The filmmaking style of Joseph Losey is rooted in his early career in the theatre. Losey’s work as a director on the New York stage in the 1930s bore the imprint of the then-experimental theories and concepts of some of the early twentieth century’s major theatre practitioners. Later, he would translate their ideas into a distinctive cinematic language which came to maturity as he developed into an ‘arthouse’ director in 1960s Britain, in exile from Hollywood’s anti-communists. This chapter outlines Losey’s career in theatre, and explores the theatrical influences on him, exemplified in the work and theories of Bertolt Brecht and Vsevelod Meyerhold. The connection from ‘stage Losey’ to ‘screen Losey’ is demonstrated through close formal analysis of films from Losey’s British film career. His exile status gave him a singular inside/outside view of Britain, which, coupled with a directorial style immersed in modernist theatre concepts, resulted in films which occupy an important place in British art cinema.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.