Before They Were Famous

This assorted collection gathers the early roles of some of the most famous British stars of film and TV before they hit the big time and became household names. From bright young stars in comedy to astounding breakthrough performances and memorable direction, they each offer a thrilling glimpse of what was to come.

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  • Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon

    Daniel Craig plays George Dyer, petty crook turned artist's muse, in this unconventional biopic of painter Francis Bacon (an uncanny portrayal by Derek Jacobi). The 1960s Soho demi-monde, centred on the infamous Colony Room, is artfully realised by director John Maybury, both seedy and seductive ...

  • The Lair of the White Worm

    In a remote corner of England's Peak District, a mysterious skull is unearthed. But even weirder is that Lady Sylvia steals the skull for use in worshipping - very erotically - her pagan god, The White Worm, who hungers for the taste of virginal flesh. Ken Russell has great fun revelling in the d...

  • The Man Who Haunted Himself

    Conservative executive Harold Pelham (a harrowing and atypical performance by Roger Moore) is involved in a car accident and declared momentarily dead. When he's eventually released from the hospital, Pelham discovers that an exact double of him has recently been seen in places that he's never be...

  • Some People

    Cult musical drama about a leather-jacketed rocker who forms a Shadows-style guitar band under the tutelage of a hip youth club leader, incurring the wrath of his old biker gang buddies. This unlikely mixture of juvenile delinquency flick and promotional film for the Duke of Edinburgh Award schem...

  • The Magnet

    In his first starring role, an 11-year-old James Fox (then known as William) plays Johnny, an over-imaginative child who tricks a younger boy out of his prized magnet. Troubled by his conscience, he gives the magnet away - but the guilt isn't so easy to lose.

  • Soapbox Derby

    A young Michael Crawford stars as the leader of the Battersea Bats, a fresh-faced gang that's determined to best deadly rivals the Victorias in the upcoming soapbox derby.

  • Sweet Sixteen

    The second of Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty's run of Scotland-set films, Sweet Sixteen is set on a bleak estate in the former shipbuilding town of Greenock. Newcomer Martin Compston puts in a powerful performance as the teenager Liam who turns to drug-dealing in an effort to escape from...

  • Boy and Bicycle

    Ridley Scott’s first film – featuring his younger brother, the late Tony Scott, as a schoolboy playing truant for the day to meander around Hartlepool on his bicycle – is a far cry from the director’s Hollywood blockbusters, a lyrical and highly personal evocation of the early sixties North East.

  • Loving Memory

    The debut feature by future Hollywood star director Tony Scott is a dark, surreal piece about a couple who accidentally kill a young man while out driving their car. Taking him home, the woman treats the boy as if he were her own - and as if he were still alive. She finds happiness by talking to ...

  • Terminus

    In his first cinema film, made at British Transport Films, John Schlesinger presents a day in the life of Waterloo Rail Station. Now a staple television format, this observational look at the workings of one of London’s key railway hubs was considered innovative in 1961, winning it awards at Veni...

  • French Dressing

    Evocative, stylish and visually stunning, this gently anarchic first feature by the legendary Ken Russell is tremendous fun. Not much happens in the sleepy town of Gormleigh-on-Sea, so modish deckchair attendant Jim (James Booth) decides to stage a Cannes-style film festival with friends Henry (R...

  • Herostratus

    When a young poet (Michael Gothard, the brilliant character actor who excelled in films such as The Devils and The Valley Obscured by Clouds) hires a marketing company to turn his suicide into a mass-media spectacle, he finds that his subversive intentions are quickly diluted into a reactionary g...

  • Friendship's Death

    Friendship (Tilda Swinton) has been sent to Earth on a peace mission. Heading for MIT, she inadvertently lands in Amman, Jordan during the 1970 ‘Black September’ war and is ushered to safety by journalist Sullivan (Bill Paterson). Holed up in a hotel as the conflict rages outside, the pair enter ...

  • Play Me Something

    Tilda Swinton stars in a playful and ingenious cine-essay from art critic John Berger (Ways of Seeing) and author/filmmaker Timothy Neat.

  • Amelia and the Angel

    In this charming early short from British cinema maverick Ken Russell, a young girl, cast as an angel in the school play, is distraught when her brother steals and damages her treasured wings. Pocket money in hand, Amelia traverses London on the hunt for a new pair in time for the play. Mercedes ...

  • Time Gentlemen Please!

    Classic British comedy of the early 1950s. Because of its high productivity and almost 100 per cent employment, the town of Hayhoe, England is expecting a visit from the Prime Minister. The 'almost' is because of Dan Dance (Eddie Byrne), an old rogue who would rather drink and philosophise than w...

  • Johnny on the Run

    A superb early work by illustrious British director Lewis Gilbert (Alfie, You Only Live Twice) which follows orphaned Polish refugee Janek, who runs into trouble in the shape of two scheming thieves.

  • Champagne

    Father-daughter tensions arise when a millionaire (Harker), suspecting his playgirl daughter's fiancé is a gold-digger, pretends the family fortune is gone. A bubbly comic parable built around Betty Balfour's effervescent energy, the film is an early example of Hitchcock's long-term fascination w...

  • Carry On Sergeant

    When a bunch of new recruits are called up for national service, they are given to Sergeant Grimshawe (William Hartnell) as his final troop before he retires. The Sergeant decides to place a £50 bet with his fellow sergeants that his new group will become champion squad. However upon assessing hi...

  • The Gold Diggers

    The ground-breaking first feature from the director of Orlando and The Tango Lesson, The Gold Diggers is a key film of early '80s feminist cinema. Made with an all-woman crew, featuring stunning photography by Babette Magolte and a score by Lindsay Cooper it embraces a radical and experimental na...

  • One of the Missing

    A soldier, out on reconnaissance in the American Civil War, finds himself trapped - buried alive and alone under the rubble of a fallen wall - deep in enemy territory. Unable to move, he is overcome by a mad terror as he hallucinates and awaits his almost certain death. This potent short, based o...

  • Momma Don't Allow

    This lively Free Cinema short captures a night out at the Wood Green Jazz Club, where teenagers jive to trad jazz. Funded by the BFI Experimental Film Fund, it was filmed over the course of nine Saturdays by Karel Reisz, then programmer of the National Film Theatre, and a young BBC television dir...

  • At Last the 1948 Show volume 1

    Before Monty Python's Flying Circus and The Goodies there was At Last the 1948 Show, the ground-breaking comedy sketch series starring John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Marty Feldman, and Aimi MacDonald. This compendium features the first ever episode (discovered many years later in...

  • At Last the 1948 Show volume 2

    Before Monty Python's Flying Circus and The Goodies there was At Last the 1948 Show, the ground-breaking comedy sketch series starring John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Marty Feldman, and Aimi MacDonald. Highlights of this package include brilliant a solo turn from Brooke-Taylor as ...