I am in tears reading your letter to skai. I am so sorry for your loss Peter. I just walked by your house and saw cars but no lights on in front. I know what you are going through from past experiences but this is so fresh and heartbreakingly painful. My heart goes out to you. Hugs, and love. I know you loved him BIG! May the many wonderful memories of times you shared with him bring you peace. No words I can say will make things better. The love and healing of our animal companions is unconditional and timeless. I see as an empath and psychic bonds beyond explanation. My heart hurts for you as the pain of loss is still fresh in mine.
What an amazing life you gave him and what amazing gifts he gave you in return. I always say, I did a lot for my boy in the end but I would do it all again in a heartbeat because of all he did to take care of me. My heart breaks with you! Forever in my heart. Debbie Benson? My Dear Dr. Peter, the best vet in the world.
A big hug from me and Adera. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I am deeply sorry for your loss. Skai is a beautiful soul and I can feel your love for him every time I read your posts; it warms my heart to feel such love. May fond memories ease your pain. My sweet boy got his wings last September and he was the world to me as well. You had a very special relationship and be very proud of the wonderful life you provided to Skai.
Big hug! Thank you for sharing such an emotional, true, tender, raw reminder of the love that we give and get from these special four legged blessings that come into our lives. There are no words to express how sorry I am for your loss. My heart is very heavy with learning of the passing of Skai but it is also refreshed in reading of how much love this boy brought into your life and I am sure many others.
Debbie Benson. I am so sorry to hear about your baby. He sounded like an amazing guy. When I first read about him it gave me hope that my boys would be around for several more years. I had two German Shorthair Pointers. I just lost boy Chief on May 7th when they found a tumor that ruptured in his spleen.
My hearts aches because I miss him so much. My heart,aches for you as well. I am deeply sorry to hear of your loss. Skai was an inspiration to me, to the point that I changed the way I cared for my babies. I wanted them to be as healthy and happy as he was. I am going to miss his blogs and adventures. Rest in Love Skai Wantstofly! He was a collie husky x and 7 years since Maguire my malamute passed. They were both my rock in bad times and the most fun to just hang out with all the time. I was so fortunate to have had them in my life and would have them both back in a New York minute…..
May he RIP and may you, and all who had the pleasure of knowing him remember him with love. Stay strong. I am so so sorry to hear about Skai. He sounds like he was one amazing dog. Truly a very sad day. My thoughts are with you. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your beautiful companion, Skai. God sent Skai to you.
To be your best friend, your teacher, your guardian, to show you love. In return you were his DAD, his friend, his guardian and returned that beautifu love to him. My heart likewise is broken along with you. It is so important to think about what you had together. Just picture the peace he is experiencing in Heaven and will continue to be watching out for you.
You have come full circle and will be together again one day. Bless you. One day you will realize time is healing. It will happen. My heart aches for you, and all who knew this beautiful friend. My heart is absolutely breaking. Having lost our first soul mate Montana and many things has taught me that there is no greater heartbreak.
Thank God you could be there with him at least for his last few hours. Our hearts are with you. Skai, you were very special to those of us lucky enough to meet you, we will see you again. Oh Peter …. I am so sorry ,,, I dreaded reading this post.. I cried as I read your words as I can only imagine your deep deep sadness and loss. The grief journey you are embarking on is a testament to the unconditional love and bond shared with Skai. One day, the cloud will lift and the memories will not only provide you peace and serenity, but your heart will smile at having known such a beautiful soul.
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You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. I let all of my dogs go when they let me know it was time. Only one had to die on his own because the vet refused to believe me when I said he was dying. All of them are still close in my heart. Very sorry you had to let Skai go. With each dog we love and then help pass it gets harder instead of easier. Peter, I hope you take some time for yourself to grieve your boy. His love will never leave you, in fact he is now part of you. Blessings to you and your family. Your love letter to Skai is awesome.
He waited for your return and how blessed you were to comfort him. That shows how much he loved you in return. Love endures for eternity. I believe you will be united again, in time. That is your wish and his. So heartbroken…. Dobias, please know that Skye is free and happy, and looks down at you with love and gratitude…. Much love, Sharon in Miami. Dear Dr. D: During this last year, I had to say goodbye to both of my dearest friends, aged 16 and I am heartbroken for your loss of your best friend. I know Skai will always be with you tucked in your heart and guiding you through the rest of your life.
They are truly Angels amoung us.???? Skai is an inspiration to me for my 10 year old Coco. Thank you so much for all you shared. We are both crying for you and Skai. We will miss the adventures. Our Aussie is now 14 and not doing very well and after reading your story we realize that a decision must be made for his best interest. I know we hold on too long hoping for a miracle but in reality it is inevitable. I was frequently checking your site, looking for updates on Skai, and so sad to hear this news. I am so glad you were able to get home to him. God bless you all. Times like these, words are so inadequate.
Their unconditional love goes beyond physical realms, and remains beyond those same realms and more.
Simply brilliant. Because you might actually succeed in accomplishing exactly what you came there to find. Hybrids are also known as wolf dogs. Francesca Johnson, a beautiful Italian woman who married an American soldier to flee war-ravaged Italy, looks forward to a rare four days alone on her Iowa farm when her family heads to the State Fair. The sparkling Curse Of The Were-Rabbit positively brims with ideas and energy, dazzling movie fans with sly references to everything from Hammer horrors and The Incredible Hulk to King Kong and Top Gun , and bounds along like a hound in a hurry. She loves to run laps in the snow. To keep your balance you have to keep moving.
I often wonder, who is really the Guardian? Godspeed Skai! Thank you for telling us all of Mr. My heart breaks for you. It is clear Skai was a very special being. Take care of yourself and know others are thinking of you and Skai. Thanks to both you and Skai for the work you have done. I have followed you and Skai for many years and had good luck with your products. I am very sorry for your loss and having a very tough time here in Victoria. My Collie still wants vto walk everyday. Oh Dr. D, I am heartbroken for you. Tears are rolling down my face as I think of you and Skai and those who love both of you.
As soon as I discovered your website ,I could feel through your writings just how much Skai meant to you, just as my Ari means to me. My dog is ten and I follow the same way of taking so much care of him as you did for Skai Thanks to you and Skai , I think he still has many good years. I know this might sound crazy, but when you are at your stillist you will feel him around you.
That is because he is around you. These are such special souls. Both of you have helped so many. He is there to help you get through this , if you listen in your stillness. RIP Skai ,one of the best dogs I never met. D and Skai….. You will meet again and soar together. He is waiting for you in the Happy Hunting Grounds……. Heartbreaking news of your beautiful pal Skai. I am just heartbroken. I was praying that Mr. Skai would heal. I am crying now , both for you and for myself.
He was 11 years 9 months old. I have never felt a sadness and loneliness that I felt that time ….. I can only say I am so so so sorry for Mr. Skai passing away. Sincerely Ulla. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet Skai. There is no greater love than our dogs and when they pass the pain is at times unbearable. I have tears thinking of what you are going thru but the years of love and devotion and memories is priceless.
You were a wonderful dad to Skai and Skai had wonderful life. So sorry to hear about the loss of your boy! I too know the pain of losing a fur child…my miniature Schnauzer passed away at the age of her name was Jaqueline. She too waited for all the family to come home to say goodbye to us.
She could barely walk but she climbed up onto her favorite spot on the sofa-she loved sitting next to the window to scare away the squirrels that would dig up our plants. She protected us in every way she could. My heart is with you and your family. Sorry for your loss. Hope the pain of his loss subsides and happy memories help to soothe the pain. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dear sweet Skai. My thoughts and prayers are with you and everyone who loved him. Our pets are such a part of us. Our 17 yo whippet Ksee is starting to fade and it saddens me so.
