Dream palaces
Transforming the domestic interior
in Picturing home
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This chapter explores the home’s endowment with escapist qualities in two postwar films that demonstrate cinema’s debt to the consumer culture which developed around the suburban home during the interwar years. The late 1930s consumerist transformation of domestic life was notably influenced by Hollywood visions of domesticity and consumer culture, but also presented an indigenous form of consumerist escapism, tempered by values of tradition, restraint and Englishness. Building on existing research which considers the relationship between British film, domestic modernity and consumer culture, this chapter explores aspirational images of home in Spring in Park Lane, a light-hearted, part-musical romantic comedy set in the sprawling spaces of a grand London mansion, and The Glass Mountain (d. Henry Cass, 1949), which centres on the dreams of home and the romantic dalliances of a composer. It analyses how these films offer visions of domestic transformation by constructing a particular kind of spatial experience and by conveying aspirational images of glamorous, and yet profoundly stable, domestic stardom. In so doing, the chapter contends that these films re-imagine the kind of domestic transformation that was promised by interwar consumer culture, and which came to be repurposed in peacetime for audiences facing the possibilities offered by postwar reconstruction.

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