2023 Classic Film Anniversaries

Classic Film Anniversaries in 2023

This year is packed full of classic film anniversaries, from menacing Brit noirs to enduring comedies. Art & Hue rounds-up the milestones of beloved & cult films to celebrate in 2023.

Brighton Rock Anniversary

Brighton Rock 75th Anniversary
In the classic Brit noir “Brighton Rock”, Richard Attenborough’s breakthrough film role casts him as gang leader Pinkie Brown.

First screened to the trade & cinema distributors on the 25th of November 1947, the film held the World Premiere in Brighton on the 8th of January 1948, followed by a Gala Premiere at the Leicester Square Warner Cinema London on the 9th of January 1948.

A Boulting Brothers production, with a screenplay by Graham Greene & Terence Rattigan, “Brighton Rock” was a hit at the cinema, despite newspapers criticising the depiction of violence.

Involving an innocent waitress in his scheme to cover up the murder of a journalist in the Sussex town, the film’s dramatic ending plays out on Brighton’s Palace Pier.

The Titfield Thunderbolt Anniversary

The Titfield Thunderbolt 70th Anniversary
A classic Ealing comedy, much-loved by film fans and train enthusiasts alike, “The Titfield Thunderbolt” was the first Ealing Comedy to be made in colour, Technicolor in fact, and the fourth to be directed by Charles Crichton.

Pre-empting the savage cuts to the railways made by Beeching’s axe in the 1960s, “The Titfield Thunderbolt” sees a group of villagers attempting to keep their branch line running after it’s earmarked for closure.

A picturesque snapshot of rural England in the 1950s, the film stars Stanley Holloway, John Gregson, George Relph, Naunton Wayne, & Sid James.

Inspired by the Talyllyn Railway, which was restored and preserved as a heritage railway, the charming film features a regular Ealing trope of the underdog, in this case the villagers, battling a larger bureaucratic enemy, represented by the freshly-nationalised British Railways.

The Titfield Thunderbolt” had its Gala Premiere at London’s Leicester Square Theatre on the 5th of March 1953, as part of the British Film Academy’s award ceremony, before going on general release from the 6th.

Carry On Films Anniversary

2023 marks 65 Years of Carry On films
This year is a special anniversary for fans of classic film & British comedy as it’s 65 years since the first classic Carry On production, “Carry On Sergeant”, was released in 1958.

Carry On Sergeant laid the groundwork for the most prolific British film series (yes, longer than Bond). This successful first film was screened to the trade and cinema-bookers on the 1st of August 1958 after which some regional screenings were held from the 31st of August 1958 including Aberdeen & Birmingham.

It wasn’t until the 19th of September 1958 that it received its London cinema release at the Plaza, and then the film rolled out nationwide on general release from the 20th of September onwards. Without the success of the first Carry On, there simply wouldn’t have been all the films that followed in its path.

See more about the 65 Years of Carry On films here.

Billy Liar Anniversary

Billy Liar 60th Anniversary
John Schlesinger’s film adaptation of Keith Waterhouse’s novel “Billy Liar“, starring Julie Christie, premiered in London at the Warner cinema on the 15th of August 1963.

With Tom Courtenay, Leonard Rossiter, Helen Fraser, Rodney Bewes, Mona Washbourne, & Wilfred Pickles, “Billy Liar” introduced Julie Christie to cinema-goers as the free-spirited Liz and, even though she was only onscreen for a relatively short amount of time, she captivated audiences as the embodiment of 1960s carefree and adventurous youth.

Watching her performance in “Billy Liar” with contemporary eyes, her natural talent and modernity seems to have been transplanted back into the 1960s like a time traveller.

Filmed in Bradford, the film contrasts its kitchen-sink setting with fantasy sequences of Billy’s Ambrosia daydreams. The film was revolutionary as well as influential, and still appears on many lists of top British films of all time.

Summer Holiday Anniversary

Summer Holiday 60th Anniversary
On the 10th of January 1963, the classic Cliff Richard musical film “Summer Holiday” had its world premiere at the Warner Cinema in London.

Perhaps Cliff’s most popular film musical, the catchy title song of “Summer Holiday” instantly puts the listener into a summery mood and it’s impossible not to think of Cliff behind the wheel of the London bus when listening to it.

In the same year, on the 2nd of June 1963, the Cliff Richard song “Summer Holiday” was released as a single and topped the music charts.

Filmed at Elstree Studios and on location in Greece, the iconic red London bus travelling through Europe accompanied by memorable songs still endures in the memory.

The Wicker Man Anniversary

The Wicker Man 50th Anniversary
It seems the studio didn’t know what to make of “The Wicker Man” leading to a convoluted release schedule which thankfully did nothing to dim its growing status as a cult film.

The Wicker Man” was first screened to the trade & cinema distributors on the 3rd of December 1973.

Following test screenings to the public at the Metropole cinema in London, which ran for a week starting on the 6th of December 1973, the first “official” public screenings were the Scottish “premieres” on the 13th of January 1974 ahead of the nationwide rollout starting in Birmingham on the 19th before finally opening “officially” at the London Odeon on the 7th of February 1974.

Part-horror, part-thriller, part-musical, “The Wicker Man” stars Edward Woodward as Sergeant Howie, Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle, and Britt Ekland as Willow.

Despite the studio’s reluctance to fully support the film at the time of release, cutting the running time and demoting it to supporting-picture status under the classic horror “Don’t Look Now” (what a scary walk home from the picture house it must have been for cinemagoers after watching that double-bill), the recognition of “The Wicker Man” has grown over the years to become a much-admired cult classic of British cinema.

Christopher Lee considered it to be his best work and the film’s longevity is testament to Anthony Shaffer’s great screenplay & Robin Hardy’s direction – the final shot alone is cinematic perfection.

In its 50th anniversary year, “The Wicker Man” is soon to get a new lease of life in a 2023 television series created by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish’s production company The Imaginarium and Studiocanal-backed Urban Myth Films.

More upcoming classic film anniversaries in 2023

These are just some of the film anniversaries taking place in 2023 – there are more film milestones, as well as TV events, to celebrate this year.

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Classic Film Anniversaries in 2023

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