Take comfort in your many memories and know we are grieving with you. I cannot make it through your letter to Skai. I am crying for you and your immense loss. For my own losses, for anyone who has loved and lost a beautiful fur-friend and for the fur creatures who have no one to love them as surely as you loved Skai. I am so sorry. I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. I had so hoped that once you got home Skai would improve. The loss of a best friend like Skai is unbearably painful.
But he will forever live on in your heart. P Skai. I lost my Elly just a month,still hurting and is difficult time. Be strong. Skai — He will always be with you. My prayers go out to you Peter, What precious memories of you both to have and to hold in your heart forever. I am so sorry that time came and one more time so grateful you shared this with us. I had a similar relation with my passed away doggy : he pulled me up, made me discover I wanted and could do better, saved me so many times.
Peter and family, I am so sad and sorry to read this post. I have been thinking about you as I read your post, that you were heading home. I so hoped the outcome would be better. Thoughts are with you at this difficult time. You have so many great memories to cherish. We lost our beloved mini-schnauzer unexpectedly, nearly 7 years ago now.
Perhaps she and Skai are enjoying a game of fetch or something as I write this. God bless xxxxxx. The moment I saw your facebook post, my heart stopped. After reading your letter, my heart has broken into countless pieces. I am sooo very sorry to hear the news of Skai…. You provided such an amazing life to Skai. I am so very sorry…. Dr Dubias,we are terriably sorry to here about the accident and death of Sakai,it really break our heart, we lost our ten year old lab last year and it is very heart broken so we know just how you felt our deepest sympathy to you god be with you.
This is so heartbreaking, so many tears are being shed all over the world tonight. My deepest condolences to you Dr. Peter and your family and all those who loved Skai. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures throughout the years. Rest in Peace dear Skai.
So very sorry to hear what has happened. We know the pain, but yours is doubly so with Skai being a service dog. Please accept our condolences and hope you know Skai will be watching over you. So Sorry for your loss — It hurt so much reading your letter but also a blessing to feel so much love — This reminded me of my love ones that have gone beyond rainbow bridge — The pain crushes me when i must say by to my loved ones but i always wind up with another in my life because to live without my companions is even a greater pain.
I was so sorry to hear about Mr Skai, my heart aches for you. I was in tears reading your letter as I can tell how much you loved your wonderful dog. Thank you for the courage to share those feelings. I am sorry for your heartbreak. Losing the animal that we love most in life is a painful journey, that time alone will ease to a degree. I hope that your journey is filled with love, peace and memories. It truly is a pain like no other and they live in our hearts forever till we meet again. I sit here sobbing because I know the pain. Blessings my friends and as I look at your pictures what a wonderful life you had together.?
All my childhood and life I took care of others and Jerry was the one taking care of me till the last drop of his incarnation. I thank him for that too, hold him dear in my heart for that too : I deserve me too to be loved like I love others. Your letter to Mr Skai made me remember my Jerry, my love for him, his love for me, made me love even more your Mr Skai and you for being a such human being in this crazy world.
A beautiful tribute to a wonderful friend from a devoted owner. Run free over Rainbow Bridge Mr. Skai x. I have once suffered the same and know exactly what you feel…. Good memories and a forever love in your heart and soul. Greetings brother Peter, The words"Today is a very, very big day. I had hoped to find homes when the population was smaller but have a tremendous amount of wet noses and licks as the pack leader.
Even now a half a dozen continue with the incorporation of your fermented vitamins into their diet. As the inevitable if I live long enough happens, I can relate to your commenters who had no words. The severance from our unconditionally loyal canine friends is increasingly hard on me; I know it is not what God intended. Thanks for sharing what God has given you. With love from a distant friend in Tennessee, Stephen. I am in tears! Skai lived the best life a dog can live and taught not only you but all of us.
He will be forever in our hearts. So sorry for the loss of your precious furchild. I share your pain. I thought I could not activate your link to access this letter then after several tries I am reading about your loss. I never had the privilege of meeting Skai in person, but I certainly knew him from your newsletters.
I am sitting her at my computer with tears streaming down my face as I write this because I know so well how difficult it is to say goodbye to a beloved companion. Skai was the best, and so were you for Skai, and he passed on at a remarkably old age knowing he was well loved. We should all be so lucky! My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. Your journey with Skai is one that touched us all. Your loss is our loss and we grieve with you. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your heartfelt letter. I am so sorry to hear of your loss.
It is a very difficult time just know that you did the best you could for him and he did his best for you. Rest in Paradise Skai Wanttofly …. It is am here and the title caught my attention and I said no not your dog. You and Skai have been an inspiration to me. All I want is for my dog to live a happy and wonderful life such as your Skai did. This letter has me in complete tears and this is just proof of how many strangers lives he has touched. Rest in peace Skai. Thoughts of you and Skai from California.
I miss him so much already and my heart is breaking for you. I found this poem from Nayyirah Waheed and as I was reading it, I felt a tiny light in my heavy heart…. I am the same way. All the best!!! Dear Peter I remember Skai so well and your beautiful bond with your boy. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I too left on a trip not understanding how bad Kailey was doing and we had some hours together when I got home. The pictures of you and Skai are amazing and you two were meant to be! You had so many joyful times together-pure love.. Thank-you Skai for teaching Peter so much so he could help my dog Kailey.
I feel so sorry for your pain losing your beloved dog Skai. I feel your pain because I lost my Tibetan Terrier almost 14 years old in Feb. You get so close to them and your heart beaks when you lose them. You have to love them that much to let them. I pray that all the good times you had with him will give you peace and joy. Take care and bless you for being such a wonderful vet and a human being. I am crying so much at your raw and beautiful letter to your boy, Skai. You were both incredibly blessed to be paired together on this earth.
May you be surrounded by those who loved you both for as long as you need. Cry deeply and long for as long as you need. So many of us followed the adventures of you and Skai and we will continue to hold you in our hearts as you walk this hardest of roads: the incredible loss of your best friend, Mr.
So glad he waited for you. What a blessing. I am so so sad for you and the way it all happened. He had such a wonderful life with you. I feel for your pain. Your website taught me and helped my lovely old lady Sandie who,is now 15 years 8 months a collie GSD cross. You taught me and her vets her liver caused her 3 am panting.
I hope so many kind remarks help your anguish at this time, you are not alone. I am so very sorry Dr Peter for the loss of your best friend. Skai was every dog lovers friend and inspiration. He was and will always be the part you and us-your friends. We lost Buzz- BC- couple of years ago and it still hurts. They leave us but stay in our hearts forever. He is always with you. I have learned so much about life from dogs that I will be forever grateful for the little time I have had with all my dogs.
Peace be with you and Skai. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, Skai. I so feel what you you are experiencing as I have lost my sweet and dear furry friends after many years of love and devotion.
Thank you for sharing your love for Skai. Dobias, I cried reading your note you wrote to Skai, I"m so sorry for your loss. There will be moments his presents will be stronger than other times. Blessings Cathrine, Peek and Lucy Chartier xo. I am so very sorry, I wish I had some words of wisdom to help soothe your heart…….. Mr Skai loved and was loved everyday of your lives together.
You were both blessed! Knows the feeling of loosing your best friend! All the best. Thank you for sharing such beautiful memories. Mr Skai will always have a very special place in your heart and will be with always in spirit. Thinking of you Peter. Skai will always be with you.
Dear Peter, I am so very sorry for the loss of your beloved Skai…my heart goes out to you. I have a friend, one of the most gifted writers that I know. Chuck wrote this very moving piece about his dog, Mugsley and I thought I would share it with you…I hope it helps in some small way. Mugsley had been raised, and brilliantly trained, by people who knew somebody who knew my friend Libby, who briefly took him in when his owners decided, reluctantly, that they had to give him away.
