Photo by Adrienne Pitts

Edgar Wright

The director, writer and actor known for Baby Driver, Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End picks 10 favourites including Pink String and Sealing Wax, The Halfway House, The Small World of Sammy Lee, Went the Day Well?, Darling, Dead of Night and That’ll Be the Day.

It Always Rains On Sunday

The StudioCanal Vintage Classics range shows the noir-ish flipside to Ealing Studios; a perfect example is Robert Hamer’s post WWII crime drama, shot by the great Douglas Slocombe in blitzed out East London. Googie Withers is magnificent, as ever.

Pink String And Sealing Wax

The title suggests a comedy, but again this Ealing Studios film from director Robert Hamer & star Googie Withers, shows their darker side. Set in Victorian era Brighton it concerns a pharmacy, a local watering hole and the (almost) perfect murder.

The Halfway House

Basil Dearden had, in my youth, acquired something of a stuffy reputation, which I was delighted to later find was very wrong. An extremely versatile director, this poignant film finds him in supernatural gear as it concerns a strange guesthouse that is lost in time.

The Small World Of Sammy Lee

The Uncut Gems of its day. A brilliant Anthony Newley hustles his way through 60s Soho trying to escape the promise of broken limbs from some scary loan sharks. Incredible location work, a total time capsule for the red light district as it once was.

Went The Day Well?

One of the greatest directors of post war British cinema was the Brazilian director Cavalcanti. This film is a suspenseful ‘What If’ tale set in WWII, telling the tale of a German invasion on British soil. The inhabitants of fictional village Bramley End find the Nazis in their midst and must fight back. Stirring propaganda and the only place you’re likely to find Thora Hird in a life or death gun battle. I had only seen this recently, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it inspired my Hot Fuzz in some way.

Ice Cold In Alex

The ultimate WWII matinee epic. I never watched this with my late grandfather, but it was one of his favourites. A British answer on The Wage Of Fear, it tells of a mission through the desert with all the pitfalls (and quicksand) you can imagine. The famous end scene where John Mills savours the beer of the title, is such a vivid moment that you would swear the amber nectar was actually in color and not B&W.

The Cruel Sea

A stirring, engrossing WWII film based on the novel by former naval office Nicholas Monsarrat shows the toil and grim drama of the war effort in the unforgiving ocean; with an all-star Brit cast of Jack Hawkins, Stanley Baker, Denholm Elliot & Donald Sinden.


Julie Christie lights the screen on fire in this drama set and shot in the very epicentre of 60s London. This romantic drama also stars the brilliant Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Harvey, but it is of course Christie, who won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role, who makes the film truly iconic.

Dead Of Night

Before Amicus made their name with their horror anthologies of the 60s and 70s, it was Ealing Studio who laid an early claim to the genre, with this extraordinary film. The combined talents of Basil Dearden, Charles Crichton, Cavalcanti and Robert Hamer conjure up something truly unforgettable, with the final story about ventriloquist Michael Redgrave and his dummy Hugo being the one that has haunted cinema ever since.

That’ll Be The Day

Producer David Puttnam was inspired by the Nilsson song ‘1941’ to conceive a coming of age tale set in post war Britain about the birth of rock and roll and its profound effect on the teens of the time. David Essex stars in this beautifully shot postcard of a film, which shoots it’s 50s set scenes on the lost in time Isle Of Wight to eerie effect. The sequel, Stardust, directed by Michael Apted is even better.

Recommended Titles

Charles Frend1953
Robert Hamer1947
Charles Crichton, Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Dearden & Robert Hamer1945
Basil Dearden1944
John Schlesinger1965
Alberto Cavalcanti1942
Claude Whattham1973
Ken Hughes1963
Robert Hamer1945
J. Lee Thompson1958