Stephen Bourne

Film historian (Brief Encounters, Black in the British Frame)

Voted for

19172019Sam Mendes
Black Narcissus1947Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Imitation of Life1959Douglas Sirk
The Member of the Wedding1953Fred Zinnemann
The Night of the Hunter1955Charles Laughton
North by Northwest1959Alfred Hitchcock
Pressure1975Horace Ové
Singin' in the Rain1951Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Some Like It Hot1959Billy Wilder
A Taste of Honey1961Tony Richardson



2019 USA, United Kingdom, Spain, India

Director Sam Mendes is in total control of a brilliantly acted (especially by George MacKay), innovative and emotional roller-coaster.

Black Narcissus

1947 United Kingdom

An erotic, sensuous and spiritual film of extraordinary power and resonance. Says Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr): “You can’t hold back nature and what is natural.” This is sheer poetry and central to the film, for Black Narcissus is telling us what is natural cannot be contained, or restrained.

Imitation of Life

1959 USA

Douglas Sirk’s glossy, disturbing melodrama powerfully exposes racism in 1950s America.

The Member of the Wedding

1953 USA

Sweet and sour, with a matchless trio of ‘misfits’ including Julie Harris, whose hyper-active character is all over the place. In contrast, Ethel Waters is the solid, motherly figure that fills the screen. It was a breakthrough for a black film actress and she is magnificent.

The Night of the Hunter

1955 USA

The nightmare of childhood is explored in Charles Laughton’s imaginative gothic horror. Robert Mitchum’s evil phony Preacher is matched by Lillian Gish’s good Bible-quoting widow who cares for orphans.

North by Northwest

1959 USA

Hitchcock’s suspense thriller takes Cary Grant on an exhilarating but frightening journey and a memorable knife-edge climax.


1975 United Kingdom

The Trinidadian Horace Ove exposes some of the harsh realities of being young, black and dispossessed in Britain in the 1970s. Raw, honest and brutal, Ove reveals the inner soul of Britain’s black working-class community at an explosive time in their history.

Singin' in the Rain

1951 USA

Pure joy from start to finish, unequalled in the movie musical canon. Who can resist joining Gene Kelly and his co-stars laughing at clouds so dark up above?

Some Like It Hot

1959 USA

Billy Wilder’s clever, sparkling comedy is hardly able to contain the high-energy performances of Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. It also has the famous words delivered by Joe E. Brown: “Nobody’s perfect.” It is the perfect punch-line for the perfect movie.

A Taste of Honey

1961 United Kingdom

A magical, atmospheric and often endearingly funny observation of ‘real’ life, which contains some of the most outstanding performances ever seen in a British film.

Further remarks

For me, this has been a subjective heart and mind exercise, not an intellectual one. I have thoroughly enjoyed it!