The looking-glass world of the cinema
in The British working class in postwar film
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This chapter deals with looking-glass which forms the theme in several postwar British films, namely, The Third Man, The Blue Lamp, and It Always Rains on Sunday. Examining class assumptions in films is akin to cleaning an old painting: aspects of the subject and its treatment are revealed which have hitherto been hidden. Overt authority structures are evident in films about service life, though differences in rank receive surprisingly little emphasis once individuals are socialised into the institution by initial training. In spite of this, distinctions are implicit in the convention that those who give the orders are upper or middle class, as They Were Not Divided illustrates, with NCOs occupying an ambiguous supervisory role. The chapter aims to test Raymond Durgnat's dictum that a middle-class cinema only acknowledges the working class insofar as they are subservient to middle-class ideals, shade into the feckless or criminal, or are presented humorously.


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