Stephen Fry

The actor, author, comedian, screenwriter, broadcaster and director known for Gosford Park, Wilde, QI and Blackadder picks The Go-Between.

One favourite? Ouch. There are so many films here that have given me deep and abiding pleasure through my life. The Third Man is one of the greatest films made anywhere anyhow by anyone. Every shot, every fabulous ugly, pretty, harrowed and sinister face and jagged angle stays with you. But how could I leave out The Dam Busters, The Lion in Winter, The Railway Children and Kind Hearts and Coronets? At first I thought I’d cheat and choose Ealing Studio’s 1945 classic Dead of Night: cheating because it’s really 5 or 6 films, what they used to call a “portmanteau” film – in this case horror portmanteau: a group of people gathered in a country cottage tell their dreams… some of British cinema’s finest directors contribute: Basil Dearden, Alberto Cavalcanti, Robert Hamer and Charles Crichton. This is a favourite film, I watch it often, but in the end I’m going to come down and select The Go-Between, one of three Joseph Losey Harold Pinter collaborations, and in my view the best. Everything, from the cinematography of a parched summer in Norfolk to the stunning Michel Legrand score and the intensely human and real performances from Julie Christie, Alan Bates and Margaret Leighton especially, brings me back again and again. It’s a film about memory, forbidden love, shame, scandal, class embarrassment and coming of age with all its losses and betrayals. Losey (a refugee from McCarthyism) brings an outsider’s eye to the English country house, and Pinter a darkly sceptical sense of the fragility and insecurity behind the secure Edwardian façade – there’s a beauty, a tension, a brilliant dark comic spirit and a matchless sense of romantic pain balanced against lyrical beauty and love. Also, as a boy I bicycled to Melton Hall where much of it was shot, in a desperate quest to be chosen as an extra. Sadly it was not to be. For all those reasons The Go-Between it is. But I’m kind of sobbing now, because it means I’ve left out Ice Cold in Alex, Don’t Look Now and I’m All Right Jack. Grrr. Tell you what, I’ll take the whole lot please.

Recommended Titles

Charles Crichton, Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Dearden & Robert Hamer1945
Joseph Losey1971
Nic Roeg1973
Carol Reed1949
Lionel Jeffries1970
J. Lee Thompson1958
Roy Boulting1959
Robert Hamer1949
Anthony Harvey1968
Michael Anderson1955