English films are generally better known to Americans than most other foreign films, primarily of course because they were made in English. There are quite a number of wonderful English films, both calssics and modern productions. Some of the English films are especially interesting to HBC , especially those shots before the 1970s, because there is an elemental of realism in the street sceens, rather than costumed productions. Quite a few interesting films were shot on the streets so the c;othing and social ambience we see is real. A good example here is "The Magnet". There are some wonderful English films focusing on children. Here are some of the films that especially impressed us. Hopefully our English readers will be able to add to the list and tell us more about these wonderdul films.
This British ballet film won the audience award at the 2000 Edinburgh Film Festival. It is a touching drama about a boy with dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, a dream that his family and friends can not share and fight offensive and threatening. Billy is an 11-year-old boy who wants to be a ballet dancer against the background of the mid-1980's miners'
As the term comes to an end at the private boy’s school, the Abbey, the classics master Andrew Crocker-Harris (Albert Finney) is also coming to the end of his long teaching career. Looking back on over two decades in the school, Crocker-Harris realizes that his
entire life has been one of dismal failure. He has not been able to inspire the boys with his love of classical literature, his popular and attractive wife (Greta Scacchi) is having an affair with a younger master (Mathew Modine) and he faces a retirement of loneliness and
ignominy. Then the gift of the Browning version of the Agamemnon by one of his pupils provides an unexpected source of inspiration and the hope of happiness to come. Most of the movie is shot within the confines of the school grounds with many shots of the boys in their school uniforms. The uniform for this school is very similar to the uniform worn at Eton.
A wonderful family musical about an absent-minded inventor who juives up an old jalopy. The support and immaginations of his two children (a boy and girl) and a lady friend helps to transform his halopy into a flying, floating wonder car. The jalopy carries them to a magical kingdom where they resue kidnapped boys. Inspired by an Ian Fleming (of Janes Bond fame) idea. It received Academy Award Nominations: for best song ("Chitty Chitty Bang Bang").
Nuns help Jewish children escape from a NAZI internment camp located near their convent. It us set in 1943. Quite a gripping story set in Italy. The children wear historically correct period clothing. They come from camps and are scruffily dressed. In one scene children are being bathed and consoled. One nun goes to bathe a boy about 10. He complains, "You are a girl, I know you are." She tries to tell him that she is a nun and that it is alright, but he still refuses. "I can't bathe you with your trousers on," she tells him. "Yes you can." he replies. Finally she bribes him with chocolate. The boy is hesitant but finally agrees. The Germans who are depicted as Wehrmact anbd nor SS ultimstely seize the convent as a transit camp. The German lieutenant and his sadistic colonel discover that the nuns had been taking in orphaned Jewish children and helping them evade arrest. The Germans order three of the nuns executed. The nuns help the children reach Palestine and safety. One assessment of the film reads, "The pathos of little children caught in the agony of war is always a solid staple of sentiment on the screen. It has been well and touchingly presented in any number of films. And it is offered again with deep compassion in 'Conspiracy of Hearts'. This assessment misses the mark historically. Jewish children were not 'caught in the agony of war'. Killing Jewish children was a ordinary German war goal. We are not sure if This is a feel-good story or has some historical basis, but does accurately illustrated the fact that many Catholic faithful and clerics helped save Jews during the War. The story first aired as an TV episode of 'Goodyear Playhouse' directed by Robert Mulligan (1956). There was a desite to make a film version, but the Rank organization which eventually produced it, initially flatly turned then down. Their view was, "It's religion, it's nuns, it's wartime, who wants to know?" The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Film Promoting International Understanding at the 18th Golden Globe Awards (1961).
This film stars a very shaggy, slobbery main character. He won’t stop growing until he destroys us all. Of course, he is Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World, and he must be stopped. You can't blame Digby for this state of affairs. He is only an unfortunate British sheepdog. How was he to know the harmless-looking liquid he lapped up was actually the super-secret Project X, a vegetable-growing compound? But lap he did, and he begins getting getting and bigger, pounding shockwaves into the city streets and slurping up entire lakes with his gargantuan tongue. Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, usually film heros, understandably beloeve that the only way to stop this Canis humongous is to blow him to doggie heaven. Digby’s young master, Billy White, has quite another plan. Billy seeks to reverse the effects of Project X with an equally-potent shrinking serum. Can Billy accomplish his plan in time? Pray for our Digby. (Our British friends refere to a family member as "Our Bill" or "Our Jane".) This U.K. production didn’t proveveerybpopular in England, but when it crossed the Atlantic, its zany comic skits and oddly-dubbed dialogue appears to have earned Digby a loyal litter of fans who anxiously await a chance to see the big dog in action again. HBC has few details on this film. It is clarrly set in England because the boy wears a traditional school uniform, complete with peaked cap, blazer, tie, short trousers, and kneesocks. The boy's peaked cap had an usually large peak. Also the kong hair he wore rather dates the film to the 1970s. There was a time when prep schools would not have allowed such long hair.
