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Philip Gillett

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.

in The British working class in postwar film
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From music hall to celluloid
Philip Gillett

The music hall reinvented itself as variety with sufficient success for new theatres to be built in the 1930s. The early days of the music hall were evoked nostalgically in Champagne Charlie and a string of films which followed. In the late 1940s, the cinema's debt to the music hall was evident in the Mancunian comedies and the Old Mother Riley series. Both were distinctive forms of British cinema, though their proletarian character means that they have received scant critical attention. The scenarios of Mancunian films, the characters of the stars and the low production costs resulted in a unique style of filmmaking which appealed to northern, working-class audiences. Two Mancunian offerings, Somewhere in Camp and Somewhere on Leave drew the largest audiences at the Majestic, Macclesfield, in 1942 and 1943 respectively. Home Sweet Home is a typical Mancunian product in its casting and scenario.

in The British working class in postwar film
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The postwar child in films
Philip Gillett

This chapter deals with the portrayal of postwar children in several British films, namely, The Way to the Stars, Hue and Cry, The Trump, The Secret Garden, Tom's Midnight Garden, and The Magnet. The emotional investment in children apparent in The Way to the Stars was noted. This was associated with demographic and economic changes. Since its inception, the cinema industry had wrestled with a problem of how to satisfy a child audience without alienating older age groups, particularly adolescents who were leaving behind childish things. Films starring children and produced for general audiences were less common. Because working-class children were more likely to have strong regional accents and less likely to be prompted into acting by ambitious parents, they were doubly handicapped. The consequence was, with honourable exceptions, films in which an unrepresentative array of middle-class children were paraded on screen.

in The British working class in postwar film