting (1948)
– Classic gangster film noir starring Richard Attenborough (was released as Young Scarface in the U.S.)

The Third Man directed by Carol Reed (1949), Oscar Winner for Best Cinematography and Nominee for Directing and Editing.
– Noir classic with Orson Welles and Number 1 in BFI’s Top 100 British Films list.

FOR FANS OF CULT CLASSICS

Family Life directed by Ken Loach (1971). Nominated for the UN Award at the 1973 BAFTAs.
– Released in the United States as Wednesday’s Child, this lesser-known but still revered Ken Loach film chronicles the tension between two old-fashioned parents and their rebellious teenage daughter.

Gothic directed by Ken Russell (1987).
– This psychological horror is an edgy retelling of the Shelleys’ visit to Lord Byron.

The Lair Of The White Worm directed by Ken Russell (1988).
– Starring Hugh Grant in an early role, the film is based upon the English legend of the Lambton Worm.

Paperhouse directed by Bernard Rose (1988).
– A dark fantasy from Bernard Rose of Candyman fame, a young girl explores a surreal dream world based on a drawing in her schoolbook.

Creep directed by Christopher Smith (2004).
– A horror film set in the London Underground, a woman must fight and flee for her life against a stalker.

Love Is The Devil directed by John Maybury (1998). The film was screened and won awards at many festivals, including three at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
– An essential for art fans, this film chronicles Francis Bacon’s relationship with George Dyer.
– One of Tilda Swinton’s earlier roles and a breakout role for Daniel Craig.

FOR FANS OF DOCUMENTARIES

The Road to Guantánamo directed by Mat Whitecross and Michael Winterbottom (2006). Nominated for the BAFTA Best Single Drama award.
– A docudrama exploring the incarceration at Guantánamo Bay of British nationals captured in Afghanistan by American military forces.
– One of Academy Award nominee Riz Ahmed’s earliest roles.

The Elstree Story directed by Gilbert Gunn (1952)
– An excellent documentary for film and film production devotees, this film celebrates and gleans insight into the operations of the iconic Elstree Studios.

I’m British But… directed by Gurinder Chadha (1989).
– Despite its short 30 minute run time, this documentary offers a deep and detailed exploration of multiculturalism in the UK and a critique of nationalism.
– Propelled Chadha to become one of the most successful Asian-British filmmakers of the 1990s.

FOR FANS OF COMEDIES

Kind Hearts and Coronets directed by Robert Hamer (1949). Nominated in 1950 for BATFA Best British Film award.
– A black comedy film in which Alec Guinness plays nine different characters, setting the stage for future actors like Peter Sellers and Eddie Murphy to do the same.

Hobson’s Choice directed by David Lean (1954). Winner of the BAFTA for Best British Film.
– A Criterion Collection entry, the legendary Charles Laughton stars in this triumphant romantic comedy.

The Lavender Hill Mob directed by Charles Critchon (1951). Won an Oscar for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay and a BAFTA for Best British Film.
– An outstanding caper comedy featuring Ealing comedy icon Alec Guinness, it is ranked the 17th greatest British film of all time by the BFI.

Clockwise directed by Christopher Morahan (1986).
– Led by acclaimed comedian and actor John Cleese as a high school headmaster obsessed with punctuality.

FOR FANS OF ROMANCE

The Tales of Hoffmann directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (1951). Nominated for two Oscars (Art Direction-Set Decoration and Costume Design).
– A notable work of British cinema and an adaptation of Jacques Offenabach’s comic opera of the same name.

A Kind of Loving directed by John Schlesinger (1962). Nominated for four BAFTAs (Best British Actor, Best British Film, Best British Screenplay, Best Film from any Source).
– One of Schlesinger’s most critically acclaimed films and a notable work of the British New Wave film movement.

Darling directed by John Schlesinger (1965). Scored a Best Picture Oscar nomination as well as three wins, including for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Julie Christie). Also awarded a Golden Globe for Best English-Language Foreign Film and four BAFTAs (Best British Actor, Actress, Best British Art Direction, Best British Screenplay).
– A rich romantic drama and a famed Schlesinger film.

Flashbacks Of A Fool directed by Baillie Walsh (2008).
– Early Daniel Craig film that explores themes of loss, age, and love.

FOR FANS OF ADVENTURE/ACTION FILMS

The Three Musketeers directed by Richard Lester (1973). Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (Raquel Welch) and scored five BAFTA nominations (Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music).
– Based on the iconic novel by Alexandre Dumas with more than a hint of witty humor.