Movie based on J.G. Ballard's autobiographical novel about his experiences in a Japanese detainee camp during World War II. He begins as a smug little British
schoolboy (complete with blazer, cap, and shorts) singing in a choir in Shanghai. The peaked cap and blazer, with contrasting trim, as well as the longisg shorts are
quite accurate costuming. Jim is played by 13-year old Christian Bale. He handles the 11-year old role at the beginning well, but is not a very believable 15-year old
at the end of the movie. He is pictured as an intelligent, dreamy child leading a privileged life. That ends suddenly when the Japanese strike. An only child, he is
separated from his parents when the Japanese seize the city and round up the Europeans. He almost starves as the Japanese refuse to take him prisoner until two
disreputable Americans he becomes attached to are captured. In the internment camp Jim eventually gives up on the British who have standards, but are hapless and
weak. He is drawn to the Americans, a ratty bunch who know how to survive. A great ending with the dramatic appearance of a U.S. P-51, although Jim's Japanese
friend is killed. The movie has a consistently visionary quality. The novel was quite good and so is the movie. The musical sound track is particularly effective.
Rather plodding film which deals with a boy from a modest family who goes to stay with a wealthy school mate. This mate is a rather snotty sot, a blond boy a bit older. It is a meticulously costumed film and the boy's clothes play a pfrominent role. He is teased because he comes with only his heavy winter Norfolk suit. He is given a new summer knee pants suit which he wears with a boyish wide white collar and little bow, so he will not feel out of place. The shopping scene skips over the choice of the suit, but when he returns he has to stand on a stool while everyone admires his new suit. The film was swr in 1900s. The pants aren't knickers, but kneepants and his knees shows as he runs about. Interesting that his friend who invited him to stay is a little older and wears a less childish suit--but still knickers. The guest serves as the go between for a young woman in the family and her lover that the family does not approve of. The role is played by Dominic Gourel I think), who I would say is about 14 years old, but acts as a younger boy who turns 13 at the end of the film. Long scenes in the film are set around him.
The English film Goodbye Mr. Chips is perhaps the most well known of all school accounts. Interestingly, the plot is about a public (exclusive private school) which even few English boys are able to attend. A much loved master at a public school decides to retire. The story opens in the 1930s, hence the more modern' school uniforms in some scenes. Then flashbacks tke us back to the late Victorian era when Arthur Chipping begins teaching and Eton suits are de rigeur for pupils. Chips moves from an idealistic young master who cannot control the boys to crabbed old retired beak who knows every nook nd cranney of theadolescentt mind. The various filmed productions are based on the novel by James Hilton.
Based on the best selling children's novel by Michelle Magorian, Goodnight Mister Tom stars John thaw as Tom Oakley, a cantankerous old man who, in 1940, suddenly finds his life changed irrevocably when he is landed with William beech, an 11-year old evacuee from the London Blitz. The movie shows the clothing that children wore during the war in great detail. It shows boys around the age of 15 to 16 still wearing short trousers and clearly shows one boy wearing corduroy shorts. This is a great movie that will have you reaching for your tissues.
Poor Harry leads a horrible life with his cruel aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley, who is a fat, spoiled bully. Harry as a closet for a room at the foot of the stairs. His aunt and uncle haven't even given hum a birthday party in 11 years. All of that changes when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger--an invitation to an
incredible place that will change Harry for ever. The folm is of course based on the Harry Potter series of books by British writer J.K. Rowling. A HBC reader reports that the film is "Great fun". The boy's, however, do not wear the traditional English short trouser uniforms or caps. This is not a decission by the film makers, but reflects the illustrations in the Rowlings books. Presumably as she wrote the books at a time when British school boys mostly wore long pants, that must have reflected her decisssion. As the boys wear an otherwise rather traitional outfit, the decission semms somewhat incorrect. Harry is played by Daniel Radcliffe.
