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Raymond Durgnat's Pantheon TIER ONE: Major British Movies

by Flying Dutchman
Raymond Durgnat's Pantheon TIER ONE: Major British Movies by Flying Dutchman
“A First Draft Pantheon (drawn from all British films mentioned in the index)” This list is taken from Raymond Durgnat’s A Mirror for England the indispensable study of British cinema from (roughly) the 40’ to the 60’s first published 1970, he sketched out a list of three tiers ; 1) Major Movies (This List is devoted to this first part of the Pantheon.) 2) Important Movies 3) Delightful, Interesting or Erratic Movies. Durgnat is not unanimously complimentary of the films in this list whilst discussing Brief Encounter he admits, "To see it again twenty years on at the Baker Street Classic, is to see another film entirely. Not that it no… Read more

“A First Draft Pantheon (drawn from all British films mentioned in the index)”

This list is taken from Raymond Durgnat’s A Mirror for England the indispensable study of British cinema from (roughly) the 40’ to the 60’s first published 1970, he sketched out a list of three tiers ;

1) Major Movies (This List is devoted to this first part of the Pantheon.)
2) Important Movies
3) Delightful, Interesting or Erratic Movies.

Durgnat is not unanimously complimentary of the films in this list whilst discussing Brief Encounter he admits, "To see it again twenty years on at the Baker Street Classic, is to see another film entirely. Not that it no longer rings true. But the lovers in the drab Milford Junction buffet seem so strained, guilty, cowed, and therefore cold, that in 1965 the audience in this usually polite and certainly middle-class hall couldn’t restrain its derision and repeatedly burst into angry exasperated laughter. Infected by such a reaction one could, with them, see how dismally Trevor Howard’s cringing “Please, please I humbly beg you…” suggested a little boys shame about anything so physical, while Celia Johnson’s cold pat, yap-yapping correctness, taken at the time as the reactions of the nice Englishwoman, seem to shriek the tensions of frigidity. The erstwhile ordinary housewife seemed another Bette Davis, with exotic-neurotic dark-ringed eyes, brittle voice and moral hypochondria. Not since the Entertainer on its general release have I known an audience to be so convulsed by loathing for a film. Even the name of the town enraged a well spoken young lady who finally cried out, “Where the hell is Milford Junction anyway?”. When the lovers were shamed out of consummation by the man’s creepy smarmy friend it seemed suddenly, that these two had never been lovers at all; they were both too sick to be. Indeed Brief Encounter is the locus classics of, is surely the renunciation drama which in Look Back in Anger Claire Bloom tries to play so sole fully but which Jimmy Porter so scathingly disrupts. And thats what happened to Lean’s films, Jimmy Porter came along."

Chance of a Lifetime (1950)
The Damned (1963)
king and Country (1964)
Live Now Pay Later (1962)
The Long and the Short and the Tall of It (1961)
Love Me, Love Me, Love Me (1962)
Men of Two Worlds (1946)
The Next of Kin (1942)
Passage Home (1955)
The Plain Man’s Guide to Advertising (1963)
Private’s Progress (1956)
Reach for Glory (1963)
The Road Sweeper (not sure what film this refers to as not in index and cannot remember where it is mentioned in body of the text, I assume he is referring to Street Cleaners directed by Michael Ingrams (1956))
Sparrows Can’t Sing (1963)
Tell England (1931)
Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957)
Yesterday’s Enemy (1959)
“Look in on London” Tramps (1956)

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