- Format: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-0-7190-8714-1
- Pages: 288
- Publisher: Manchester University Press
- Price: £15.99
- Published Date: June 2015
- BIC Category: Film and Media, Film history, theory & criticism, The arts / Film theory & criticism, PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism
Anyone who has loved British films will want to read this book. In choosing twenty films, many of them classics of their kind - think of Brief Encounter, The third man, Genevieve - as well as some less well-known titles, the author communicates his enthusiasm for the sheer range of British cinema as well as a keenly critical interest in what has made these films stay in the mind often after many decades and many viewings. Not that it is just a nostalgic wallow: it comes nearer to the present day with titles such as Last Orders and In the Loop and it is intended to provoke discussion as much as recollection. Though it is rigorous in conducting its 'guided tour' of these films, it does so in ways that make it accessible to anyone with a passion for cinema. You don't have to be a specialist to enjoy the tour.
Viewing our films with affection from a distance of 12000 miles, Brian McFarlane is one of the best friends British cinema has ever had. An Autobiography of British Cinema, an assembly of his enthusiastic interviews with British filmmakers, is valuable, informative and enjoyable. The Encylopedia of British Film is indispensable and without equal. Now in Twenty British films: A guided tour, a highly personal but carefully argued choice of "twenty films to cherish" McFarlane takes us into the heart of a lifelong obsession that became an academic pursuit without losing any of its passion.
'McFarlane is good on clothes in general: he describes a group of hikers in Genevieve as sporting "excruciating 1950s leisure wear", and homes in on the "cheap flowered stretch pants" that help establish Brenda Blethyn's ever-flummoxed character in Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies.
Pithy observations of this kind add considerably to the appeal of McFarlane's Twenty British Films, an entertaining compendium that shows its author at his most relaxed.
Over a long academic career, McFarlane has published many books on British film (and on Australian film as well). This latest venture, though, is something different: a series of chatty but informative essays aimed at the general public, arranged in chronological order and covering everything from obscure B-movies to popular favourites such as The Lady Vanishes and Brief Encounter.'
Jake Wilson is the author of Mad Dog Morgan (Currency Press), Sydney Morning Herald 9/12/15
'Australian writer Brian McFarlane continues to champion the cause of British film with this more personal undertaking, his stated intention being "to write a book about films I admire, indeed love, rather than an academic text". This is a book to be read.'
Allen Eyles, The Veteran Magazine
'Twenty British Films might be an 'unusual' book, but it also a highly enjoyable and very good one, written by someone who is an evangelist for British cinema. I can heartily recommend it for both academic and general readers who share that same enthusiasm.'
James Chapman (University of Leicester), Journal of British Cinema and Television Vol 13, Issue 4
'The discussion around each film is thoughtful and enlightening. The discussions have been structured in such a manner that the readers are introduced to the author's 'essence of pleasure' regarding each film and are then led to formulate and reconsider their own sources of pleasure.'
Rahul Kumar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Brian McFarlane is the editor of The Encyclopedia of British Film, and Adjunct Professor at the Swinburne Institute of Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne
1. Ladies on a train: Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938)
2. Shaw's Cinderella on screen: Pygmalion (1938)
3. Pulling together for The Way Ahead (1944)
4. The long-lasting Brief Encounter (1945)
5. Two from the comfort zone: Great Day (1945) and Temptation Harbour (1947)
6. It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) - and other things go wrong too
7. The Third Man (1945) and several more
8. Genevieve (1953): Old cars and 'the other thing'
9. Double bill: Private Information (1952) and Cash on Demand (1963)
10. A Kind of Loving (1962) - and of living
11. The Servant (1963): things fall apart
12. Sex, talk, men and Women in Love (1969)
13. Hard men: Get Carter (1970)
14. From life: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1977)
15. Alice in the real world: Dreamchild (1986)
16. Guests and others at Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
17. Families, for better and worse: Secrets and Lies (1996)
18. In search of Wonderland (1998)
19. Giving and taking Last Orders (2002)
20. In your face: In the Loop (2009)