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Ten Classic British Film Comedies

George Cole as “Flash Harry” and Alastair Sim as Headmistress Millicent Fritton in The Belles of St. Trinian’s

In honour of the Royal Wedding—wait, belay that!—I would like to honour the British for what they made me do in my formative years, namely, to laugh my head off. I just watched one of Martine’s favorite films at her side, The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954). It starred the great Alastair Sim in two roles, as the Headmistress of St. Trinian’s School for Girls Millicent Fritton and as her scapegrace horse racing tout brother Clarence. You may recall Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge in the best version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (1951).

It suddenly hit me that I have never written about the British film comedies that help sustain me through high school and college, while I was suffering from a pituitary tumor that almost killed me in 1966. Consequently, I have put together a list of ten films that I loved and that made me laugh:

  • Passport to Pimlico (1949), directed by Henry Cornelius.
  • Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), directed by Robert Hamer. With Alec Guinness playing seven parts.
  • Whisky Galore! (1949), directed by Alexander Mackendrick. One of the very best.
  • The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), directed by Charles Crichton. Guinness again.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest (1952), directed by Anthony Asquith. On the importance of Bunburying.
  • The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954), directed by Frank Launder. Alastair Sim x 2.
  • Father Brown (1954), directed by Alexander Mackendrick. Guinness as Chesterton’s priest/detective.
  • Hobson’s Choice (1954), directed by David Lean. Charles Laughton and John Mills.
  • The Ladykillers (1955), directed by Alexander Mackendrick. Peter Sellers’s first film.
  • School for Scoundrels (1960), directed by Robert Hamer. Based on Stephen Potter’s books.

So you can wake up in the middle of the night at watch the pre-game show for the Royal Wedding, or you can laugh your ass off. Guess what I would recommend!