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London to Brighton

Lorraine Stanley and Georgia Groome in London to Brighton

London, 3.07am, in a horrible manky toilet, Joanne, a very young girl (Georgia Groome) is having the lipstick wiped from her teary face by Kelly, an older woman (Lorraine Stanley), whose bulldog features have taken a battering and who’s wearing a skirt so short she can only be a prostitute. Who are they? What’s going …

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Police Story

Jackie Chan in Police Story

      There are plenty of people who think of Jackie Chan as a brilliant martial artist who has squandered his gifts on silly comedy. Even they, the Chan purists, acknowledge the brilliance of Police Story, Chan’s best film. And now that we’re in 2013 and Chan is nudging 60 years old, he’s never …

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Snow White sings to the bluebird in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

    David Hand? Look at the credits and you’ll see the name down as the director, one among quite a few, depending on where you’re looking. Such is the grip of the “director as auteur” notion on modern thinking that everyone – from the IMDB down – feels obliged to list the director first, as …

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Persuasion

Ciarán Hinds and Amanda Root in Persuasion

    Before popping up seemingly out of nowhere when he directed Notting Hill, Roger Michell had had a successful career as a theatre director, at the groundbreaking Royal Court Theatre in London with Samuel Beckett and John Osborne (where he also met Danny Boyle), then on to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) before switching …

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The 39 Steps

Madeleine Carroll handcuffed to Robert Donat in The 39 Steps

    There are several filmed versions of John Buchan’s novel. The other two notables have Kenneth More and Robert Powell in the lead. But this one, in spite of its antiquity, is the best. It stars debonair, pencil-moustached Robert Donat as the innocent man forced into going on the run after accidentally getting caught …

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Jazz On A Summer’s Day

Anita O'Day in Jazz on a Summer's Day

    Back when cats wore hats, stills photographer Bert Stern, fresh from his famous shoot with Marilyn Monroe in the buff, went off to the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival and made a film about Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, George Shearing, Dinah Washington, Anita O’Day, Mahalia Jackson, Jack Teagarden, Gerry Mulligan, and even Chuck Berry, …

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Nosferatu

Max Schreck as Nosferatu

Murnau’s 1922 silent expressionist classic is one of defining moments in movie-making. It borrowed its story wholesale from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, gave it the lightest of resprays and hoped no one would notice the theft. Bram Stoker’s widow noticed and sued for breach of copyright, won the case and had all the prints of Nosferatu …

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The Matrix

Laurence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves, The Matrix

Who has not seen The Matrix? It’s the Gone with the Wind and Star Wars of our era, a phantasmagoria in black leather open to multiple readings that was already being described as mind-bending and complex before it even debuted. From this distance it all seems as clear as water – Mr Anderson (Keanu Reeves), …

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