Dr. Who and the Daleks directed by Gordon Flemyng (1965).
– Based on the second serial in the series Doctor Who, which maintains a large fanbase.

FOR FANS OF FAMILY FILMS

The Belles of St. Trinian’s directed by Frank Launder (1954).
– Favorite for many, following a group of rowdy and brash schoolgirls and featuring a memorable performance from George Cole.

Tales Of Beatrix Potter directed by Reginald Mills (1971). Nominated for two BAFTAs for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
– Timeless classic based on the stories of English author Beatrix Potter and featuring iconic characters like Peter Rabbit.

Get Santa directed by Christopher Smith (2014).
– Recent British Christmas comedy with Rafe Spall and Jim Broadbent.

THEME-BASED COLLECTIONS

BRITONS IN BATTLE

Went the Day Well directed by Alberto Cavalcanti (1942).
– Serving as unofficial propaganda for the UK’s efforts in WWII, the film explores a hypothetical scenario in which an English village is invaded by Germans.

The Cruel Sea directed by Charles Frend (1953). Nominated for one Oscar (Best Writing, Screenplay) and three BAFTAs (Best British Actor, Best British Film, Best Film from any Source)
– A war drama based on a 1951 best-selling novel by a former naval officer, it is ranked 75 on the BFI’s list of the top 100 British films.

Ice Cold in Alex directed by J. Lee Thompson (1958). Nominated for four BAFTA Awards (Best Film, Best British Film, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best British Screenplay).
– Based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Christopher Landon, the film chronicles the Western Desert campaign of WWII.

GREAT BRITISH ICONS

The Ladykillers directed by Alexander Mackendrick (1955), Oscar Nominee for Best Screenplay.
– Recently released in 4K in the UK with good, select, fanfare.
– Included in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list and BFI’s Top 100 British Films list and a beloved favourite (with Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers).

The Third Man directed by Carol Reed (1949), Oscar Winner for Best Cinematography and Nominee for Directing and Editing.
– Noir classic with Orson Welles and Number 1 in BFI’s Top 100 British Films list.

Brighton Rock directed by John Boulting (1948)
– Classic gangster film noir starring Richard Attenborough (was released as Young Scarface in the U.S.)

The Man In The White Suit directed by Alexander Mackendrick (1951). Nominated for one Oscar (Best Writing, Screenplay) and two BAFTAs (Best British Film and Best Film from any Source)
– A satirical sci-fi film that comically explores the classic Ealing Studios theme of the common man fighting the larger system.

The Wicker Man directed by Robin Hardy (1973)
– Folk horror film starring Christopher Lee which still receives critical praise to this day and is hailed as one of the best horror films of all time.

The Man Who Fell to Earth directed by Nicolas Roeg (1976)
– Science fiction film starring David Bowie (in his first feature film) which garnered a cult following for its surreal imagery.

Peeping Tom directed by Michael Powell (1960).
– A disturbing psychological thriller, the film has been ranked as the 78th greatest British film of all time by the BFI and the 27th best British film ever by Time Out magazine.

UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS – THE BRITISH CLASS SYSTEM

The Fallen Idol directed by Carol Reed (1948). Nominated for two Oscars (Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay) and winner of the BAFTA Award for Best British Film in 1949.
– A suspenseful mystery thriller based on the short story “The Basement Room” (1936) by Graham Green.

I’m All Right Jack directed by John Boulting (1959). Winner of two BAFTA Awards for Best British Actor (Peter Sellers) and Best British Screenplay.
– Based on the novel Private Life by Alan Hackney, the film is a witty satire on British industrial work life in the 1950s.

The Servant directed by Joseph Losey (1963), Winner of 3 BAFTAS (Best Actor, Best Cinematography and Most Promising Newcomer to lead James Fox).
– Included in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and BFI’s Top 100 British Films list.

WOMEN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA

The Man Between also known as Berlin Story and directed by Carol Reed (1953). Starring Claire Bloom, Hildegard Knef and James Mason, who was awarded Best Actor for the film by the National Board of Review.
– A classic espionage thriller set in post-war Berlin.

The Gold Diggers directed by Sally Potter (1983). The film was featured in many international film festivals – including Berlin, where it won the ‘Zitty’ Audience Award and Florence, where it won Best Film.
– Porter’s directorial debut, this avant-garde film was made with an all-female crew.

Blue Black Permanent directed and written by Margaret Tait (1992). Nominated for two BAFTA Scotland Awards (Best Feature Film and Best Actress – Film), actress Gerda Stevenson was awarded the latter for the role of Greta Thorburn.
– A hauntingly introspective drama that reckons with themes of lost memories and death.

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