Shockingly happy movie about World War II on the home front in England, first during the blitz in London and later in the country. The movie is seen through the eyes of a young boy, Bill (Sebastian Rice Edwards), who sees it as a great lark. He is a quiet sensitive boy, an observer not a hero. Bill plays his part well and is a very appealing actor. He wears shorts, the
baggy 1940s type with kneesocks and sandals. He is seen in his school uniform with peaked hap and is delighted to find that his school has been bombed. All in all a beautifully done childhood remembrance. Sebastian plays his part beautifully, but reportedly tried to quit during the filming and had to be talked into continuing. He refused, for example, to do a skinny
This wonderful film with Roddy McDowall who plays Huw. The film is set in a Welsh coal mine town, but will have to be archived here until we have a Welsh movie page. Lovely little movie staring Roddie plays Huw. The film was made in the States after Roddie was evacuated from England during the Blitz. It probably would have never beenmade in England at the time as it is a rather critical look at the U.K., how English mine owners abused the miners--hardly in keeping with the patriotic theme of war-era films. Roddy provides a beautifully sensitive performance and I think it is best film, although he is probably better known for "Lassie
Come Home" (1943) which he made 2 years later. Huw wears kneepants outfits with long socks. For church he wears a wide white collar. Huw is a Welsh coal
miner's son, who is bright and sent to a National School. He is teased because of his Welsh accent and beaten by the school master. He gets sick after nearly
drowning in an icy stream and is bedridden. The film was based on the novel by Robert Lewellyn. The film was made during World War II, but vefore America
entered the War. There was at the time considderable sympathy for Britain and opposition to the NAZIs in Hollywood. Interestingly the plot of the film, which
closely followed the book, represents a considerable criticism of British society, not exactly what you would expect in 1941. Yet the film closes with an optimistic tone, clearly leaving the impression that Wales and Britain were places with important values and people who should be defended.
An all boys’ boarding school is shocked to learn that it will soon be the home of another school as a result of wartime restrictions. It is
shocked even further by the news that the pupils of the visiting school are all girls. At first there is friction between the two head teachers
played by Alistair Sim and Margaret Rutherford, but they are soon drawn together as they battle there way through one crisis after another
including dealing with the Ministry of Education who were responsible for bringing the two schools together. All the boys in the film wear
long trouser suits.
This film about an English boarding school begins as a realistic depiction, but ends in surealistic violence.
It is the year of the coronation and two children plan a journey of over a hundred miles to see the event. They are penniless, but that
doesn’t stop them from achieving their goal to witness first-hand the pomp and ceremony of the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II. Lesley
Dudley played Julie while Colin Gibson was cast in the role of John. He is typically dressed for the period and wears a short trouser suit
and schoolboy cap.
Quite a number of English films have been made on perhaps the quiensencial English boy--William Brown, better known as Just William. The first actual view that the British had of William and the Outlaws was at the movies. HBC does not have a great deal of information about Just William movies. One movie was appropriately enough titled Just William and was made in 1939. I believe this was the first one. Another film was William Himself, I'm not sure when it was made. Another film William at the Circus was made about 1948.
A delicate, haunting movie about a poor, 15 year-old (he looks younger) Yorkshire boy who develops a relationship with a kestrel. The boy is about 12 years old. Many scenes in the boy's comprehensive (high school) school. The authorities are all slightly mad, the boys poorly behaved. David Bradley.
A classic British film, much admired by film buffs. The film was dorected bu Carol Reed, who has several notable films, includig "Oliver!". You can see the same character development with the boy here that Reed used in "Oliver!" This film is about a sweet little boy named Joe who lives in the slums of London. Joe is nice played by Jonathan Ashmore. The actual London streets including small, street-front shops, street vendors, flea-marketers, period cars, ect. Joe and his mother Joanne live in modest circumstances in rooms above the Kandinsky tailor shop where she also works. Joe takes in the chatter of his neigbors and all their problems. He would like to help out. He is also enchanted by Mr. Kandinsky tales, especially when he mentions that a captured unicorn will grant wishes. So Joe buys a small goat, of course for two farthings. Joe is covinced that it is the kind of magic unicorn that Mr. Kandinsky described to him becase it has an emerging horn. Joe's dogged efforts to make all his dreams to help others comes true make this film an inspiring classic. Joe has a lovely accent and is quite precious in his role--although he hardly seems the kind of boy to grow up in the slums.
Classic Sir Alec Guinness movie. The story line is of no interest, but in the first part where the protagonist is pictured as a boy he appears briefly in a sailor suit and Fauntleroy velvet suit. In the velvet suit he is dressed in shorts, short white socks and proper Mary Jane strap shoes. Although the scene is very brief, it is certainly one of the most elaborate sissy suits pictured in the movies. He is fairly young, I'd say about 7 years old. When he is a little older he is pictured going to school and visiting friends in a knickerbocker suit and large white collar, with a large bow. There is a scene in school where he gets the right answer and turns his nose up at another boy who was wrong. A little later after he has grown up he visits the Duke's estate and takes a tour, there are some well dressed boys in the background if you look carefully. One boy is visible in a knickers suit with a large white collar. An older boy is pictured in a long pants sailor suit and broad brimmed straw hat and long ribbon dangling behind the hat.
