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John Oliver's BFI Player+ Playlist

A personal journey through British cinema by BFI's Fiction curator; programming and cataloguing British cinema for the BFI since 1996.
This is not a selection of classic British films, although there are some examples here that have rightly attained that status. It is instead an assortment of British films, covering a wide range of years, which mean something personal to me. It may be that a selected film had a strong effect on me when very young, or it could be one that I came to later in life. Either way, they are films that I return to time and again. It is my personal journey through British cinema.
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The 39 StepsThe 39 Steps

Thriller193583 minsDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

Sublime and suspenseful version of the popular John Buchan spy thriller from the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock.

Rent for £2.50

The Man Who Changed His MindThe Man Who Changed His Mind

Horror193663 minsDirector: Robert Stevenson

Boris Karloff stars as Dr. Laurence, a scientist who has devised a way to put one person’s mind into another’s body.

Rent for £3.50

Things to ComeThings to Come

Science Fiction193697 minsDirector: William Cameron Menzies

H.G. Wells' chilling vision of the future, which imagines the 20th Century as a near-endless war and struggle against tyranny, remains a key milestone in British science fiction.

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The Lady VanishesThe Lady Vanishes

Thriller193896 minsDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

An old woman disappears mysteriously on a busy train in Hitchcock’s delightful classic.

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Q PlanesQ Planes

Comedy193979 minsDirector: Tim Whelan

Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier star in a spy drama about the disappearence of prototype military aircraft.

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A Canterbury TaleA Canterbury Tale

War1944125 minsDirector: Michael Powell

Powell and Pressburger's most personal film combines a Chaucer-inspired pilgrimage with a war-time celebration of English landscape and values to create a gem of British cinema.

Rent for £3.50

Oliver TwistOliver Twist

Period drama1948116 minsDirector: David Lean

Arguably the essential Dickens adaptation, David Lean’s evocative portrayal of Victorian London in sooty black and white features Alec Guinness as a memorably sinister Fagin.

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A Night to RememberA Night to Remember

Disaster1958123 minsDirector: Roy Ward Baker

Widely regarded as the finest film account of the sinking of the Titanic, this moving seafaring disaster tale will grip you from start to finish.

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The Day the Earth Caught FireThe Day the Earth Caught Fire

Science Fiction1961100 minsDirector: Val Guest

The BFI’s new HD remaster of the British sci-fi classic. A journalist discovers that the Earth has been knocked off its axis and is moving ever closer to the sun. Is the Earth doomed?

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Vampire CircusVampire Circus

Period drama197194 minsDirector: Robert Young

A dying vampire swears vengeance on the townsfolk who killed him. The promise seems to have been realized when, years later, plague arrives.