I never met the man who raised Mugsley but I imagine him as a fellow who is freshly surprised from time to time at how very much he misses his dog and who looks then at his grandkid and wonders if the trade-off was worth it, and then chides himself for even having the thought. I always carefully observe Mugsley around babies and young children and can report that he does indeed snap at them.
Something like that. Mugs, usually walking backwards, never taking their eyes off him. But it used to be that I had to position the bed in such a way that there was room for him to jump off and make his wild landing — with a legs-splayed slide and a thump against the wall. It was all very modern. He and I are always communicating, talking back and forth, keeping an eye on each other, making each other grin.
We read the signs, seeing the changes in each other and making the necessary accommodations; trying this, trying that. And so here we still are, me and this dog. Just last night, I was lonely, bitter and scared, familiar feelings that will very likely return after I walk away from this desk. Here, such feelings serve me. From time to time.
I drew a blank at the time, but I think that the feelings that give rise to flutter are the answer to his question. Cats understand that the universe is fickle and that desertion can come at any minute, and so they make a bowl of food last, while dogs gobble it right down, confident that the two-legged giant will soon return to fill it up again. I have to woo him back. After eight good years together, the Mugger Man still has abandonment issues. Just now, with a good tune spinning on my stereo, I caught myself dancing down the hall.
What is this, I wondered, and sat down here to try and figure it out. Is this betrayal? We get it backwards. We pull love in and out in great gulps, but eventually, we forget to let it out. I knew it, we say. But maybe love is really meant to be a continuous pull and release—like a heartbeat.
A breath in and then a breath out. Mugsley, struggling so to keep breathing, to keep loving, his eyes boring into mine. As if to say, This, this is the lesson. Look at me. This is what I have to tell you. This impossible breath. The machine has failed, the love has not.
Take it, then, and give it right back to me. Keep us here. Together together together. Grieving is a continuation of loving, and like a fully lived day it can be first one thing and then another. Each action, the tears, the click of my fingers in time to the music, is part of the same thing: I cry because I love and was loved and I dance for the very same reason. He did not reject me or outgrow his love for me. He did not replace my love with that of another. My love was enough.
My love was plenty. All the way to the end it was the only love he wanted, all the love he needed. He believed in it so much that kept breathing even when he knew—when he knew—that it was time—past time—to lay his head down and close his eyes. Mugsley, Mugsley, who loved to sleep, would not sleep in the end. Because he wanted to keep looking at me.
I walked into the bedroom at midnight that night and knelt down next to him and placed my hand on his heart and I could feel it slowing down—even now I believe that I heard its faltering beat—and I realized that he was dying. Really dying. Right then. Right in that moment.
A being. In my bed his bed; our bed. Falling to my knees and keening. For myself. Crying for him but mostly for myself. The soul clinging tight, the eyes wide with a terrible, terrifying urgency, saying No No I will not go; you need me. His eyes staring into mine with ferocious intensity. But I could imagine it—I could imagine release for him; the beauty of it, the rightness of it, and that vision is what I was trying to give him with my eyes. Holding mine.
Saying: I see you. See me. This is what life is, this exchange, from me to you and you to me. Love love love, moving me down the hall tonight, that urgent pulse that for Mugsley, there in that final hour, was stronger and more lasting than any that had ever pumped through the valves and pathways of his earthbound heart.
I am so sorry and sad for you Peter! Skai will be looking out for you as always. Thank you for sharing him with us! Hugs and love to you! The measure of your pain, Dr. Dobias, is the measure of your love. And grief is an individual and personal thing. There is no time limit on that, either.
Know that you have a whole world of people grieving with you. We will miss you too, Mr. This day had to come and you blessed him in every way possible. What a spectacular fellow he was. Rest In Peace, sweet Skai. Take care of yourself, Dr. You are needed. D, I am sorry sorry for your loss, so sad! Your letter brought tears to my eyes!! May God give you strength and healing for the loss of your best friend!
So sad to hear of the passing of Skai. No words will help right now, only time will. He will be dearly missed. The love we share with our furry family members never stops, Skai was putting you first even at the time of his calling to the rainbow bridge, that unconditional love kept him going so that he could bid you farewell.
Love and devotion between man and dog, nothing compares. We lost a great friend on Good Friday, so thankful we had 12 years with our chocolate nose Cooper and everlasting memories to sustain. Remember always. My heart breaks for you, Best, donna. Dr Dobias, I am tearfully writing this sympathy note. I expected Skai to make a good recovery and to continue going on adventures with you. My deepest sympathy. So very sorry to hear of Skai passing , our hearts break for you , what a beautiful letter to your boy, R. Skai, I hope you can now Fly, sweet little Mr wantstofly.
So sorry to hear that, Peter. A happy healthy dog, forever! Yesterday, one of my favorite golden retriever passed away. After I heard that he was not good, I went to visit him immediately and brought him a gift. So when his owner told me this, I felt so much blessed. His owner told me that he was not good but from the bottom of my heart I really hoped him could recover, although I knew it was almost impossible.
Then, yesterday, I got the bad news. I have prepared some although, the pain still break my heart. I just want to say something although may cannot really help. I still hope all of you feel better…… With lots of love for Skai and all of you, Mary Lou. I am crying my eyes out right now and my heart is broken for you. This is a pain beyond imagination. Many, many people will not forget your precious Skai. I know your heart will never quite be the same, but the precious memories will live on and on. As you remember, there will be moments when you cry, but also moments that you smile or even laugh.
Those are now your treasures. Thank you for sharing your letter to Skai. Thank you for sharing Skai with us! He truly was incredible! So sorry for your loss of Skai. Although new to your newsletters, I felt you had a special bond with Skai. Keep the good memories you and Skai had together. Every Dog should be so lucky as to have had such good care and life. He was so very loved and loved back with all he had. I just lost my 15yr old boy my big red Baby BlueDog. My heart hurts my soul is list right now. I know your pain but never forget he had an amazing and long life filled with love a d doing all the fun things dogs love.
My sweet babes passed away Jan 3 and then Jan 31…I held them both and thought maybe I would die too. I was just having afew tears when I saw your post… we really relied on your vitamins and advice to keep them comfortable in life and I feel like I owe you a debt of gratitude for your knowledge and passion when other vets told me to give up. Thanks for that… sending every bit of love and compassion I can muster. I am heartbroken to hear this news! Skai is our health Hero! A constant model of living life to the fullest by incorporating natural methods and products!
Ruby and I are forever grateful for all of the stories and memories that you have shared about Skai and his family! Please, know that you are lited up in prayer by so many that love their dog just as you do Skai! Godspeed, Skai! Dear Peter, I am heartbroken reading your letter. I just want you to know that I am praying for you tonight. I know, too, that Skai is still with you…and I urge you to keep your heart open so that he may show you, somehow, that he is still there. God bless. My heart breaks for you, Dr. God blessed us with Dogs to love.
Your news and then your letter made me sob. I so honor the way you expressed your love, concern, and care for Skai, and also for all of our Dogs. You guide us by your incredible articles and training. I prayed for you and will continue to ask God to comfort your heart as you grieve your loss of Skai Wantstofly. Fond memories of him will live in our hearts forever. Peter, my heart breaks for you and with you! Rest his precious and beautiful soul. There are no words I can say and you have said so much so beautifully already, so I send you our love.
Clare, Rob and Beacho. I am so sorry to hear your very sad news.
