Ealing Classics

There are some things that only get better with age – and we’re not just talking about good wine here. The hard-working folks at the Vintage Festival scoured the country to put together a collection of all things cool from 5 decades of British fashion, music, design, art – and of course film.

Curated by one of our all-round film heroes, producer Stephen Woolley, our programme of classic films that got a huge thumbs up from the mobile cinema crew and all our audiences. And these classic films are making a real come-back – Optimum Releasing have been busy cleaning up some of the old 35mm film prints to not only make them available to the public once again, but to bring them back in a digitally restored format that has in many cases miraculously enhanced the audio and visual experience. So, if you’ve never seen them, we would heartily recommend you get out there and catch some of these classics, now available on Blu-Ray and DVD, with a host of extra features on the discs to boot:

Sing-Along Bugsy Malone (1976) –  This musical gangster comedy is brought to life by actors and actresses who were all under 17 years old, with most considerably younger – Jodie Foster was only 13 when she ably took on the role of ‘Tallulah’. The setting is prohibition-era New York, where the gangsters are running riot – in this case, with rapid-fire custard ‘splurge guns’. Once splurged, a kid is ‘all washed up’ and his career in crime is over. And without spoiling the plot, the colossal custard pie fight as the film climaxes is well worth a watch! Directed by Alan Parker, starring Scott Baio, Florie Dugger, John Cassisi, Martin Lev and Jodie Foster

Whisky Galore! (1949) – Now, what would you do if you were living on a Scottish Island and a ship carrying 50,000 cases of whisky ran aground? No question for these inhabitants, only there’s just one problem – an English Guard Captain who stands in their way. The result is a comedy which, like a good whisky, only improves with age. Directed by Alexander Mackendrick, starring Basil Redford, Bruce Seaton, Joan Greenwood and Gordon Jackson.

Hue and Cry (1947)– This film is considered to the original Ealing comedy –  creating a world of working-class children’s secret clubs on the war-damaged streets of London. The kids discover what they believe are secret messages between criminals being conveyed in their favourite comic, and set out to foil the plot. Directed by Charles Chrichton, starring Alistair Sim, Harry Fowler and Joan Dowling.

The Ladykillers ( 1955) – Posing as an amateur string quartet, a criminal gang take on a room in the unsuspecting Mrs Wilberforce’s lop-sided home. The landlady is blissfully unaware of the mayhem that she causes the gang – proving an unlikely adversary to the crooks. Directed by Alexander Mackendrick, starring Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Peter Sellers and Katie Johnson

Passport to Pimlico (1949) – When a bomb goes off in London’s Pimlico, an astonishing cache of documents are revealed that uncover the fact that the area actually belongs to the French. The residents embark on a hilarious adventure in and around their suddenly foreign land, and the absurdity of the plot is carried off brilliantly by the cast. Directed by Henry Cornelius, starring Stanley Holloway, Margaret Rutherford and Barbara Murray.

Yield to the Night (1956) – An exception to our selection of comedies, this is a powerful film about the power of the human spirit, following a murderess who is condemned to death. Faced with an ever shortening future, she is forced to face up to the past. An outstanding drama that stands the test of time. Directed by J Lee Thompson, starring Diana Dors, Yvonne Mitchell and Michael Craig.

Screened at Vintage at the Southbank Centre, July 2011