The Cinematograph Exhibitors’ Association and the government
in Cinemas and cinemagoing in wartime Britain, 1939–45
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The Second World War witnessed a massive expansion of state power in Britain, and it is unsurprising to find that the state and its various agencies had a massive impact on wartime cinemagoing. British exhibitors sought to maintain a positive relationship with the government, whilst also seeking to mitigate the impact that wartime regulations had on the industry. Analysing the government’s positive attitude to the cinema – which was understood as a channel for the dissemination of propaganda and as a means of maintaining morale – this chapter also demonstrates the limits the government placed on its willingness to accommodate the cinema. In addition to exploring the exhibition industry’s dealings with the Ministry of Information (in relation to MoI films), the Ministry of Food (in relation to sweets rationing and a ban on ice-cream manufacture) and the Treasury (in terms of Entertainments Tax), this chapter also investigates issues such as Sunday opening which allow not only for a better recognition of the ways in which government legislation influenced cinemagoing, but also for a more rounded understanding of the position that the cinema was thought to have in wartime.


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