Both Skai and you are in my prayers and thoughts. I was only telling a friend on Wednesday how wonderful both you and Skai were, strange that you came into my mind on that now very memorable day. I have just read your letter to Skai and it made me cry tears of sadness for your loss but also happy tears for the wonderful life you had together.
What a beautiful tribute. I have a very elderly girl here who is fading fast …like Mr Skai she has taught me so much and always been there for me. I keep telling her I am ok now and she can go.. I felt stronger reading your letter and hearing how you made similar decisions, do the same reason. Dear Peter! My condolences? My heartbroken for you lost and I was reading you letter I wish I can do something for you get better but I know is anything can change how you feel , god blessed you I know Mr.
Your journey with Mr. Skai is a beautiful bond to be cherished and forever remembered. In your time of grief these fond memories will fill your heart with tears of sadness and joy.
I too cried and held my little dog Lil Bear after reading your letter, it reminds me that one day I too shall travel this path and have to say good bye. It will be the hardest thing I will ever do. Our furry friends give unconditional love something humans have still to learn. God bless you. She was my first child, best friend, favourite companion who I chose over just about anyone or anything to be with.
We moved across the states together and finally to beautiful Canada where, in her old age, she taught me to learn about holistic healing, nutrition just to keep her safe. Her vet called her the soup dog because during her ACL surgery at age 13, I would deliver warm chicken soup that I had simmered on the stove all day. She blew through that surgery like a champ and we had another two years together. She was a large breed — golden retriever-rotti-chow mix based on her blood test. Having her for 15 years was one of the best gifts of my life.
I lost her May 13, I can still remember the cherry tree that was blooming that day and the last birthday party we had for her under the magnolia tree. I wrote a letter to her, like the one you wrote to Skai. I can share the name of the Toronto artist that designed it with me. I still hold the love I have for her very close and I know I will see her again.
I wish you peace and thank you for everything that you do to keep our loves on this earth with us for as long as possible. I was so shocked when I got the email sad news and somehow I knew. I cried an ocean tonight thinking about my Logan who I had to say goodbye to last month and for some reason thinking about him so much tonight and grieving him. Then to hear the sad news about Mr. Skai, I grew to love him and I grieve with you. I tell my Logan that I love him every day. He will always be watching over you. Hi Peter, so sad to hear this news and such a beautiful letter that you wrote to him.
His spirit will continue to be with you and I am sure he will find ways to let you know he is still around. With love and gratefulness for everything he inspired you to do for the love of him and that is now helping millions of other dogs live a healthy and long life as Skai was lucky enough to do……. So sorry to read your email. The tears were streaming down my face as I read it. Only those who have had the privilege of sharing their life with a special soulmate will understand your loss.
Thankyou for sharing Skai with us, he was a very special dog and you are a very special person and we love you for it. Hi Peter, I have never met you and I have never met Skai and yet as I type this letter my tears are flowing freely. I think that somehow the exceptional bond you had with Skai shone through every post and every comment you made and so I grew to know him and love him. I feel your pain of him passing and hope that by reflecting on the wonderful adventures you shared that you can derive some comfort.
I wish you all the best. Deepest condolences on the passing of your beloved Skai. Blessings and Love to you both. Thank you for the wonderful tribute to Skai. And, thank you for sharing him with us. May he rest in peace. I still have my golden girl Logan, she just turned 15 which like Skai is pretty amazing since she is also a big dog. Thank you for sharing Skai with all of us. Dear Peter, I am absolutely devastated at reading the sad, sad news this morning about Mr Skai. You have both for so long now brightened up my mornings when I read your blogs, adventures, and invaluable information.
Few debuts are this powerful or memorable. There are many teen comedies, and teen sex comedies. None, however, come close to Gregory's Girl , a story of love and lust burning in all its teenage intensity that manages both realism and unspeakable hilarity without ever forgetting to sympathise with its subjects. John Gordon Sinclair is the youngster struck down with adoration for the gorgeous, football-playing Dorothy Dee Hepburn , while Grogan plays Susan, Dorothy's friend and a far better bet for the awkward Romeo.
It's a familiar set-up, but it's almost never been as beautifully observed or intelligently written as it is here, for which all credit to Bill Forsyth. After all, dates that involve aimless walks and visits to the chip shop will ring just a little bit more true-to-life than American cinema's endless parade of proms, beach parties and sporting events. View it as a companion piece to the director's Local Hero , and settle yourself in for some of the most convincing real-life laughs you will ever see on film.
Elegant and measured storytelling secures Tomas Alfredson's Cold War thriller a spot on the list. Led by Gary Oldman 's buttoned-down George Smiley "It's a sitting down role," as he describes it , it's an old-fashioned search for a mole among the top spies of "The Circus", something made more difficult by the fact that he's officially retired. Also, of course, the suspects are some of Blighty's finest actors, from Colin Firth to Toby Jones and Ciaran Hinds, while the pawns at stake include Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, so they're not going to be easy to read.
With that lot on top form, Alfredson might have been forgiven for just pointing the camera at them and giving up, but in fact he crafts a grimy, distinctly '70s London in muted tones and dim shadows and gives the whole thing a sheen of undoubted quality. There's a cruel irony in the fact that Terry Gilliam 's hymn to non-conformity ran smack into huge studio pressure to conform to audience expectation.
Specifically, Universal's grande fromage Sid Sheinberg believed that its ending was too bleak and needed less, well, bleakness. Being Sid Sheinberg he was in a position to force through his infamous 'Love Conquers All' edit, unwittingly providing Gilliam's unique sci-fi with the Big Brother figure it didn't boast on screen. Sheinberg had less luck foisting a new title on the film — the director himself combed through numerous ideas, the Orwell-referencing '' amongst them, before settling on a sideways reference to a pre-war ditty called 'Aquarela do Brasil' — but he let the film fester so long on the shelf that Gilliam was reduced to begging for its release in trade press ads.
On the other side of the Atlantic, audiences were reveling in a dystopian vision that's since been referenced by everyone from the Coen brothers to Alex Proyas. Like Metropolis with a whole lot more paperwork, it's a melon-twisting vision of a future bureaucracy gone crackers. On paper, a comedy about radicalised British Muslims blowing themselves up during the London Marathon shouldn't be funny, but with Chris Morris at the helm, nothing can be taken for granted — not even gags about bomb construction or exploding crows.
Morris pulls off an incredible trick in extracting comedy from catastrophe with the help of a talented cast, Kayvan Novak to the fore as the earnest Waj with Nigel Lindsay as irascible convert Barry. Morris teases out belly laugh after belly laugh from characters rather than crudeness, sympathy rather than distain, all whilst making a point about the nature of terrorism. For this amazing balancing act alone, Four Lions deserves a place up there with The Life Of Brian in the contentious comedy hall of fame. Sure, the somewhat inevitable ending wouldn't be found in most 'how-to-make-a-money-spinning-comedy' handbooks, but in Morris's masterful hands, you're guaranteed hysteric giggle fits as well as some heavier head scratching.
You have to get past the imitators and the spoofs, because this Merchant-Ivory classic inspired legions of both, but if you can you'll find this sumptuously shot, beautifully understated drama is worth the effort. Forget Hannibal Lecter: this is Anthony Hopkins ' finest performance by a country mile. As the buttoned-down butler who places propriety about everything else in his life, his turn is so restrained he might as well be wearing a straitjacket, but underneath his every mood is clear, if you're paying attention, as he negotiates fascist sympathisers, American newcomers and Emma Thompson's strong-willed housekeeper.
The Kazuo Ishiguro novel already provided the elegiac sense of melancholy and missed chances, but this adaptation adds beautiful visuals and a polished sheen that even Hopkins' Steven would admire. Hammer's take on the big daddy of the vampire world assuming vampires have fathers is sexier and gorier than any previous adaptation, and most subsequent efforts.
