I always knew that ‘B’ was going to be difficult. There are just so many good films beginning with B that trying to choose some to highlight, and picking a ‘winner’ was even harder than it was yesterday, with ‘A’. If you read my recent post about my Top Ten films, the you will already suspect which film is going to come out on top this time. So many had to be left out, I was on the verge of calling a halt to my self-imposed challenge. But I started, so I will finish.
This could have been a very long post indeed, had I chosen to feature all the films beginning with B that I have enjoyed in over fifty-five years of cinema going, and collecting films on VHS and DVD. Even narrowing the field, I am still left with a hefty list of considerations. World Cinema features again, which will not surprise anyone, alongside American films, and a British classic.
I have mentioned ‘Babette’s Feast’ (1987) many times before on this blog. This magical Danish film, starring the incomparable French actress, Stephane Audran, is sheer delight, right to the end. The unusual tale of a woman who uses her life savings to prepare a lavish ‘thank you’ feast for the community that took her in as a refugee, is like nothing you will ever see again. The other foreign film beginning with B is also one I have highlighted previously. The hard-hitting drama, ‘Battle of Algiers’ (1960) is one of the most realistic and uncompromising films about the French-Algerian war ever made.
Keen observers will notice that so far, ‘Bullitt’ (1968) has not had a mention. Despite Steve McQueen being so enviably cool, and arguably the best car chase in cinema history, I don’t think it is a great film. In some ways, it feels like an episode of a very good TV cop show. But it’s worth a mention for that car chase. On to another film that has its flaws, but is a memorable ‘B’. The original 1992 version of ‘Bad Lieutenant’, starring Harvey Keitel, is a hard watch. Nudity, Rape, sexual scenes, drug use, and corrupt cops make for an uneasy film experience. That said, Keitel is mesmerising in the lead, giving perhaps his career-best performance.
Terrence Malick’s 1973 film, ‘Badlands’ might justifiably feature in anyone’s list of great films, so just had to be included in these ‘B’ selections. Beautifully shot, an unusual story based on real events, and truly amazing performances from a young Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, provide film fans with something never to be forgotten. Going back in time, the stalwart Spencer Tracy gave what for me, was his best performance, in ‘Bad Day At Black Rock’ (1955). This tale of a war veteran visiting a small desert town is a powerful drama, exploring the themes of racism and murder. And Robert Ryan pitches in as a villain, alongside not only Lee Marvin, but Ernest Borgnine too.
The films of Powell and Pressburger are legendary in cinema circles, and they made none better than ‘Black Narcissus’. (1947) I could write a whole post about this film, and one day I just might. But for now I will mention the simply sumptuous use of colour, the photography and cinematography by Jack Cardiff, and compelling central performances from Jean Simmons, Deborah Kerr, and the outstanding Kathleen Byron.
But let’s face it. On this blog, only one film that has a name starting with a ‘B’ was ever going to be the top pick. My top film of all time (so far) and Ridley Scott’s 1987 masterpiece, ‘Blade Runner’.
I have written a whole post about this film before, so will say no more about it. I will just ask one question. If you have never seen this film, then why not?