Photo by Josh Wolff

James Grady

Author and screenwriter known for his thriller novels picks The Wicker Man, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Elephant Man, Sid and Nancy, The Ladykillers, I’m All Right Jack, The Third Man, Circus Of Horrors, Death On The Nile, The Go-Between, Don’t Look Now, The Mirror Crack’d, Evil Under The Sun and Murder On The Orient Express.

StudioCanal’s release of its UK Vintage Classics Collection is a gift to the world. The high-tech restoration and repackaging of many of Britain’s cinematic triumphs gives movie fans of today and tomorrow a chance to appreciate the joys and savvy of yesterday’s artists who made life more tolerable, understandable – and a whole lot more fun. The collection contains examples of cultural artistry appreciated by millions of “ordinary” people for the price of a movie ticket and two enthralling hours of their flickering lit presence. If you love movies, wrap your arms around StudioCanal’s UK Vintage Classics Collection. And in the truest sense of the word “bonus”, many of the movies are packaged with discs of alternative cuts, interviews, and context-creating special features.

The Wicker Man is a must see for any movie fan. The movie transcends the “horror movie” genre with a wild surrealistic explosion of suspense, characters and creativity spawned in the mind-bending Sixties decade before this movie’s 1973 release. Never before or since has the agony of unrequited lust been filmed with such true and artistic WOW! as the bizarre segment of naked Britt Ekland pounding on the wall that separates her from pyjama-confined, tortured Edward Woodward trapped on the other side.

Kind Hearts & Coronets redefined the genres of commercial moviemaking, a hysterical yet deep comedy and satire that follows what we’d now call a serial killer trying to revenge his way through his family toward his own glory. Alec Guinness is absolutely brilliant.

The Elephant Man, an early triumph by director David Lynch, is a wonderful movie that shows how we let our shock and horror about physical appearances warp our own lives even as the title character struggles into “normal” society.

Sid & Nancy is a remarkable biopic set in the banging-guitars of the 1970s punk rock music explosion. The movie appreciates the triumphs and tears of artistic fame even as it depicts the epidemic of narcotics that crushed musical stars as far back as the jazz age. Two moments will still stay with you – the glass wall and the haunting cry of: “What about the farewell drugs?”

The Ladykillers is a brilliant comedy spotlighting both 20th Century thespian geniuses Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. A classic crew of caper crooks encounter a sweet old landlady. What could go wrong? You’ll laugh for hours finding out.

I’m All Right Jack is a star-studded comedy: Peter Sellers (playing two rivals), Ian Carmichael, Terry Thomas and the great Margaret Rutherford. That marvelous cast is enough to make the movie a classic to treasure. Throw in a plot that satirizes that thing we call work, and you’ll watch this lovingly restored movie over and over. I’m All Right Jack was one of the first British comedies to play in rural American theatres – and make those audiences laugh.

The Third Man is one of the best movies ever made. Period. Graham Greene wrote it and Orson Welles as one of the most despicable villains in cinema history brings this movie to life. Even the soundtrack became a hit. Deliberately shot in Black & White, the movie is a noir classic, where hopes and dreams confront jagged realities of the world and the heart. The segments in the Vienna sewers are mind-blowingly brilliant.

Circus Of Horrors goes beyond its title and initial billing as a horror movie to today being appreciated as a story about evil men manipulating wounded – and societally less powerful – women. The movie is also a commentary on society’s infatuation with physical appearances. Plus, it will creep you out – in a good way.

Death On The Nile is a triumph of adapting Agatha Christie’s genius to the movie screen – or in this case, a great restoration on Blu-Ray. This movie is a shotgun blast of great actors: Peter Ustinov, Jane Birkin, Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Olivia Hussey, George Kennedy, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Jack Warden and other stars. Any Agatha Christie tale guarantees a good time. This cast makes this experience a marvelous cinematic journey.

The Go-Between can be watched as a tense “romance story” and a scathing indictment of the British class system of the last century, but Alan Bates and Julie Christie bring their characters to life with an artistry that viewers from any culture can appreciate. And the heat, the heat of the plot and the characters, oh that heat.

Don’t Look Now is perhaps the strangest and most shocking movie from the 1970s. You will never guess how it ends, and sometimes – like its characters – you will not be certain what’s going on. A story set in grief, hope and horror from the great author Daphne du Maurier, this is modern conscious filmmaking with everything from time-flips to camera angles enhancing the surrealistic plot. This is a movie to be seen if you want to see what movies can do, and it’s worth however it makes you feel. The famous love scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie is honest, erotic and powerful.

The Mirror Crack’d flashes its wonderful creativity from the moment you see its abbreviated title. This is classic Agatha Christie starring one of her most beloved characters: Miss Marple, whose unassuming savvy uncovers murder and more in an “ordinary” British village. This is a great British mystery movie with a wonderful cast dominated by Americans: Angela Lansbury, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and Tony Curtis. We watch Agatha Christie movies for a good time, and this movie delivers.

Evil Under The Sun gives us movie watchers fun under our sun no matter what time of day or size of screen we use to watch this wonderful high-tech restored masterpiece of mystery and characters from the mind of Agatha Christie. In this movie, Peter Ustinov is Christie’s famous moustached detective Hercule Poirot, while with that detective at a crime-scene, luxury hotel are actors who’ll steal your eyes: Jane Birkin, James Mason, Roddy McDowall, Diana Rigg, Colin Blakely, and Maggie Smith.

Murder On The Orient Express from Agatha Christie created an entire genre of “on the train” movies, and this lovingly restored version of her classic tale is a gem of a movie. Director Sidney Lumet assembled a cast of movie stars so big it’s hard to believe: Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman (who won an Oscar for this work), Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark and Michael York. And at the center of the movie, Albert Finney creates his version of detective Hercule Poirot that feels dead on true. This is the Agatha Christie movie adaptation to see above all others.

Recommended Titles

Alexander Mackendrick1955
Sidney Hayers1960
Joseph Losey1971
Guy Hamilton1982
Nic Roeg1973
John Guillermin1978
Robin Hardy1973
Carol Reed1949
Alex Cox1986
John Guillermin1974
Guy Hamilton1980
David Lynch1980