I’ll probably get blamed for that.

After Hours (1985)   Scorsese’s finest? Definitely his most underrated picture, even given it has found its own loyal niche. After Hours is atypical in the sense of embracing a broader comic flair, broader even than the satirical swipe of The Wolf of Wall Street. It also manages to be one of his most human movies, in spite of a technical engagement suggestive of early Coen Brothers or Sam Raimi, where exaggerated camera movement and impactive editing are as – or more – foregrounded as performance. An early entry in the “Yuppie nightmare” subgenre (see also Something Wild), After Hours is also party to urban terrors

You know, detectives in glass houses shouldn’t wave clues.

Blackmail (1929)   Hitchcock’s first sound film (also shot as a silent), Blackmail finds him hitting his groove, a step up and on from The Lodger, where he first landed in his natural crime genre habitat. This is where his suspense muscle really begins firing on all cylinders, though – if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor – adapting Charles Bennett’s play (Bennett would go on to further cement the director’s milieu with The 39 Steps, Secret Agent and Sabotage) and using every opportunity to milk the tension from every situation for all its worth. The plot finds Alice (Anny Ondra, working with the director again following The Manxman) fobbing

Down ‘ere they say the lighthouse is haunted. And what’s more, blokes go mad and kill themselves.

The Phantom Light (1935)   This lighthouse-set comedy thriller represents one of Michael Powell’s early films, made a couple of years before his career “proper” took off with The Edge of the World. He was making “quota-quickies” during this period, cheap-and-cheerful no-frills productions resulting from the requirement for UK American distributors and British cinema owners to screen a quota of British films. As you’d expect, Powell ensures it all looks pretty good, despite the budget constraints, while the presence of Gordon Harker in the lead role ensures it’s also pretty funny. The set-up – Harker’s lightkeeper Sam Higgins takes over the

Do you think that we Hollanders who threw the sea out of our country will let the Germans have it? Better the sea.

One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942)   Noel Coward went on to employ most of the crew from this Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger film, following a set visit that mightily impressed him (including editor David Lean and cinematographer Ronald Neame). He’d have been better to just ask Powell to direct In Which We Serve, which is both stagey and mannered; it hasn’t aged nearly as well as Aircraft, the first production from P&P’s The Archers production company. The Archers was formed as a result of a bet between Powell and cinema mogul Arthur Rank, who informed the director that the