Remember the best of British and win DVDs from the BFI Flipside

What do a group of Glaswegian lads trying to steal sinks, David Jason as a not-very-deadly assassin, Michael Winner directing Lucy the Elephant, Googie Withers meeting an escaped prisoner and Jim Davidson as a flamboyant singer have in common?

They were all suggested by readers in response to my plea last week for suggestions for ‘forgotten’ British film that should be seen in our cinemas once again. And what brilliant suggestions they were…

Over on Twitter, @brendonconnelly recommended Bill Forsyth’s That Sinking Feeling (1980), the director’s first film which I discussed here last year when the badly dubbed DVD was released: I’d happily pay to see a proper print of this at the cinema. Brendon also advised people look out for the work of English director Pen Tennyson

@ewan_james mentioned 1985’s Glasgow-based Heavenly Pursuits and 1980’s Deathwatch, technically a French film but much of it was filmed in Glasgow. @FilmFan1971 recommended 1970’s The Deep End and 1971’s John Mackenzie-directed thriller, Unman, Wittering and Zigo.

The Odd Job from 1978, starring a pre-Del Boy David Jason as a hit man hired by Monty Python’s Graham Chapman to kill him, was mentioned by @El_Duderino81, who also recommended 1959’s Beat Girl starring a young Oliver Reed and Christopher Lee, and 1972’s Sitting Target, again starring Reed.

Actor David Morrissey (@davemorrissey64) tweeted to say that 1947’s gritty It Always Rains on Sunday, featuring Googie Withers as a housewife whose ex-lover escapes from prison to interrupt her otherwise joyless life, is worth checking out. 

Elsewhere, @Great_Silence left a message on the blog to say that he reckoned Michael Winner’s 1969 comedy adventure, Hannibal Brooks, was worthy of reappraisal (“Although it’s shot on location in Switzerland, Winner and Reed deliver a classic British WWII caper”)@orangewarrior plumped for Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom from 1960 and @MrMonoboy suggested Terry Gilliam’s Jaberwocky from 1977. 

One of the most interesting suggestions came from @LaurenceBoyce who told me about 2005’s Colour Me Kubrick, starring John Malkovich as a man impersonating director Stanley Kubrick and co-starring Honor Blackman, Marc Warren and Jim Davidson as a “low-rent Liberace with an Elvis gleam in his eye.” For some reason this was never released in the UK, either in cinemas or on video/DVD.

Laurence also mentioned a few other films that I wasn’t aware of:

“The Nine Live of Tomas Katz (Ben Hopkins, 1999). It premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and was a brilliant piece of digital cinema: it finally got a release on DVD a few years ago but it never got the recognition it deserved as a truly innovative British film.

“Ben’s first film Simon Magus, starring Ian Holm and Rutger Hauer, was also a rather excellent fable that has been forgotten. This Filthy Earth, directed by Andrew Kotting and with a script by Kotting and Sean Lock was also another excellent work that never got any recognition, though the BFI thankfully released it on DVD a little while ago.

“There was also a brilliantly twisted film called Chunky Monkey, with David Threlfall as a serial killer which played like an unhinged version of Abigail’s Party. It had a great ensemble cast as well.”

What does all this tell us? For me, it says there’s a raft of little remembered British films that aren’t shown on TV very often and can’t be bought on DVD, but that deserve to be given an airing. I’d like to see Edinburgh cinemas take a chance on some of these, and I’ll be passing all your suggestions on to them with the hope they can squeeze some into their schedules.

Until then, keep an eye on local listings to see what rarities are on near you. 

Thanks to the BFI, we have copies of four British films that have recently released on DVD/Blu-ray on the BFI Flipside Strand, plus a specially made documentary from movie expert Kim Newman, to give away: The Pleasure Girls (1965), The Party’s Over (1963), Privilege (1967), Permissive (1970) or Kim Newman’s Guide to the Flipside of British Cinema.

To win one of the above titles, simply email your name, age and address, with the word BFI in the subject line, to – entries to be received by midnight, Sunday 11 July. Usual Johnston Press rules apply. Editor’s decision is final.


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