Art/Photography, Best Movies, Classics, Drama, Foreign-Language

The Best British New Wave Films

“What are the best British New Wave movies?” We looked at 43 of the top British New Wave films, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 23 films, all appearing on 2 or more “Best British New Wave” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 20 movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 23 British New Wave Movies



23 .) Alfie (1966) directed by Lewis Gilbert

 Alfie (1966)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • IMDB

The film tells the story of a young man who leads a promiscuous lifestyle until several life reversals make him rethink his purposes and goals in life.



22 .) Georgy Girl (1966) directed by Silvio Narizzano

 Georgy Girl (1966)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • IMDB

Georgy has resigned herself to being one of life’s accidents. She disapproves somewhat of her father’s butlering James Leamington. She’s tall, plump, sloppy and wistfully envious of what she conceives to be the life led by her beautiful, but icy roommate. Where her roommate, Meredith, is cool and calculating, Georgy gets so involved with the people around her she behaves like an affectionate puppy. Most of all she burns to be a mother. But it is Meredith that is in the hospital having an unwanted child.



21 .) Séance on a Wet Afternoon directed by Bryan Forbes

 Séance on a Wet Afternoon

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • Flickchart

Bill Savage is struggling to maintain his marriage to his increasingly unbalanced wife, Myra, who believes she is a medium. She plans a scheme that will make her famous, involving kidnapping then “psychically” locating a little girl.



20 .) The Innocents (1961) directed by Jack Clayton

 The Innocents (1961)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flickchart
  • IMDB

A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.



19 .) The Leather Boys (1964) directed by Sidney J. Furie

 The Leather Boys (1964)

Lists It Appears On:

  • I Am Hist
  • IMDB

The Leather Boys is a 1964 British drama film about the rocker subculture in London featuring a gay motorcyclist. This film is notable as an early example of a film that violated the Hollywood production code, yet was still shown in the United States, as well as an important film in the genre of queer cinema. An example of British kitchen sink realism, it was considered daring in 1964 as it touched upon homosexuality, however obliquely.



18 .) The Pumpkin Eater (1964) directed by Jack Clayton

 The Pumpkin Eater (1964)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flickchart
  • IMDB

The study of a marriage. Jo has five children and husband number two when she meets writer Jake Armitage. She leaves this husband to marry Jake, and his career takes off. A few years and at least one child later, Jo is deeply depressed, breaking down in the middle of Harrods. After psychiatric care and the prospect of a new house in the country, she gets better; then, she is pregnant again, and this time Jake objects. Jo consents to an abortion and sterilization in the belief it will make her marriage happy again, but afterwards she learns ugly truths about Jake.



17 .) A Hard Day’s Night (1964) directed by Richard Lester

 A Hard Day's Night (1964)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Filmstruck
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB

Capturing John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr in their electrifying element, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ is a wildly irreverent journey through this pastiche of a day in the life of The Beatles during 1964. The band have to use all their guile and wit to avoid the pursuing fans and press to reach their scheduled television performance, in spite of Paul’s troublemaking grandfather and Ringo’s arrest.



16 .) Darling (1965) directed by John Schlesinger

 Darling (1965)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB

A beautiful but amoral model sleeps her way to the top of the London fashion scene at the height of the Swinging Sixties.



15 .) If… directed by Lindsay Anderson

 If...

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • IMDB
  • Taste Of Cinema

Satire about a traditional English boys’ boarding school, where social hierarchy reigns supreme and power remains in the hands of distanced and ineffectual teachers and callously vicious prefects in the Upper Sixth. But three Lower Sixth students, leader Mick Travis, Wallace and Johnny decide on a shocking course of action to redress the balance of privilege once and for all.



14 .) Kes (1969) directed by Ken Loach

 Kes (1969)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Taste Of Cinema

A young, English working-class boy spends his free time caring for and training his pet falcon.



13 .) The Servant (1963) directed by Joseph Losey

 The Servant (1963)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB

A decadent London aristocrat hires a man-servant to attend to his needs. However, the balance of power starts to shift…



12 .) Tom Jones (1963) directed by Tony Richardson

 Tom Jones (1963)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Filmstruck
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB

Tom loves Sophie and Sophie loves Tom. But Tom and Sophie are of differering classes. Can they find a way through the mayhem to be true to love?



11 .) A Kind of Loving (1962) directed by John Schlesinger

 A Kind of Loving (1962)

Lists It Appears On:

  • British 60s Cinema
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Revolvy

After his girlfriend’s pregnancy forces him to marry her, a young man must adjust to his new life and contend with his domineering mother-in-law.



10 .) The Entertainer (1960) directed by Tony Richardson

 The Entertainer (1960)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Revolvy

Archie Rice, an old-time British vaudeville performer sinking into final defeat, schemes to stay in show business.



9 .) The Knack…And How To Get It directed by Richard Lester

 The Knack…And How To Get It

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • Filmstruck
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB

In England, the times are a changing: it’s mods and rockers. On the day Nancy gets off the London train, cases in hand, looking for the YWCA, Colin has had enough of missing out on the sexual revolution. He begs his smooth (and misogynistic) pal Tolen to teach him ‘the knack’ – how to score with women. Serendipitously, Colin and his new lodger Tom meet up with Nancy while Colin’s buying a bed larger than Tolen’s. The three hit it off, but their simple fun ends when Tolen meets Nancy. Colin is jealous but impotent, and Tolen both attracts and repels her. She swoons, wonders what happened, and cries ‘rape.’ Impish serendipity rubs against unsettling ambiguity.



