As we previously covered, Edgar Wright, Quentin Tarantino, and the folks at Empire magazine hosted a three-hour podcast talk to discuss their love of movies. They talked about some of their own films (“Hot Fuzz,” “Shaun of The Dead,” “Django Unchained, “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”), early theater experiences that had a huge impact on them (James Cameron’s “Aliens” for Tarantino, for example), Tarantino surprised many for giving flowers to Todd Phillips’ “Joker” in a long tangent about cinematic subversion, and much more. You’ve seen some of that dissected by us, and maybe other bits dissected by other sites.
But one thing that hasn’t really been discussed, perhaps cause of the sheer volume, is the second half of the podcast that focuses pretty much exclusively on British cinema. Now, the reason why Wright and Tarantino want to discuss British cinema beyond their love for the genre is because, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wright reached out to Martin Scorsese, through his assistant and sent him, what was essentially a thank you note of gratitude for all he’s done for movies.
To back up a little bit, Wright has a “master list of movies” he’s never seen, and during the pandemic, he saw approximately 350 films and “made a serious dent in this list” (much of that is listed out in Wright’s recently Pandemic Watch list which you can read here). Wright spoke about how his list was started based on the list that Martin Scorsese gave to a fan several years ago, about his favorite international films (then called foreign films), because the fan wanted to get into world cinema.
So, Wright started there with those films, knocked many of those films that he hadn’t already seen on his list, was really moved by the films he saw, and reached out to Scorsese to say thanks. But, he had little inkling to ask about British cinema.
“I think Martin Scorsese writes and talks about British film, better than most British filmmakers and critics,” Wright said, “and sometimes, you need someone like Scorsese, to tell their own country what’s great.”
So, in the P.S. of his thank you letter, he wrote, “By the way, what are your favorite British films when you were growing up? You spoke a lot about Powell & Pressburger, Hitchcock, and David Lean, what are some other ones?”
Well, Scorsese being the font of knowledge he is, basically dictated a massive list off the top of his head to his assistant and emailed it to Wright. Here it is, with Wright’s caveat, “Martin Scorsese assumes I know the famous Hammer [films] and assumes I know the Ealing [Studios] comedies.” He notes that Scorsese admits it’s an “incomplete list” for those trainspotters on the internet that want to be pendants. OK, here’s the list and note, the original one Scorsese made way back when was called, Martin Scorsese’s Lists 39 Foreign Films To See Before You Die, so since I’m the one doing all the hard work of transcribing this (lol), I’m choosing to stick with that nomenclature.
Martin Scorsese’s List Of British Cinema You Need To See (Before You Die) or perhaps a more accurate title, Martin Scorsese’s Incomplete List Of Overlooked British Cinema You Need See. Here it is:
Station Six Sahara (1963) – Dir. Seth Holt
Brief Ecstasy (1937) – dir. Edmond Gréville (also known as “Dangerous Secrets” in the U.S.)
The Halfway House (1944) – dir. Basil Dearden
Went the Day Well? (1942) – dir. Alberto de Almeida Cavalcanti
Nowhere To Go (1958) – Dir. Seth Holt
The Nanny (1965) – Dir. Seth Holt
Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945) – dir. Arthur Crabtree
The Man in Grey (1943) – dir. Leslie Arliss
So Long at the Fair (1950) – dir. Terence Fisher (known as The Black Curse in the U.S. sometimes)
Stolen Face (1952) – dir. Terence Fisher
Four Sided Triangle (1953) – dir. Terence Fisher
The Sound Barrier (1952) – dir. David Lean
This Happy Breed (1944) – dir. David Lean
Guns at Batasi (1964) – dir. John Guillermin
Green for Danger (1946) – dir. Sidney Gilliat
The Mind Benders (1963) – dir. Basil Dearden
To the Public Danger (1948) – dir. Terence Fisher
It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) – dir. Robert Hamer
A High Wind in Jamaica (1965) – dir. Alexander Mackendrick
The Queen of Spades (1949) – dir. Thorold Dickinson
Hue and Cry (1947) – dir. Charles Crichton
Pink String and Sealing Wax (1945) – dir. Robert Hamer
The Blue Lamp (1950) – dir. Basil Dearden.
The Good Die Young (1954) – dir. Lewis Gilbert
Mandy (1952) – dir. Alexander Mackendrick
Vampyres (1974) – José Ramón Larraz
Uncle Silas (1947) – known as The Inheritance in the U.S.
The Legend of Hell House (1973) – John Hough
Burn, Witch, Burn (1962) – Sidney Hayers (Night of the Eagle, UK title)
Flesh of the Fiends (1969) – dir. John Gilling
The Snorkel (1957) – dir. Guy Green
Scream of Fear (1960) – dir. Seth Holt (Taste of Fear, UK title)
These Are The Damned (1963) – dir. Joseph Losey
Plague Of The Zombies (1966) – dir. John Gilling
Quatermass and the Pit (1967) – dir. Roy Ward Baker
Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde – dir. Roy Ward Baker
The Devil Rides Out (1968) dir. – Terence Fisher
The Asphyx (1972) – dir. Peter Newbrook
Underground (1928) – dir. Anthony Asquith
Shooting Stars (1927) – dir. Anthony Asquith
Sapphire (1959)- dir. Basil Dearden.
Whistle And I’ll Come To You (1968) dir. – Jonathan Miller
Dead of Night (1945) – dir. Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Robert Hamer, Basil Dearden (anthology film)
The Enfield Haunting (2015) dir. – Kristoffer Nyholm
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987) – dir. Jack Clayton
The Pumpkin Eater (1964) – dir. Jack Clayton
The Innocents (1961) – dir. Jack Clayton
The Seventh Veil (1945) dir. – Compton Bennett
Yield To The Night (1956) dir. – J. Lee Thompson
Tarantino’s response to all this, once Wright reads it all out, “You don’t give a shout out to J. Lee Thompson??” (known for “Ice Cold in Alex,” “Cape Fear,” and “The Guns of Navarone”).
At the top, Scorsese also mentions Robert Hamer’s “Kind Hearts and Coronets” (1949) in his preamble to Wright even though it’s not quite on the proper list per se (but it makes the nice round number of 50 films mentioned), and also name-checks “The Long Good Friday” (1980). Then, if that’s not enough, Wright shared that list with Tarantino, they watched as many as they could (“I’m competitive” said Tarantino is his desire to outwatch Wright) and then proceeded to talk about their highlights for about an hour and a half! Whew. Listen below, print out this new list and make a dent in it. Enjoy!
Feb 19, 2021 Update: Wright has shared Scorsese’s email.