Christopher Lee makes an imposing, fiery Count, pitted against Peter Cushing's cool, cerebral Van Helsing in a battle for the soul of Mina Harker and any other comely wenches who happen to cross his path. It's a pacy retelling of the story, only pausing for a moment here and there as Dracula looms threateningly over someone's neck, and it has a rich score that keeps the blood pumping. The Count's gruesome end, flesh peeling and melting in the sun, is an iconic horror image and did much to establish the Hammer style.
The story, by E. Nesbit, is a children's classic, and this is the definitive film version. A family are thrown into poverty and forced to move to the country when their father is accused of treason, but inbetween playing on the railway lines Kids: don't try this at home and various acts of minor heroism, they become accustomed to their new life. Winning over recalcitrant station master Bernard Cribbins and befriending strangers on trains proves to be its own reward in the end, building to a happy ending that still brings a tear to the eye.
Seriously, if you don't well up a little when Jenny Agutter, looking through the steam, spots her father and cries, "Daddy, oh my daddy" we can only assume it's because you had your tear ducts surgically removed. There's epic, there's really epic, and then there's Gandhi. As befits one of the most important figures of the 20th century, and certainly one of the most admirable among those figures, Richard Attenborough approached this biopic determined to do justice to both the Mahatma's lofty ideals and also the sheer scale of his achievement.
So star Ben Kingsley gets to bring Gandhi to life over a year period, starting from the earliest glimmerings of his political conscience to his eventual assassination, surrounded by some of the best actors ever to grace stage or screen. Along the way Gandhi brought independence to India, pioneered peaceful protest on a massive scale and provided a new benchmark for idealists everywhere. Kingsley's performance is extraordinary, but he's backed up by Attenborough's sweeping cinematography and enormous ambition - there are hundreds of thousands of extras in that funeral scene, dwarfing even the armies of Isengard for scale.
It's a mad benchmark that, in these digital days, will never be threatened, but it's hard to think of a more worthy subject. Five Oscar nominations are tribute to a none-more-British film about the Blitz that found an appreciative audience on both side of the Atlantic. Seen through the eyes of ten year-old Billy Sebastian Rice-Edwards , John Boorman's autobiographical movie turns London's bombed-out suburbs into a giant adventure playground for schoolboys. An interesting — and wistful — companion piece to Steven Spielberg's Empire Of The Sun , filmed just down the road at almost at the same time, it's full of visual snapshots of an extraordinary time in England's past, a sepia photo album brought back to life.
It's full of startling visual cues, too. Witness the sudden blast of a Luftwaffe bomb unfolding in horrifying slow-motion or the dead fish floating for Billy and his sister to collect after a rogue bomb lands in the river. But the randomness of the war's impact is best captured by the discovery that another rogue bombs means school is out - permanently. See, war isn't always hell, especially when it gets you out of double maths.
Thanks at least in part to his movie, everyone knows what happened next. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge emerged from the smoke and turned one of the most beautiful countries on Earth into a boneyard. Down the road, Brando's Kurtz may have been murmuring about "the horror" but here it was, up close and brutally impersonal.
Schanberg may have won that Pulitzer for his reportage, but Haing Ngor's fearless journo is the beating heart of the story - and the film. In a tragic coda, the man who played him, first-time actor Haing Ngor, was gunned down on an LA street 22 years later. Before he moved across the Pond and made Midnight Cowboy and Marathon Man , John Schlesinger presided over one of the greatest hitting streaks in British cinema.
The first of these remains influential to this day, Tom Courtenay's Walter Mitty-like smalltown boy with big plans a prototype for a thousand British dreamers. Ricky Gervais cites Billy Liar as an inspiration for Cemetery Junction 's bored twentysomethings, but the quirky supporting cast of motley Brits, from Leonard Rossiter's lugubrious mortician to Leslie Randall's catchphrase-spouting telly personality "It's aaall happening" , are building blocks for Gervais's great sitcoms too.
Billy, though, is Schlesinger's tour de force and the director drew Courtenay's greatest performance as the lovable romantic who just happens to machine gun anyone who frustrates his plans in his dreams, of course. Funny and melancholy, it's a poignant hymn to broken dreamers. When confronted with the working practices of the famously Method Dustin Hoffman on Marathon Man , Sir Laurence Olivier is said to have drawled, "Try acting, dear boy; it's easier.
This celluloid record of his Hamlet gives us some idea why: directed by Olivier himself he was also an early multi-hyphenate at the height of his powers and beauty, this is still a compelling portrait of the Dane, however far acting styles have changed since then. While Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet is richer in location and outdoor scenes, it's so much window dressing beside the still-gripping power of the story itself, and there Olivier excels.
Out went the mystifying Quantum and its devious plan to do something or other in Bolivia; in came the arch and motivated Silva Javier Bardem to add a much-needed dose of theatricality and threat to the franchise. Craig seems re-energised, neon-lit in one virtuoso Shanghai sequence and mixing the debonair with the deadly as the story races from one affectionate Bond homage to another.
It speaks volumes for Hitchcock's thrillers that they have a habit of reappearing in modern-day threads. All three are a handy reminder that no-one does Hitchcock like the man himself: for timeless characters and devilish schemes, he's just peerless. Boarding his train-bound thriller are folk musicologist Gilbert Redgrave and his new companion Iris Lockwood , a smart woman heading home to marry her "blue-blooded cheque chaser", who find them themselves trapped among some trigger-happy agents.
When fussy governess Miss Froy Whitty mysteriously vanishes from the dining car, the sparky pair get their amateur sleuth on to track her down. Even with the help of cricket-obsessed Basil Rathbone and Naunton Wayne, their journey across the fictional country of Bandrika gets more dangerous with every passing mile. It's as much fun as you can have on a train, although if you can spot that Hitch cameo, you've got sharper eyes than us.
A great big hug of a movie, Paddington charmed the public and critics alike in one of the nicest surprises of , adding itself to the canon of beloved Christmas movies and proving that bears aren't just for Werner Herzog documentaries and savaging Leonardo DiCaprio. Post-Brexit, it feels more like a lovely dream. If you know a teacher who's just had a bad day, put this on to remind them of the importance of what they do. A deeply moving but blessedly unsentimental look at one teacher's career over a year span, this chronicles his rocky early years, the changes wrought by the arrival of his wife and the deep scars — both personal and professional — taken along the way.
While on one hand there are the successive generations of a single family who keep returning to the school, on the other there are the remembrance services for the dead of several conflicts, culminating in the devastation of World War I. This serves as a chronicle of a changing world as well as one man's life, and it serves as a tribute to ordinary, everyday greatness.
A film about a stuttering posho is not the most obvious crowdpleaser in film history, even with a wunderkind director and the most likeable star this side of Tom Hanks. And yet somehow this is gripping, suspenseful cinema , a sort of Rocky for the non-physical contender and an underdog story that would make a stone cheer. Colin Firth plays Bertie, the s prince and future George VI afflicted with a terrible speech impediment that cripples his efforts at public speaking; Helena Bonham Carter is his endlessly supportive wife and Geoffrey Rush his eccentric speech therapist.
It's talky, it's largely set in a London basement with peeling walls and creaking floors, and it's edge-of-your-seat stuff as Bertie struggles to get a word out, and faces both the throne and the outbreak of war with less trepidation than he displays faced with a microphone or small audience.