While Lassie Come Home is an American movie it and How Green is My Valley are perhaps the two most important film portaits about an English boy. And of course the boy playing them was an English boy, Roddy McDowall. This filom was certainly one of the film classics of the 1940s. It starred of course Lassie (actually Pal) and a now teenage Roddy. While an American movie it dealt will as poor Yorkshire (English) boy and his beloved dog. It was one of a series of sentimental films shot in America and England which were thought to help support morale during the war. The film was set during the World War I era, but Roddy's costume seems more in keeping with what English boys were wearing during World War II. Roddy continued wearing short pants suits even after coming to America.
The BBC in 1995 produced another version of Little Lord Fauntleroy. Ironically the same young American actor, Michael Benz, that played in the Mike and Angelo Fauntleroy spoof, played Cedric in the newest BBC
dramatisation. He appears to have been about 10 or 11 years old in the film.This film was condensed from the BBC television miniseries.
This is surely one of the most provocative films about boys ever made. It is in the same genre as The War of the Buttons, but much more powerful. This is a very powerful and dramatic movie. The acting by the boys is excellent, the writing is effective, and the location shooting is superb. The plot is about a group of English private prearatory school boys, including a choir, stranded on a deserted island when the airplane they are on crashes. All of the adults are killed and except for the very end, adults play no part
in the plot and do not appaer. The film is based on the acclaimed novel by Sir William Golding and the film lives up to the book--unusual nowadays. Some of the boys attempt to resist the descent to barbarity, but the boys slowly revert to the primitive--led in this case by the choir. With many kids surviving, but no adults Ralph (James Aubrey) initially takes charge to the dismay of Jack (Tom Chapin), who wanted to be the leader. Eventually,
Jack has enough of Raplhs leadership methods (order, discipline, rules etc), and decides to go it alone. Soon most of the kids have gone to Jacks "evil" camp. Without any adults in the party, civilization soon disapears as Jack imposes his rule leading to the theft, torture, and murder. It doesnt take long for these well behaved kids to turn into savages, that are capable of anything. Most of the boys wear English short pants school uniforms at
the beginning of the film, including caps, ties, blazers, short trousers, and kneesocks. They slowly discard their hot woolen clothes. Mostly non professional actors were used for the boys who had a real romp on the island during the filming. James Aubrey, Tom Chapin, Hugh Edwards, and Tom Gaman.
A British boy about 11 or so cheats a younger boy out of his magnet. The younger boy gets into trouble and the older boy is ashamed about it. He thinks the police are after him. His father can't figure out why his son keeps wearing shorts. He thinks the boy may be clinging to his childhood. The almost lyrical opening and closing sequences of this film have svhieved legendary status. The boys wears a typical outfit for the early 1950s, a short pants school unioform which he wears even after school. He appaers briefly in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit, but I'm not sure quite why. This is one of many beautifully made British films during the post-World War II period. While wonderfullyscripted and acted, unfortunately these films just could not compete with bop-o action of Hollywood films. William Fox
ovely musical version of Oliver Twist. Staring a young Mark Lester who was superb in the role. The acting was first rate, but the costumes were disappointing. Jack Wild played Dodger. Sir Carol Reed produced "Oliver!", a musical version of the Dickens' classic. The book had been done several times before: Jackie Coogan played Oliver in 1922, Dickie Moore played the part touchingly in 1933, and John Howard Davis appeared in the 1948 production that featured Alec Guinness' marvelous interpretation of the sly Fagin. Sir Carol needed to find a child that could sing and dance as well as act. About 2,000 boys applied and 250 actually auditioned. Clayton recommended Mark to Sir Carol and he was offered the role soon after his audition. "Oliver!" emerged as one of the colossal productions of the 1960s. It was the version thay I have been most impressed with. I was impressed with Mark's lovely performance. Some believe that his performance was lost in the competition with the strong cast. One reviewer wrote "The focus of the movie is so wide, and the logistics of the production is so heavy, that Oliver himself, dutifully played by 9-year old Mark Lester, gets flattened out and almost lost, as if he had been run over by a studio bulldozer." I think, however, that Mark's performance was superb. He played a boy completely adrift, totally incapable of controlling his situation and swept along by events and the people he comes into contact with. The feeling of powerlessness and vulnerability were critical to the part and perfectly executed. In fact Mark had some fine moments: the singing of "Where is Love?". "Who Will Buy?", and "I'd Do Anything" with an almost angelic quality. I rather agree with a New York Times reviewer who wrote "Young Mark Lester as Oliver has a kind of golden innocence, untainted by self-conscious adorability of the typical child actor, and a marvelous pure boy soprano voice. He is shy, yet game and a perfect foil for Jack Wild's Artful Dogger." Gene Shalit noted "Mark is an ideal Oliver; angelic and sweet voice..." The film was a huge financial success, grossing over $16.8 million (an impressive amount in 1969) in the U.S. and Canada alone and won the 1969 Oscar as the Best Picture. Of all the productions of Oliver Twist, I believe this musical version is my favorite.