8 .) The L-Shaped Room (1962) directed by Bryan Forbes

 The L-Shaped Room (1962)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Revolvy
  • Taste Of Cinema

Leslie Caron plays a young, pregnant, unmarried Frenchwoman who takes a room in a seedy boarding house in London. She soon makes friends with Toby, a struggling writer who lives downstairs, and eventually gets to accept her room and the strange characters in the house. But what to do about her baby? And what to do about Toby?



7 .) Billy Liar (1963) directed by John Schlesinger

 Billy Liar (1963)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Revolvy
  • Screen Online
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • Way Too Indie

A young Englishman dreams of escaping from his working class family and dead-end job as an undertaker’s assistant. A number of indiscretions cause him to lie in order to avoid the penalties. His life turns into a mess and he has an opportunity to run away and leave it all behind.



6 .) Look Back in Anger (1959) directed by Tony Richardson

 Look Back in Anger (1959)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • Filmstruck
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Revolvy
  • Screen Online
  • Taste Of Cinema

A disillusioned, angry university graduate comes to terms with his grudge against middle-class life and values.



5 .) A Taste of Honey (1961) directed by Tony Richardson

 A Taste of Honey (1961)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • British 60s Cinema
  • Filmstruck
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Revolvy
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • Way Too Indie

Focuses on a working class girl who is struggling to create a life for herself with her gay co-worker after becoming pregnant from a one-night stand with a black sailor.



4 .) Room at the Top (1959) directed by Jack Clayton

 Room at the Top (1959)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • British 60s Cinema
  • Curn Blog
  • Filmstruck
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Revolvy
  • Screen Online
  • Taste Of Cinema

In late 1940s Yorkshire, England, ambitious young man Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey), who has just moved from the dreary factory town of Dufton, arrives in Warnley, to assume a secure, but poorly-paid, post in the Borough Treasurer’s Department. Determined to succeed, and ignoring the warnings of a colleague, Soames (Donald Houston), he is drawn to Susan Brown (Heather Sears), daughter of the local industrial magnate, Mr. Brown (Donald Wolfit). He deals with Joe’s social climbing by sending Susan abroad; Joe turns for solace to Alice Aisgill (Simone Signoret), an unhappily married older woman who falls in love with him.



3 .) The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) directed by Tony Richardson

 The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • British 60s Cinema
  • Curn Blog
  • Filmstruck
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Revolvy
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • Way Too Indie

A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy’s reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs, reveries of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor’s prize runner.



2 .) Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) directed by Karel Reisz

 Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • British 60s Cinema
  • Curn Blog
  • Filmstruck
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Revolvy
  • Screen Online
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • Way Too Indie

A 22-year-old factory worker lets loose on the weekends: drinking, brawling, and dating two women, one of whom is older and married.



1 .) This Sporting Life (1963) directed by Lindsay Anderson

 This Sporting Life (1963)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bampfa
  • British 60s Cinema
  • Curn Blog
  • Filmstruck
  • Flickchart
  • IMDB
  • Revolvy
  • Screen Online
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • Way Too Indie

In Northern England in the early 1960s, Frank Machin is mean, tough and ambitious enough to become an immediate star in the rugby league team run by local employer Weaver.




The 20 Additional Best British New-Wave Movies



#MoviesDirectorsLists
24Bedazzled Bampfa
25Girl with Green Eyes (1964)Desmond DavisIMDB
26Hell Is a City (1960)Val GuestIMDB
27Kind of Loving, A (1962) 
Screen Online
28L-Shaped Room, The (1962) 
Screen Online
29
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The (1962)
 
Screen Online
30O Lucky Man! (1973)Lindsay AndersonIMDB
31Poor Cow (1967)Ken LoachIMDB
32Quadrophenia (1979)Franc RoddamIMDB
33Spring and Port Wine (1970)Peter HammondIMDB
34Taste of Honey, A (1961) 
Screen Online
35That Kind of Girl I Am Hist
36That’ll Be the Day (1973)Claude WhathamIMDB
37The Angry Silence Flickchart
38The Family Way I Am Hist
39The Little Ones I Am Hist
40This is My Street I Am Hist
41
Three Short Films by Lindsay Anderson (Free Screening!)
 Bampfa
42Up the Junction (1968)Peter CollinsonIMDB
43Woman In A Dressing Gown (1957) Curn Blog



11 Best British New Wave Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
Bampfa Look Back at England: The British New Wave
British 60s Cinema British 60s cinema
Curn Blog The British New Wave: 5 Movies About Gritty Brits
Filmstruck Angry Cinema: The British New Wave
Flickchart The Best British New Wave Movies of All Time
I Am Hist British New Wave Film |
IMDB British New Wave/ Kitchen Sink Realism
Revolvy British New Wave
Screen Online BFI Screenonline: British New Wave
Taste Of Cinema 10 Essential Films For An Introduction To The British New Wave
Way Too Indie 5 Essential British New Wave Movies Features

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