60s British films are increasingly available on DVD, and it was fascinating to note, when re-reading Robert Murphy's 'British Sixties Cinema' recently, that he had been unable to see two films - A Place to Go and The Small World of Sammy Lee - which are both now freely available on DVD (I have both of them). In that spirit here is a round up of some of the more interesting releases and the companies involved, with the page having been last updated in July 2015.
Renown films have issued a lot of DVDs, particularly B-movie crime films, at their website www.renownfilms.co.uk, and if you join their film club (free to join) you they sometimes have 5 DVDs for £20, working out at £4 a DVD. As some of them are double bills, this works out at only £2 a film, which is excellent value. Here are some of the films I've bought from them:
Renown seem to have a 'sister' outlet (not sure of the exact relationship) which is Talking Pictures TV, on Sky TV channel 328, with the schedules now in the Radio Times and they can also be be seen on their website at http://talkingpicturestv.co.uk/schedule/
Most of the British films they show are obviously ones from their DVD list, although at around the same time, maybe as a direct response, Movies4Men are showing a lot of such films at the time of writing late at night, such as Serena, Impact and Blind Spot.
Renown also do some very good collections, for example there are currently [May 2018] three collections of crime films, many from the laste 50s/early 60s, as shown below:
Network on Air, in my view, have established themselves over the last couple of years as the main place to go for British films, here's the link to their website: http://networkonair.com/
I've now bought a lot of DVDs from them, particularly as they often have big sales, one just ended on 03 July 2015 and I bought 10 DVDs from them at only £4.19 each, here are some of the DVDs I've bought off them over the last year or two:
Odeon Entertainment (www.odeonent.co.uk) have issued a large number of more obscure British films, some under their 'Best of British' banner, along with quite a few 'double bill' editions of 'B' films. Their prices can be a bit steep though, so well worth looking around for the best value buys. I have some, but not all, of the DVDs pictured; I can particularly recommend the double bills of The Painted Smile/Rag Doll and Jungle Street/A Matter of Choice, as well as the excellent and little-seen Saturday Night Out with Colin Campbell, Francesca Annis and Bernard Lee.
As one might expect, the BFI issue some very good DVD editions, for example Saturday Night and Sunday Morning & The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. These come complete with booklets on the film, but the main bonus with these editions is the Free Cinema documentaries - We are the Lambeth Boys, Karel Reisz's documentary from 1959 on the Saturday Night and Sunday Morning DVD and Momma don't allow, Tony Richardson's film on The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner DVD.
Just about [20 May 2018] to get my pre-release DVD copy of a BFI release, 'Woodfall: a revolution in British cinema' which is available in DVD or Blu-Ray, which has 8 films - Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, A Taste of Honey, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Tom Jones, The Girl with Green Eyes and The Knack - released between 1959 and 1965. Now ordinarily this is excellent value (I got a discount as I was at the recent Renown festival) but I already have 4 of those films, so had to weigh up whether I could justify buying them again, but you only live once, and I was promised that there were 'lots' of extras, so what the hell. I've also managed to not see Tom Jones, so looking forward to that one. Order through the BFI shop.
Just got hold of a box set of 5 films - Hunted, Sapphire, So long at the Fair, Turn the key softly and 21 Days - for £9.99 from a company which I've not dealt with before called sendit.com. Although I've already got Sapphire, that still comes out at about 4 films for £12 (p&p is added, unlike on play.com). Play.com's price is £17.99, so I'm keeping an eye on sendit now, although some of their deals are not as good as at first glance, given the p&p costs.
I've just seen Hunted, and watched Turn the key softly not long ago, but looking forward to the others, now that I've got a few days off work and a bit of time at last.
BFI have also brought out a number of lesser-known films in their 'Flipside' series, many of them in dual format DVD and Blu-Ray with excellent pamphlets to provide a background to the films. Here are some of them - I certainly recommend The Party's Over, Bronco Bullfrog, Deep End and the often-overlooked The Pleasure Girls. I've now written about most of these on the 'unsung films' section of this site, and the BFI are releasing more all the time, such as Beat Girl (right) with Adam Faith.
Paul Canty, who contacted me via this site, has put me on to a company that deal in hard-to-get DVDs, stojo (www.stojo.com). I bought The Strange Affair from them (only £3.99 plus P&P) which plays OK but is of poor quality, so I pondered whether to get any more, but they do a deal whereby if you buy £32 or more the p&p is free, so I bought 9 films in one go, followed by another 9 recently (Jan 2013). I haven't bought any more from them since (now Aug 2014) as I can now get hard-to-get films mainly from myrarefilms (see below).
I've been doing some research on the 'spiv cycle' of films in the late 40s, along wtih 'morbid thrillers' from roughly the same period over the last year or so, and done a lot of mooching about the internet to see if I can get hold of some of the film I need to see. I've latched onto three websites in particular:
The first is the cheapest, at only £1.99, but has the least choice, although I've bought films such as Wanted for Murder (1946, wtih Eric Portman) and Appointment with Crime (1946) from them.
I've already bought quite a few from myrarefilms, their films are £5, if you buy 5 you get an extra one free and they have other titles so worth asking via their contact form; a very good selection of obscure 40s films in particular. They do actually have a lot of others from the 40s/50s/60s so it's worth sending them an e-mail to see what they have, they are always helpful and deliver on time. Best of all perhaps is that they are very clear that the quality of the DVD is like, so when it's poor you are always told and you then know exactly what you're getting.
Although on the surface narkover's DVDs are the most expensive at £7.99, they do good deals such as 4 for £20 etc. I bought some DVDs from them (Ring of Spies was one I think, although that's since been released commercially), but there was quite a kerfuffle with methods of payment (paypal didn't work, so I wrote a cheque in the end) so I haven't gone back; by and large you can get what you want from myrarefilms.
All of these sites are recommended, if anyone knows of any others please let me know.