I recommend Carol Reed's Odd Man Out. It stars James Mason as a dying IRA gunman and has all the expressionist camera angles you would expect in a film made in Reed's heyday. And it reassuring to see that in those days the IRA stopped for a cup of tea before going out on a mission.
Of the films I have not seen before, Clash by Night, a 1964 release with Peter Sallis as the leading criminal ("Have you got the shooters, Gromit?") looks promising.
The BBC is also showing Hell Drivers, which I wrote about here when it was shown last year:
It deals with dangerous practices in the road haulage industry, and is rather more involving than that makes it sound, even if the footage of lorries careering around corners is rather too obviously speeded up.
But this film's glory is its cast, and lovers of cult TV and of old British films should certainly watch it or tape it.
Two moments stand out. One is the climax: the hero is Stanley Baker, and he is involved in a lorry chase at the end of the film. (I cannot recall if he is the hunter or the quarry.) The other lorry is driven by Patrick McGoohan and his passenger is William Hartnell.
That's right: The Prisoner and Doctor Who in the same cab.
For Man from Uncle fans, there is also an appearance by David McCallum early on.
The other great moment is a table football game near the beginning of the film in which the four participants are:
- Gordon Jackson
- Alfie Bass
- Herbert Lom
- A young Sean Connery
Yes, James Bond is in it too.
And when are the films on?
- Odd Man Out: Wednesday 1 August, 11.35 a.m.
- Hell Drivers: Wednesday 1 August, 11.50 p.m.
- Clash by Night: Thursday 2 August, 1.35 a.m.
All on BBC2 .