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Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 00:37 GMT 01:37 UK


Third Man tops British film chart

The BFI poll celebrates a century of the British film

Carol Reed's 1949 thriller The Third Man leads a host of screen classics in a chart of the British film industry's favourite homegrown movies of the century.

The BBC's Palminder Sandhu: "Trainspotting- the only nineties film in the top ten"
In the poll of Britain's 100 best celluloid offerings - compiled by the British Film Institute (BFI) - 1,000 producers, directors, critics and actors put only one recent movie in the top 10.

Despite talk of a renaissance in British film-making, only 1995's controversial Trainspotting - which scraped in at number 10 - could compete with the likes of Carol Reed's atmospheric masterpiece.

[ image: High times:Trainspotting is the only recent film to make its mark]
High times:Trainspotting is the only recent film to make its mark
That The Third Man scooped top honours is of little surprise to cinema buffs. The BFI reckons the film, which starred Orson Welles, "is a bona fide British classic".

Set in the underworld of post-war Vienna, the black and white film's rakish camera angles and stark lighting rivalled the best Hollywood film noirs.

Film critic Derek Malcolm: "I'm very upset that there are no Hammer films on the list"
Cinematographer Robert Krasker picked up an Oscar for his efforts, in the same year that Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard and John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle were up for awards.

Despite the cracking cast - including Joseph Cotton and Trevor Howard - and a screenplay by novelist Graham Greene, the success of the film has much to do with Anton Karas's haunting zither soundtrack.

[ image: High profile: Director David Lean dominates the top 100]
High profile: Director David Lean dominates the top 100
Although Carol Reed claims the top slot, it is director David Lean who dominates the poll.

Brief Encounter, his 1945 adaptation of Noel Coward's play Still Life, is number two in the list. The much loved tear-jerker managed to edge out another Lean classic, and the poll's first "epic", Lawrence of Arabia.

Lean's definitive Dickens adaptation, Great Expectations, comes in at number five - with Bridge on the River Kwai, Dr Zhivago, Oliver Twist and In Which We Serve also featuring.

Although much of his best work was done in the United States, Alfred Hitchcock figures at number four with his 1935 adventure The 39 Steps.

[ image:  ]
With Ken Loach's gritty 1969 film Kes and Nicolas Roeg's 1970s supernatural thriller Don't Look Now also in the top 10 - the poll has not favoured contemporary film makers.

Chariots of Fire, which was lavished with Oscars, is the only film from the 1980s to make it into the top 20.

More recent smash hits such as The Full Monty (1997) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) can be found even further down the rankings.

Ealing comedies have fared better. Kind Hearts and Coronets makes it into the top ten with The Ladykillers and Charles Crichton's The Lavender Hill Mob not far behind.

[ image: Michael Caine's Get Carter heads his many entries in the chart]
Michael Caine's Get Carter heads his many entries in the chart
Crichton, who died on 14 September, aged 89, also won votes for his 1988 comedy comeback A Fish Called Wanda - which came 39th.

As for actors, Sir Alec Guinness can be seen in a staggering six of the top 20 movies voted for.

Michael Caine's prodigious screen career also seems to have paid dividends - with the cockney star featuring in a least seven of the top-rated films.

Bawdy comedy Carry On Up the Kyber is at number 99, bringing up the rear of the list, as it were.

Click here to see the BFI's top 100 in full.

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