The Top 100 British Films of the 20th Century was produced by the British Film Institute in 1999. Over 27,000 votes were cast from people throughout the film industry - among them; actors, directors, producers, distributors and critics. The list was eventually published on the BFI website. Below are the films of the 1960s in the order of the year of release with their original position in the Top 100. (All descriptions are excerpted from the BFI website). 


Saturday Night & Sunday Morning               

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA - 1962(3rd in Top 100)

Adapted from his own novel by Alan Sillitoe with it's raw, rough and ready mix of working class angst and earthy humour, the film marked a turning point in British cinema's attitude towards sex, social status and authority. Albert Finney's blistering central performance was offset by perfectly judged supporting players and its seminal influence simply cannot be overstated.

Lawrence of Arabia

Writer Robert Bolt and the peerless aesthetic sensibilities of director David Lean's majestically sweeping epic is as much a romantic poem to the breathless beauty of the desert itself as much as it is an examination of an enigmatic and tortured soul. Peter O'Toole makes an instant and magnetic impact. 


Sparrows Can't Sing

Adapted from a Theatre Workshop play by Stephen Lewis (yes, Inspector Blake from 'On the Buses') this is the first starring role for an actress who would become a national treasure; Barbara Windsor. Set in and around Stepney in the East End of London, Babs plays Maggie, a young mum who is living with Bert (George Sewell) while her husband (James Booth) has been at sea for two years. When he arrives back home Maggie must decide where her loyalties lie. Does she choose steady Bert, who is a local bus driver or go back to fun-loving tearaway Charlie?

BILLY LIAR - 1963 (76th in Top 100)

Billy Liar

Written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall and directed by John Schlesinger, this is a brilliantly realised Walter Mitty-esque fantasy about a lazy, irresponsible young clerk in provincial Northern England who lives in his own fantasy world and makes emotionally immature decisions as he alienates friends and family. The film had a seminal influence on the cinema of the time as well as also making the character of Billy into a genuine cross media icon of the decade.

THE SERVANT - 1963 (22nd in Top 100)

The Servant Movie

Adapted by Harold Pinter from Robin Maughan's novel, the film paints a glossy, penetratingly uncomfortable portrait of the gradual and often cruel reversal of the balance of power between a manservant and his rich but morally weak upper class employer. Starring Dirk Bogarde and James Fox, the film remains a fascinating and unsettling examination of the darker side of a hedonistic decade.

THIS SPORTING LIFE - 1963 (52nd in Top 100)

This Sporting Life

David Storey's adaptation of his own novel directed by Lindsey Anderson presents the story of a young miner turned professional rugby player whose innate self-destructiveness means unhappiness for those closest to him. Bleak and uncompromising, the film's tough core is embodied by Richard Harris' powerful central performance as the disaffected anti-hero.

GOLDFINGER - 1964 (70th in Top 100)



Writers Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn's adaptation of Ian Fleming's novel is transformed by director Guy Hamilton into a sleek and glossily witty cinematic experience that is arguably the quintessential Bond actioner. From the opening bomb blast outside a nightclub to a last-minute escape from a similar fate, James Bond takes us on an exhilarating pulse-pounding thrill-ride.

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT - 1964 (88th in Top 100)

A Hard Day's Night

Writer Alun Owen and director Richard Lester's likeable and mould-breaking musical fantasy effortlessly harnesses the talent and appeal of its musical stars to genuinely dazzling and imaginative effect. A strikingly original classic captures the fun and excitement of Beatlemania at its height.

ZULU - 1964 (31st in Top 100)


Writer John Prebble. Co-writer and director Cy Endfield and producer/star Stanley Baker's tense, exciting, emotional recreation of the 1879 historic battle of Rorke's Drift, is one of the great action films of all time. Boasting fine production values, genuine heart and a breakthrough performance from a young Michael Caine, the film remains an evergreen piece of epic scale cinematic entertainment.