This film was released after America entered World War II, although it was begun while Britain fought the Germans alone. The German Blitz of London engendered great sympathy for the British while America was still officially neutral. This divering little movie with Roddy McDowall is set in America, but is about the experieces of English World War II evacuee in a small American town. His American hosts and girls in town or quite smitten with his proper English manners and elegant clothes, but the boys see him very differently.
Romance is on the minds of students and teachers at British secondary school set in the 1950s. A boy's travails at home and at school where he is punished for constant tardiness. The thrashing scene is played for humor. The hero and his friends still wear short pants to school, but the one suave boy they all dislike wears longs. Apparently boys are allowed to option of wearing long or short pants with their uniform. John Albasiny This was a delightful movie, and was the first one shown on Britain's Channel 4. There is some fine period (60's) costume in the film and well-worth seeing if you have the chance. The boy's growing up is observed by metaphor through the voice-over of a cricket commentary.
Laurence Olivier's magnificent film of Shakespeare's "Richard III" is an important English film. A wonderful cast including Olivier (Richard),
Gielgud (Duke of Clarence), Ralph Richardson (Duke of Buckingham), and Cedric
Hardwick (Edward IV). The film also has two excellent child actors portraying
the little princes who are murdered in the Tower of London. The older boy,
Edward, Prince of Wales, becomes briefly Edward V, and his younger brother is
Richard, the little Duke of York. Olivier's earlier film, "Henry V",
also has a boy actor, but only in a very minor role.
This movie stars John Mills as a groom who fires the imagination of an impressionable and lonely boy with stories of horse racing. The boy is given a rocking horse for Christmas which soon becomes his favorite toy. The link between the boy’s games and reality
becomes blurred when he names racehorse winners with uncanny accuracy, but every gift has it’s price. The Rocking Horse Winner is one of John Mills’ greatest productions--a film that is poignant and eternally haunting. This is a movie form the 40s and shows a boy of 10 or 11 years old wearing the fashion of that era, shorts, shirt, pullover and long
Lovely movie based on the A.J. Cronin novel. A lonely boy is befriended by the American
Consul's gardener. (In the movie it was the British Consul.) The boy wears shorts
throughout, often with sandals. He appears in a school uniform as well as in play shorts and
sandals without socks, acuaretly depicting 1950s English boys clothing. Good acting by the
entire cast. The boy was an especially good little actor. He is being raised in a stuffy home and his stogy father takes little interest in his son. The Spanish gardner takes an intersest in the boy introducing him to his family and their warm relationship. His father disapproves. Beautifully told story, even improves on the book as the ending is not so tragic.
Set in the north county of England, two sisters and their brother discover a stranger in the barn of the farm where they live, One of the
children (Haley Mills) mistakes him to be Jesus, but he is an escaped murderer on the run from the police. Soon word gets out among the
children that Jesus is hiding in the barn and very shortly it becomes packed with those children who have come to see what they believe to
be the saviour of the world. Haley Mills’ on screen brother and sister are Alan Barns and Diane Holegate. Alan wears a schoolboy cap,
navy gabardine raincoat, short trousers and wellington boots.
No list of English films featuring boys and their clothing without this classic. A boy at the English naval school is accused of stealing and expelled. A respected lawyer agrees to take his case. Wonderfully acted and well costumed. The film underscores how the law exists to protect even a young boy in a matter of seemingly minor imprtance. It ends with the ringing "Let justice be done." There is also a glitzier but less historically accurate 1999 remake.
HBC has received numerous suggestions from our English readers about films that should be included on this page. Some of the ones that we are not familair with and thus can not aseess are: "The Butcher Boy", "Danny The Champion Of The World", "The Famous Five" (This was a series much like 'Just William'), "The Happiest Days Of Your Life", "Second Best", "The Button War", "The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole", "Thunderpants", and "The Young poisoners Handbook".
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