Best Classic British Films From an English Childhood – Part Two

carry on cleo
‘Carry on Cleo’ 1964

In part one of this series of classic British movies, I mentioned six of the best British movies I used to watch with my mother when I was a child. The following six are the completion of what I classify as Favorite and Best Classic British Movies From an English Childhood.

Some are war movies, some are comedies, one shows the innocence of a child who believed in Jesus, but all of them have one thing in common – they made my childhood amazing and taught me the power of a good story.

7. The Dam Busters (see trailer below). My family loved classic British World War Two movies. The Dam Busters was one of the best. From the instantly recognizable music to the scenes of the airplanes, the Lancaster Bombers, heading off to German, it is one of the best and most popular British war movies.

The Dam Busters tells the story of how the bouncing bomb was invented by the British so they could do the necessary damage to the Ruhr Dams. The daring raids into Germany that followed were part and parcel of how Britain won the war.


Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd star and are superb examples of the ‘British stiff upper lip’ behavior that was common during the Second World War.

I watched this movie with both my parents and, right up into my late teens, if it was coming on British television you could guarantee it would be a family movie night.

8.Reach for the Sky. Kenneth More, probably the nicest man to ever appear on British film, went down in history for playing the part of Douglas Bader the pilot who lost both legs in a Bristol Bulldog plane crash. In World War Two, he went on to fly in the Battle of Britain and became a national hero.

What’s interesting about this movie, even beyond the great story and acting, is that they used actual footage of the dogfights between British and German fighter pilots during the war. It is based on a true story and easily one of my top 10 favorites of all time.

9. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. A widow, played by Gene Tierney, moves to a secluded house by the sea where she is confronted by the ghost of a cantankerous sea captain, played by Rex Harrison. He attempts to frighten her off with his temper but eventually falls in love with her.


The movie starts as a light, airy film but soon grows into something moody and tragic. My mother and I watched this movie many times, always looking forward to the ending when they can finally be together. It’s impossible love at its best.

10. Carry on Screaming. The Carry On movies were some of the funniest movies in the classic British film genre. They were all spoofs of different movie genres, this one being a very smart spoof of British horror movies.

Kenneth Williams (the campiest man in British TV) is in his best role ever, and Fenella Fielding plays a wonderful femme fatale. Williams is the madman who kidnaps women then turns them into shop mannequins and sells them to local stores.

There are some of the funniest and smartest in-the-know jokes in this movie with over-the-top hilarious performances. The best Carry On movie in the series in my opinion.

11. Carry On Cleo. The Carry On gang is back and this time the movie includes ‘regulars’ Sid James, Joan Sims and Kenneth Connor. The gang is now in Egypt with Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile. The movie looks more authentic than usual as they managed to borrow the sets that had just been used for the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton movie ‘Cleopatra’.

You have to see this movie just to see the scene with the bike with the square wheels and to see Kenneth Williams in a toga. Funniest things ever!

whistle down the wind

12.Whistle Down the Wind. Starring a young Hayley Mills, this was my favorite movie as a child. It is the story of three children, whose mother has died, and how they find ‘Jesus’ in their barn. Although the man is actually an escaped murderer, the children with the innocence of childhood, continue to believe he is Jesus even as all evidence to the contrary mounts up.

The movie was filmed in the area I grew up in, and I loved it because of its young star and because it showed the bleakness of the moors.

Six more movies I watched with my Mum. Any of which, if I had never seen it, my childhood would have been the lesser for it.


Michelle Topham