LONDON — Carol Reed’s “The Third Man” has been voted the top British film of all time in a poll of the U.K. film industry conducted by the British Film Institute.
The BFI’s list of 100 favorite Brit pics anoints David Lean as the leading director, with six entries in total, and a remarkable three films in the top five.
Alec Guinness emerges as the BFI 100’s biggest star, with nine films on the list. Michael Caine nabs second place with seven, and Julie Christie confirms her iconic status with six.
Lean 30 years
Only one film from the 1990s, Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting,” made the top 10. It is one of just four pics made since 1970 to appear in the top 20.
Lean’s “Brief Encounter” comes in at No. 2, “Lawrence of Arabia” at three and “Great Expectations” at five. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 suspenser “The 39 Steps,” the oldest film on the list, is in fourth.
Following closely behind Lean, Michael Powell makes five appearances, four as co-director with Emeric Pressburger and one solo. “The Red Shoes” is his highest entry at No. 9.
Other multiple entrants are John Schlesinger, four pics, and Tony Richardson and Alexander Mackendrick, three apiece).
There are no female directors on the list.
The most recent pics selected are “Shakespeare in Love” (No. 49), “Elizabeth” (No. 71) and “My Name Is Joe” (No. 91), all from 1998.
Double 007 entry
Sean Connery is the only James Bond who rates a mention, with “Dr. No” (41) and “Goldfinger” (70) the only two entries from the British film industry’s most successful franchise.
Black-and-white films occupy four of the top five places, but only 20 of the remaining 95.
BFI director John Woodward commented, “The BFI 100 pays tribute to the wonderful filmmakers and talent who have produced imaginative, innovative and enjoyable films through the decades, and this project reminds us that we have a film culture in Britain of which we should be immensely proud.”
But he added that the list should not be regarded as “definitive,” but only as “the starting point for discussion.”
The BFI polled 1,000 people in the film industry, from creative talent to distribs, exhibs, critics, journalists, academics and politicians. They were given a list of 300 “culturally British” films and were asked to assess which of them had made “a strong and lasting impression.” Respondents were allowed to vote for up to 100 films, and to add ones not on the BFI’s suggested list.
A total of 25,700 votes were cast, covering 820 different films.