Stirring stuff, no matter what you think of the monarchy. This may not quite provide the "muse of fire" for which Shakespeare's narrator wished in telling the story of Henry V , but it comes closer than any other adaptation to illustrating the scale and scope of his wars against the French, and gives even the previously gold-standard Laurence Olivier version a run for its money in the character stakes. Shakespearean wunderkind Branagh stepped into Olivier's footsteps in his directorial debut, directing himself as the young King goaded into a war in France and facing overwhelming odds.
These battles are bloody, muddy and ungallant, making the most of cinema's scope and locations and a far cry from the often dry adaptations that had previously been the rule. The sheer number of luminaries in the cast is almost distracting even Christian Bale is tucked away in there somewhere but if you don't feel a stirring at the St. Crispin's Day speech, you're either dead inside or French. The second most recent film on the list, this gets a spot for doing the impossible: not going out with a whimper. So high were the expectations for this eighth instalment of the series that you would have forgiven director David Yates for locking himself in Dumbledore's office and refusing to come out until it was all over, but instead he turned out an action-packed, character-driven, sometimes brutal finale to the adventures of the boy wizard.
Finally there's the all-out magical war that the series had always sidestepped; finally there's a resolution to the Harry and Voldemort conundrum. If nothing else, you have to admire the chutzpah of a series that not only takes time out for a metaphysical jaunt in the middle of the big final battle but also does the unthinkable and lets the bad guy have his victory on the way.
Naked represented a shift in Mike Leigh's work away from piercing studies of domestic mundanities into something far more edgier. David Thewlis is Johnny, an over-educated, unemployed drifter who comes to London fleeing a sex attack in Manchester and stays with an ex-girlfriend Lesley Sharp , sleeps with her flatmate Katrin Cartlidge and generally expounds his caustic worldviews to anyone who listens.
Naked sees Leigh getting to grips not only with a different subculture — underground London — but also with moviemaking, Dick Pope's cinematography full of tracking shots and interesting lighting strategies that felt new in Leigh's work. What doesn't surprise is the strength in depth of the performances: Thewlis is terrific as Johnny - bitter, articulate, deeply unpleasant, always compelling.
If you've only ever seen him in Harry Potter , rectify this now. There's a perennial pub debate that poses the question: Which is better, Snatch or Lock Stock? Snatch apologists talk a good game, but the correct answer is, of course, Guy Ritchie 's jaw-dropping debut. After all, this is a movie that brought the world 'The Stath', Vinnie Jones hammering someone's skull with a car door, and the knowledge that a big purple dildo can be used an offensive weapon.
Essentially the shaggiest of shaggy dog stories - to call the plot "complex" is to do it a disservice - it's all so slickly done, delivered with such balls-out confidence and written with such an amazing turn of phrase that somehow the convoluted to-ing-and-froing works like clockwork. So well, in fact, that over 18 years later, it remains Ritchie's finest film, a fantastic achievement from a first-time director who took a group of meticulously-cast but relatively unknown actors and spun them into solid fackin' gold.
Therapist-turned-screenwriter Jonathan Asser channels his own experience working to rehabilitate prisoners into a violent, bruising and most of all, realistic depiction of life on the inside. O'Connell brings a laser-beam focus and ferocity to the role of uncontrollable young offender who's had to be "starred up" to an adult prison. It's a cocky, charismatic turn that brings to mind Finney, Burton and Courtenay and in the heydays of the British new wave. The initial mistake, born of adolescent stupidity and self-importance, mushrooms out of control, rolls into adulthood and overshadows a number of lives.
The final revelation of its consequences is devastating, no matter how inevitable it is. Alexander Mackendrick deserves to be remembered more prominently than he is among the titans of British film, given that he's responsible for classics like Whisky Galore! Alec Guinness plays the idealistic young chemist who invents a revolutionary fabric that never wears out or requires washing - only to learn that both industrialists and workers are united against his wonder-cloth, terrified that it will destroy the economy and put them all out of business.
If not as vicious as Mackendrick's great American effort, Sweet Smell Of Success , this is still a plenty cynical view of the chances for real innovation in our imperfect world, and feels as relevant today as it did 60 years ago, if not more so see Who Killed The Electric Car? It's a comedy - more or less - but it will leave you thinking long after the credits roll. A fresh-faced Sam Riley took his place in the pantheon of on-screen rockstars with his depiction of Joy Division front man Ian Curtis.
All jittery energy and charisma on stage, Riley's post-punk star is a troubled soul who jerks from elation to despair off it. We know what's coming from the first reel but experienced through the eyes of Debbie Curtis Samantha Morton , his suicide still comes like a punch in the gut. If Joy Division's music doesn't do it for you — and Riley and co. Frankly, if that's not enough for you, you're a big dog's cock. It wasn't Pierce Brosnan 's fault that the Bond franchise ran aground, but equally you could hardly blame Daniel Craig that some fanatics couldn't see him mirroring Brosnan's suave charm, Moore's wry humour or Sean Connery's ability to look deeply sexy even when wearing dad slacks and a golf visor.
The whole Craig-not-Bond farrago was a reminder that, back in the early '60s, even Connery wasn't everyone's first choice. That seemed to work out okay and so, emphatically, did this. Sure, we'd probably have sacrificed all that product-placement ahead of gadget-fiend, Q, and we kinda missed the silly kiss-off lines, but the return of Bond matched all reasonable expectations and then blasted past them. From Craig's first ppearance , a Bourne-like flashback ferocious enough to pin moviegoers back in their seats, every head-punch, put-down and swimming-trunk-clad step felt like a mission statement for the reborn franchise.
You can almost hear the remote-controlled car backing hurriedly into the garage. Behind all the chiffon and posing is a seriously smart premise that Brian De Palma would later borrow for his thriller Blow Out It has Hemmings' David Bailey-alike realising that he's unwittingly photographed a murderer lurking in the treeline of a deserted park. Returning the next day, he stumbles upon the victim's body, only for it to vanish soon afterwards. Will the snapper tear himself away from the sexy romping long enough to solve the case and bring the killer to justice?
Come on, this is Antonioni we're talking about. If you've seen L'Avventura , you'll know that he prefers his mysteries unsolved. Far from the dyed-in-the-wool petrolhead you might expect, Asif Kapadia 's knowledge of Formula 1 was fairly scant when he set to work on his mesmerising character study of Brazilian superstar Ayrton Senna.
Definitive proof that politics — or movies about politics, at least — can be side-clutchingly funny, In The Loop is an expletive-filled masterclass in modern political satire, saying fuckety-bye to New Labour with one last cinematic kick to the balls. Cracking out one-liners like "Christ on a bendy-bus. Don't be such a fucking faff arse" and "Good morning, my little chicks and cocks" he's definitely the star of the show, but Chris Addison, James Gandolfini and Steve Coogan steal a good scene too.
It's a documentary movie about an event so fantastic you couldn't script it. It's a heist movie without any attempt at theft. And yet Man On Wire not only works brilliantly, but grips like a vice as it tells the story of daredevil Philippe Petit and his distinctly unsanctioned mission to tightrope walk and dance, and spin, and sit on a rope strung stories up between the summits of the twin towers of the WTC. Months in the planning and hours in the execution, this combination of contemporary video and partial reconstruction gives modern viewers the chance to share in the magical and clearly impossible for all rational people, at least feats of Petit, still an endlessly energetic figure and, we must assume, something of a magician.
His debut feature, a stark meditation on political protest, largely sidelined the actual politics behind Bobby Sands' Fassbender hunger strike to zoom in on the man himself. It's not an easy watch, by any means. Michael Fassbender's astonishing portrayal of the dying IRA man is disquieting viewing, while McQueen's Maze Prison, faeces-smeared walls, urine sloshing corridors and all, will haunt your dreams.
