Top 10 British Gangster Films2.05.14 # Top Ten # 3 Comments
British gangster films probably have almost as sorry a collective reputation as 1970s British TV presenters – thanks in large part to the genre’s never-ending stream of cash-in quickies which invariably come replete with some generically tough guy title (Big Man, Mad Dog, Angry Balls), and a curiously glowing pull quote from some useless lad rag.
But that doesn’t change the fact that there are a host of genuinely great British gangster films out there. This is our Top 10 of ‘em…
10: London to Brighton (2006)
If your overriding impression of British cinema comes courtesy of Richard Curtis and his delightful tales of poshos parping pound coins from every orifice as they attempt to untangle some romantic spaghetti or other, then London to Brighton represents a shock like having a pair of electrodes clamped to your nipples.
Produced on a budget which would only just about cover a train ticket for the eponymous journey, Paul Andrew Williams’ debut makes smart use of elliptical editing to weave a darkly violent tale that takes in prostitution, p*edophilia, and a lot of people being pretty rotten to one another.
9: Brighton Rock (1947)
Staying in Brighton… forget the limp remake from a few years back, starring Sam Riley as a Pete Doherty lookalike with a penknife; focus instead on the Boulting brothers classic – a tale of low-life skulduggery set against the backdrop of the archetypal English seaside break.
Richard Attenborough plays Pinkie, a baby-faced assassin to make Ole Gunnar Solksjær soil his shorts. And though the future Sir Dickie was perhaps already a little too old for the role, his performance left a deep impression on none other than Graham Greene, author of the source novel, who was moved to call the actor his ‘perfect Pinkie’. Aw, cute.
8: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
The UK answer to Pulp Fiction – not in quality; entertaining as Lock, Stock remains, it lags as far behind Tarantino’s meisterwerk as Patton Oswalt would be behind Usain Bolt in a race to the end of the street. No, where Guy Ritchie’s debut really compares to Pulp is in its legion of heinously crap imitators.
Following its success, Brit-flicks featuring swear-words, shooters and shiny suits suddenly proliferated, as priapic homonculi like You’re Dead and Rancid Aluminium were loosed upon the world. Hell, even Lock, Stock shoehorned itself into the sh*t-storm, as it spewed up a shockingly awful and mercifully short-lived telly spin-off.