DR. ZHIVAGO - 1965 (27th in Top 100)

Doctor Zhivago

Writer Robert Bolt and director David Lean's epic adaptation of Boris Pasternak's novel of love against a backdrop of revolution is lushly sweeping historical romance which benefits from the best efforts of a powerhouse cast and composer Maurice Jarre's hauntingly evocative musical score. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie's performances are brilliant in a subtle, understated way, making the film a joy to watch.

THE IPCRESS FILE - 1965 (59th in Top 100)

The Ipcress File

Writers Bill Canaway and James Doran's adaptation of Len Deighton's novel is fashioned by director Sidney J. Furie into a smart, classy thriller whose resolute low key approach was a deliberate counterpoint to the high gloss antics of the Bond series. Supermarket shopping, gourmet cooking, spectacle wearing Harry Palmer effortlessly helped elevated star Michael Caine into the top rank of film stardom. Two lesser but enjoyable sequels followed.

BLOW UP - 1966 (60th in Top 100)

Blow Up

Written and directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, this highly influential thriller is more an exercise in style over content, but nevertheless maintains a valid interest due to the fresh perspective brought to the 'Swinging' London scene it depicts and the outsider's vision of its director. The film follows a well-known fashion photographer who captures evidence of a murder when he takes some innocent snapshots of a couple in the park.

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS - 1966 (43rd in Top 100)

A Man for All Seasons

Robert bolt's adaptation of his own stage play is rendered into an intelligent and moving filmic experience by the skill of director Fred Zimmerman. A high quality cast lend invaluable support to Paul Schofield's dignified, complex and brilliantly realised portrayal of the doomed Sir Thomas Moore when King Henry VIII asks him to break with the Pope and grant him a divorce. The film was nominated for 8 Academy Awards.


Georgy Girl

Georgina doesn't fit into the swinging London social scene and yearns for a traditional relationship. She is gawky, badly-dressed and makes wise-cracks to cover her emotional inadequacies and is also envious of her flatmate Meredith, who lives for the moment and the next available man. Meredith's current boyfriend Jos moves in with the two girls. But he soon begins to find himself attracted to Georgy. Georgy Girl was a ground-breaking film, being one of the first to deal with the sexual revolution of the '60s.


Up the Junction

Based on Neil Dunn's iconic tale of life in London's swinging sixties, this is a tale of a young, well-heeled party girl who, bored with her affluent Chelsea lifestyle, moves to the industrialised and considerably less well-to-do area of Battersea. In search of realism she takes a factory job. But she is unprepared for the seedier side of life in an impoversished world of crime, desperation and questionable morality. Stars Dennis Waterman, Suzy Kendall, Maureen Lipman and Adrienne Posta.

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD - 1967 (79th in Top 100)

Far From the Madding Crowd

Writer Frederick Raphael's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel is given a well-designed, faithfully realised sheen by director John Schlesinger. Julie Christie is radiant in the central role of a headstrong young woman who inherits her dead uncle's farm in Wessex. Soon after her arrival, three very different men begin to pursue her: She falls in love with a reckless military sergeant whose reputation precedes him. With stunning cinematography from Nicholas Roeg.

IF - 1968 (12th in Top 100)


Writer David Sherwin and director Lindsey Anderson's anarchic, disjointed and stylistically disconcerting allegory of public school discontent remains a challenging cinematic social nightmare even today. A mix of surrealism and dark humour the film perfectly captures the spirit of rebellion beginning to emerge in the sixties.

KES - 1969 (7th in Top 100)


Writers Barry Hines, Ken Loach and Tony Garnet's adaptation of Hines' novel "A Kestrel for a Knave", becomes a raw and heartrending intimate tale of a boy's slow and painful realisation of the realities of life through his touchingly tender relationship with his pet bird. Under director Loach's starkly documentary filmic approach, his actors offer up performances of genuine truth and depth. As relevant now as it was then, this remains a deeply remarkable, insightful and most of all human film.