The British working class in postwar film

Author: Philip Gillett

This book examines how the working-class people are portrayed in the British cinema. One objective of this work is to take a modest step in redressing the balance by considering the popularity of the films discussed. A second objective is to demonstrate how film might be used by disciplines whose practitioners often display scant interest in its possibilities. The third objective is to consider what films can contribute to the debate on the consequences of war. A final objective is to test received opinion. The book discusses a five-dimensional model for examining images of the working class in films. These are: place in the authority structure; cohesion/fragmentation within the working-class community; internalised values; the built environment; and personal signifiers of class, notably speech, hairstyles and clothing. It deals with the war films that were made in the context working class community, and discusses The Way to the Stars, The Hasty Heart, and Wooden Horse. With the approach of war in the late 1930s, changes in censorship allowed industrial disputes to be portrayed on British screens for the first time. The working class community was portrayed in It Always Rains on Sunday to better effect as compared to Passport to Pímlíco. Three groups of criminals make regular appearances in postwar British films: spivs, who are black market traders; those have served in the forces; and career criminals. The book also deals with several British films in the postwar years focusing on dance hall, namely, Floodtide, Waterloo Road, and Dance Hall.

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