The 33lbs Fassbender lost for the part, a Machinist -like plunge into emaciation, translates into a performance filled with heavy-lidded determination: the frailer Sands' body becomes the stronger he seems, a dichotomy the actor explores to the full. His 17 minute exchange with Liam Cunningham's Catholic priest offers an electric centrepiece scene captured in one unobtrusive take by McQueen's camera.
Okay, Hunger probably isn't a movie to settle down to with a pizza, but it's an essential piece of modern art from a director we'll be seeing a whole lot more from. Another sparkling prize jewel in the already-gleaming crown of Ealing Studios, The Lavender Hill Mob is a quaintly British, lightly-satirical comedy among their very best. Produced in the middle of what many consider to be the studio's peak years the post-War period from - , director Charles Crichton and Oscar-nabbing screenwriter T.
Clark crafted a likeably amoral crime caper centred on Alec Guinness' meek bank clerk who decides to pull off a brilliant gold robbery. Though later scenes hint at a possibly darker direction the Eiffel Tower chase, for instance, has obvious shades of Hitchcock , this is a lighter affair than other Ealing masterpieces such as Kind Hearts And Coronets or The Ladykillers. The cast sings not literally , but the most satisfying moments both belong to Guinness; first, when he realises that he's the eponymous mob's boss, and second when he endearingly admits that he'd like to be called "Dutch".
Chariots Of Fire is, perhaps, the definition of a movie that became too successful for its own good. Twenty-first century newcomers to Hugh Hudson's classic sports drama have to dig through a steeplejump's worth of hype, a catchphrase that looms like stormcloud screenwriter Colin Welland may always regret whooping, "The British are coming" when picking up his Oscar , and a small army of top-hat wearing, ever-so-snooty characters that are hard to not laugh at on occasion.
But if you can see through all that, there is a beautiful movie beneath, dealing with devotion and identity, religion and fame. It's a piece of music so magnificent it'd make Zookeeper watchable, and we don't say that lightly. With the London Olympics year fast approaching, expect the film to return to favour in a blaze of not-on-Sunday patriotism and slightly tuneless whistling. Like many of Mike Leigh's films, Secrets And Lies was only loosely scripted, with the cast then improvising the rest. The central idea is all Leigh's - in this case, an adopted, middle-class black woman Jean-Baptiste as Hortense Cumberbatch discovers her real mother is white and working class Blethyn as Cynthia Purley , throwing both their lives into an emotional maelstrom - but for the most part, the lines are the actors' own.
Leigh's unorthodox directing technique may not be Hollywood's way doing things, but when the result is as touching and hilarious as Secrets And Lies , it doesn't much matter. Sure, no golden bald men ended up in Leigh's hands, but plenty of BAFTAs did, as well as the Palme d'Or, making it comfortably the biggest critical success of his career. Cynics often carp that British cinema falls into two distinct categories: the glossy costume efforts and the grim-oop-north dramas.
This one, however, manages to leaven the grimness still very much present in the constant shadow of economic meltdown with a sense of humour and quiet determination, as a gang of unemployed steel workers try to make a little money by, well, stripping completely naked for a horde of baying women.
It's a true underdog story, glued together by immensely sympathetic performances, particularly from Carlyle, Addy and Wilkinson, all of whom were launched into Hollywood after their turns here. Worth watching just for the Post Office queue dance scene, wherein each of the team quietly start shifting in time to the music as they await their dole cheques. This is more than just a music promo. It's more than a pre-MTV attempt to market a band through film.
It's an honest-to-god comedy with genuine wit and heart and also - not incidentally - some terrific tunes. A day in the life of the Fab Four at the height of Beatlemania, rushed out before their inevitable decline so thought the executives it went a long way to establishing the popular perceptions of each of the group, with Lennon as the smartass, McCartney the sensible one, Harrison quiet and Starr a clown.
Aside from the obvious comic elements, much of it was true to their lives at the time, screenwriter Alun Owen spending weeks with the band observing their reality before constructing his script. Richard Lester's sure direction and more fantastical touches completed the picture, reinventing the music biopic and inspiring everything from spy movies to The Monkees. One half of Britain's greatest filmmaking double act, Michael Powell's darker side came out to play when his old pal Emeric Pressburger wasn't about.
Powell struck out on his own with this startling thriller about a serial-killing filmmaker Boehm who murders his subjects with a blade hidden in his tripod. Audiences and critics hated it, and the controversy that surrounded its release was so acrid it practically finished Powell's career. Strangely, it wasn't entirely alone in its boundary pushing: Hitchcock's Psycho was delivering similarly psycho-sexual shocks across the Pond at the same time. The difference? Hitch grabbed four Oscars and enough box-office loot to fill the Bates Motel; Peeping Tom played to empty cinemas.
Peeping Tom's startling ideas - especially its suggestion that the audience was complicit in Boehm's brutal murders — were just too much for contemporary viewers to chew on. As Martin Scorsese, one of the film's great champions, points out: "It shows how the camera violates and the aggression of filmmaking. Happily, the passing of time has been a whole lot kinder, although it's still not a brilliant date movie. Whichever way you cut it, it's one big mantlepiece. Rewatching it now, it's easy to see why. Anthony Dod Mantle's gorgeous cinematography makes India its very own, and Jamal Patel and Latika Pinto deliver the sweetest romantic moments seen in cinemas this century — including that glorious dance sequence during the credits.
Some critics proclaimed it "feel-good" but with the persistent darkness throughout child slavery, battery-aided interrogation, drug-dealing and violence, anyone? Still, it remains a stunning, Capra-esque Hollywood melodrama that blew the world away, and reminded everyone what a fantastic director Danny Boyle can be — as if that were in doubt.
Another Ken Loach slice of unflinchingly-real social examination, another masterpiece that the masses probably won't have seen. Again focusing on poverty-stricken individuals trapped in the system, My Name Is Joe follows Peter Mullan 's reformed, alcoholic nutter Joe who coaches the local football team in Glasgow's mean streets while trying to avoid the bottle and any bother. Affable, haunted and more sympathetic than Rocky, it's a stunning tour-de-force from Scot-scene regular Mullan, completely deserving of the Best Actor award it won him at Cannes. Bleak and tragic yet somehow hopeful, many will wish for a less downbeat finale, but such is Loach's commitment to realism.
And you rarely see endings that brave in blockbuster territory. This was the film that beat Saving Private Ryan to the Best Picture Oscar, probably because it's fizzier and more frivolous than Spielberg's effort, which the Academy occasionally responds to. As biopics go, it's high on invention and low on fact, but it's also a delightfully witty literary in-joke, reimagining Shakespeare's life as, well, a Shakespearean comedy of errors.
Tom Stoppard's script doctoring left the screenplay littered with in-jokes and direct lifts from the Bard's work, while a game cast of RSC stalwarts like Judi Dench so good as Elizabeth I that her cameo landed her an Oscar and American upstarts like then-ingenue Paltrow and Ben Affleck threw themselves into the caper. Mixing tragedy and comedy, it may not - quite - be high art, but it's immense fun. The movement towards social realism in British films of the s wasn't merely confined to the present day; this Tony Richardson effort showed that it could be applied to period films too, and bawdy literary adaptations at that.
Albert Finney was at his cocky, charming best as the young rapscallion of the title, raised a bastard by a kindly nobleman but denied his true love by his low birth. Instead, he embarks on a series of love affairs, dogged by a jealous rival, until everything finally comes together at the very last minute.
It's meticulously researched and constructed, but all done with such a breezy insouciance and flair, the characters even interacting with the camera and riffing on film style that silent movie opening, for instance , that it feels both thoroughly modern even now and very '60s, winning a clutch of Academy Awards for its trouble.
