Classic British Crime Films

We take a look at some of the great British crime films of the last 50 years. What have we missed and do you agree with our choice?

The Italian Job (1969) – Directed by Peter Collinson

This classic caper comedy follows British criminal Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) who, having just left prison, decides to rob some gold in Italy, right under the nose of the police and the Mafia. Croker’s plan is to create a traffic jam to distract the authorities, so they can escape with the gold unnoticed. The film features the iconic Mini coopers as their getaway cars. Charlie Crocker’s line “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” is widely considered one of the most memorable lines in any film.

Get Carter (1971) – Directed by Mike Hodges

Jack Carter (Sir Michael Caine) is a cold-blooded London gangster who travels to Newcastle to arrange his brother Frank’s funeral. Sceptical of his death, Carter interrogates old colleagues and friends to find out what happened to Frank, uncovering devastating secrets and lies hidden in his seedy hometown. From there, an enraged Carter leads a bloody trail of revenge in search of Frank’s killer.

The Long Good Friday (1980) – Directed by John Mackenzie

Set in the late 1970s, English gangster Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins), is attempting to get into property and is about to close a very lucrative deal when a series of bombings target him and his territory. Convinced there is a traitor around him, Harold sets out to expose and destroy them in usual gangster manner. For his role, Bob Hoskins received a letter from Ronald Kray, one of the notorious Kray twin gangers, praising his performance.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) – Directed by Guy Ritchie

A poker game gone wrong puts four friends in £500,000 debt with only a week left to pay it back or Eddy (Nick Moran) will be forced to hand over his father’s pub. Desperate to pay back the money, Eddy and his friends rob their neighbours after overhearing them plotting to rob a group of drug dealers. However, this causes everything to spiral out of control and the boys must try and avoid being killed. This film was both Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones’ film debuts.

Sexy Beast (2000) – Directed by Jonathan Glazer

Gary ‘Gal’ Dove (Ray Winstone) is a former gangster who has made a modest amount of money from his criminal career. Happy to put his criminal ways behind him, we find him retired with his wife and close friends in the bliss of rural Spain. His idyllic life is disrupted when an old colleague, Don (Ben Kingsley), pressures Gal into doing one last job in London. Gal’s unwillingness to fall back into a life of crime ensues a battle of wills between the two men, leaving them both worse off in the end.

Layer Cake (2004) – Directed by Matthew Vaughn

A renowned cocaine dealer (Daniel Craig) plans to take an early retirement but is asked by his boss to do two more complex jobs, including kidnapping the teenage daughter of one of their rivals (Michael Gambon) and orchestrate the shipment of pills into the city. Without knowing who he can trust he must complete these tasks without getting caught in the crossfire from a Serbian gang who are after him and the pills. It was this performance of Daniel Craig’s that got him noticed for the role of James Bond.

King of Thieves (2018) – Directed by James Marsh

Based on the real-life events of the 2015 Hatton Garden heist which saw over £200 million worth of stolen jewellery and money from safety deposit boxes. The heist was pulled off by a gang of old retired crooks (Michael Caine, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Paul Whitehouse, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon), however their last robbery quickly turns into a nightmare as the authorities are on their cases.

King of Thieves is out on Digital Download, and on Blu-ray now