John Schlesinger's follow-up to the Oscar-winning Midnight Cowboy is the most personal film of the filmmaker's career. The first film to depict a non judgemental portrait of a homosexual character in a lead role, Sunday Bloody Sunday is an exquisitely explored menage a trois between Peter Finch's gay Jewish doctor, Glenda Jackson's career counselor and the sculptor Murray Head — he of One Night In Bangkok fame whom the couple both love. This isn't a film about sexuality although Finch and Head's affectionate kiss caused a stir at the time ; it's a film about the minutiae of complex relationships realised through a trio of great performances.
Also keep your eyes peeled for a year-old Daniel Day-Lewis in the minor role as a vandal. The third and still the best of the Potter films, this was the one where things got magical. He's also helped by the fact that this is maybe the best of the books, upping the stakes more significantly than any other single instalment, introducing a welcome element of ambiguity to Hogwarts' hallowed halls with the development that an escaped prisoner may be responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents or, then again, not and that the cool new teacher may hide dangerous secrets. The films may get progressively darker, but this one had just the right mix of shadows and light.
Before presided over Ealing Studios' golden age, Michael Balcon is best remembered for giving a talented East London filmmaker a leg-up in the tough-as-knuckles British film industry. That man? Alfred Hitchcock. He turned out early potboilers for Balcon's Gainsborough Pictures in the '20s before moving across London with Balcon to Lime Grove Studios, the home of this classic romp.
The 39 Steps is a compendium of classic Hitchcock trademarks, from Robert Donat's 'wrong man' to a sinister MacGuffin and a Hitch cameo upset that'd make mortal enemies of the Keep Britain Tidy campaign. Witness, too, the chemistry he sparks between his romantic leads — the feisty pairing of Donat and Carroll squabble their way across the Scottish Highlands and into each other's arms — and the ever-building paranoia as that spy ring does its nefarious work.
The identity of those spies is never specified, but if they're not carrying travel editions of Mein Kampf , you can melt our faces. We hoped and prayed that Aardman's stop-motion magicians could find a way to turn our claymation heroes into movie stars. Could they really sustain the wit and vibrancy of Wigan's delightful duo for a whole hour and a half? Wouldn't Wallace overdose on cheese along the way?
We needn't have worried. The sparkling Curse Of The Were-Rabbit positively brims with ideas and energy, dazzling movie fans with sly references to everything from Hammer horrors and The Incredible Hulk to King Kong and Top Gun , and bounds along like a hound in a hurry. The plot, the part we foolishly thought might let it down, pitches the famously taciturn Dogwarts' alumnus and his Wensleydale-chomping owner Sallis against the dastardly Victor Quartermaine Fiennes , taking mutating bunnies, prize-winning marrows and the posh-as-biscuits Lady Tottington Bonham Carter along for the ride.
In short, it's the most marvellously English animation there is. Doing for the buddy-cop actioner what they did for the zombie movie with Shaun Of The Dead , Spaced 's creative trio of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright made it two-for-two on the big screen. It's initially a tad jarring to see Pegg as the straight man, but his natural chemistry with long-time real-life pal Frost remains endearing as ever. When he wasn't working his devilish charm on Elizabeth Taylor, hanging out in bars with Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris or hunting sharks with his bare hands, Richard Burton was also a magnificent actor.
Here's early proof. Burton is very near his best in Tony Richardson's melodrama as Jimmy Porter, a jazz man stuck down the kind of dead end that's filled with British New Wave rebels. When he seethes "I have no public school scruples about hitting girls" at the sly Helena Claire Bloom , you know it's no empty threat. He's Steetcar 's Stanley Kowalski on three pints of bitter; the closest thing s Derby has to its own volcano. As claustrophobic and uncomfortable as the John Osborne stage play on which it's based, it was the first salvo in British cinema's class war.
Here's a Mike Leigh film even for people who don't like Mike Leigh films, the director's ultra-naturalistic style softened by the period setting and enhanced by the heightened emotions of its characters. There's not a kitchen sink in sight as Gilbert Broadbent and Sullivan Corduner collaborate to create their Japan-inspired comic opera The Mikado, surrounded by performers who each have their own neuroses and crises and who, incidentally, do their own singing to boot. Broadbent and Corduner are a wonderfully mismatched but mutually admiring pair: one a solid family man, the other a whore-loving drug addict.
The Wicker Man isn't scary in a conventional manner and, arguably, is more of a Gothic mystery than a horror movie, but you'd be hard-pushed to find a more disturbing and horrific film experience. Certainly one of the most chilling British movies ever created, there's something indefinably unsettling about Robin Hardy's strangely seductive cult chiller from the moment Edward Woodward sets foot on the remote Scottish island. While his buttoned-up Christian copper from the mainland searches for a supposedly missing girl, this strange place hauntingly evolves from a small town of eccentric locals to a paranoid-flavoured asylum with no way out.
In the lead, Woodward has never been better except perhaps in The Equaliser , while nobody does sinister menace quite like Christopher Lee and his burning eyes. If Anthony Minghella's death robbed British cinema of one of its most dazzling voices, this heartrending wartime romance stands as a fitting testament to his talent. A Best Picture winner, it's a perfectly judged adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's novel, filled with tenderness and longing.
As the North African sun beats down on Ralph Fiennes' enigmatic Count Laszlo, hideously burnt in his crashed biplane, all other considerations strip away but one: his fierce passion for the woman he loves. Part of its success is down to the stellar crew the Oscar-winning Minghella assembled. Walter Murch's editing another Oscar winner switches from the drama from North Africa to Italy's shell-pocked byways, while John Seale's photography yup, you guessed it gives us one of the best adverts for Tuscany committed to celluloid.
If you can watch this film and not want to go straight there and start defusing bombs, you've been watching a different movie. The Archers' critically-acclaimed gothic melodrama sees Deborah Kerr play Sister Clodagh, a young nun sent with four other sisters to establish a convent in an abandoned Himalayan palace. At this point, things start to go wrong.
Like, nun-going-crazy-with-jealousy-and-putting-on-unnunly-amounts-of-eyeliner wrong. Essentially a psychological drama, Black Narcissus 's emotional resonance in a nun-deprived modern world may be somewhat lessened, but there's no denying its influence amongst modern directors. Scorsese, for one, cites it as one of his favourite films. Then there's the striking cinematography from Jack Cardiff, a true great of British cinema. The gleaming photography is especially astonishing when you consider that, despite being set in Darjeeling, the film was almost entirely shot at Pinewood Studios.
It's no wonder then that Cardiff and art director Alfred Junge both won Oscars for their work. It remains one of the finest Technicolor productions of all time. We're all familiar with Sir Ben Kingsley, right?
Small chap, played Gandhi , rather refined and well-spoken. Well, not anymore. In this twist on the gangster movie, he's the psychotic gang boss Don Logan calling the happily retired Gary Dove Ray Winstone back to London from one last job. Creepily magnetic when he's still, absolutely bloody terrifying when he starts spitting out profanities and acting out, it's a performance that will convince you that this man could cow even the hulking Winstone into obedience.
Admittedly, the one-last-job hook has been done before, but the characterization is so fresh and surprising here — and the Costa del Sol setting such a nice change from the usual gloomy skies — that it feels very much like its own beast. The problem with adapting Charles Dickens novels for the screen is that he was, essentially, paid by the word. The resulting sprawling epics don't make for the sort of lean, muscular narrative that lends itself naturally to film. But what's great about this version of his rags-to-riches fable is that Lean and his fellow scriptwriters managed to find a central story — Pip's Mills love of Estella Hobson — to hang the film around, while still leaving enough space for the more memorable supporting characters Hunt's Miss Havisham, Francis L.