The importance of films in the cultural and social life of both Britain and the United States has long been recognized. Although radio survived in Britain more or less intact, by 1960 it too had taken second place to television as the prime domestic medium. This book begins by analysing the very different relationships between cinema and radio that emerged in Britain and the United States. It moves on to examine the ways in which cinema adapted radio programmes in the fields of comedy and detective fiction and then how radio dramatized films. When radio first took off in the United States in the late 1920s, it was regarded by the film industry as a rival, something to keep people at home and away from the cinema. But during the 1930s, Hollywood began to appreciate the value of radio in publicizing and promoting its films. The British broadcasting service was set up in 1922 with a monopoly and finance from a licence fee following negotiations between the Post Office, which controlled the air waves, and the radio industry, which manufactured the equipment. Radio in wartime was informational and inspirational. It provided news, entertainment, and propaganda. The book concludes with a look in detail at the ways in which the two media have dealt with three popular fictional characters, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes.
Music played a major role in the life of a global ideological phenomenon like the British Empire. This book demonstrates that music has to be recognised as one of the central characteristics of the cultural imperialism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It begins with an account of the imperial music of Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Arthur Sullivan and the establishing of an imperial musical idiom. The book discusses the music composed for or utilized by official occasions: coronations, jubilees, exhibitions, tattoos, Armistice Day and Empire Day. Community singing was also introduced at the Aldershot Military Tattoo in 1927, sponsored by the Daily Express. The book examines the imperial content of a range of musical forms: operetta and ballet, films, music hall songs, ballads, hymns and marches. In one of the scenes depicting ballet, Indian dancing girls are ordered to reveal the riches of the land and the Ballet of Jewels. There were two staples of song in the second half of the nineteenth century: the drawing-room ballad and the music-hall song. Sir Henry Coward was Britain's leading chorus-master, and his 1911 musical world tour with Sheffield choir was the high point of his career. The book concludes with a discussion of practitioners of imperial music: the divas Emma Albani, Nellie Melba and Clara Butt, and the baritone Peter Dawson.
Popular culture is invariably a vehicle for the dominant ideas of its age. Never was this truer than in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when it reflected the nationalist and imperialist ideologies current throughout Europe. It both reflects popular attitudes, ideas and preconceptions and it generates support for selected views and opinions. This book examines the various media through which nationalist ideas were conveyed in late-Victorian and Edwardian times: in the theatre, "ethnic" shows, juvenile literature, education and the iconography of popular art. It seeks to examine in detail the articulation and diffusion of imperialism in the field of juvenile literature by stressing its pervasiveness across boundaries of class, nation and gender. It analyses the production, distribution and marketing of imperially-charged juvenile fiction, stressing the significance of the Victorians' discovery of adolescence, technological advance and educational reforms as the context of the great expansion of such literature. An overview of the phenomenon of Robinson Crusoe follows, tracing the process of its transformation into a classic text of imperialism and imperial masculinity for boys. The imperial commitment took to the air in the form of the heroic airmen of inter-war fiction. The book highlights that athleticism, imperialism and militarism become enmeshed at the public schools. It also explores the promotion of imperialism and imperialist role models in fiction for girls, particularly Girl Guide stories.
This chapter analyses in detail the nature of the imperialism to be found in the annual autumn melodrama and Christmas pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, during the regime of the impresario Sir Augustus Harris. Harris delighted in his Punch nickname of Augustus Druriolanus, a name implying empire. Richards establishes the nature of the Drury Lane audience, arguing for a substantial working-class component, and analyses the content and attitude of melodramas and pantomimes. He also explains how Harris in providing imperially-themed entertainment was following his often expressed philosophy, ‘that my guiding-star must be This chapter analyses in detail the nature of the imperialism to be found in the annual autumn melodrama and Christmas pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, during the regime of the impresario Sir Augustus Harris. Harris delighted in his Punch nickname of Augustus Druriolanus, a name implying empire. Richards establishes the nature of the Drury Lane audience, arguing for a substantial working-class component, and analyses the content and attitude of melodramas and pantomimes. He also explains how Harris in providing imperially-themed entertainment was following his often expressed philosophy, ‘that my guiding-star must be wholly and solely the taste of those I endeavour to please.’
The power of films in the imaginative lives of audiences can only be properly understood when films are located within the wider cinema culture. These comprised fan magazines, cigarette cards, postcards, cheap biographies, the book of the film, the sheet music of the film and above all radio. But during the 1930s, Hollywood began to appreciate the value of radio in publicizing and promoting its films. It discovered that radio complemented films rather than substituted for them. For three decades in both the United Kingdom and the United States from the 1930s to the late 1950s radio was the dominant medium for the daily domestic consumption of news, music and drama. The major structural development in the 1920s was the emergence of national networks: the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), initially two networks, Red and Blue, in 1926 and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1927.
The British broadcasting service was set up in 1922 with a monopoly and finance from a licence fee following negotiations between the Post Office, which controlled the air waves, and the radio industry, which manufactured the equipment. John Reith, Director-General of the BBC from 1923 to 1938, provided a manifesto for public service broadcasting in his book Broadcast Over Britain, published in 1924. His definition of democracy, however, was freedom of access rather than freedom of choice. The BBC monopoly was challenged directly by the growth of commercial broadcasting. The situation regarding drama in the United Kingdom was completely different from that in the United States. The symbiosis was not between radio and cinema but between radio and theatre. The Second World War became a radio war, leading to a revolution in the nature of radio entertainment.
Comedy was consistently the most popular genre of radio programme. The primacy of verbal comedy put paid to any radio career for Harpo Marx, who never spoke in the Marx Brothers' films. So on radio in shows like Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel the Marx Brothers were reduced to two: Chico with his malapropisms and cod-Italian accent and Groucho with his quickfire gag routines. There was also strict censorship, with sex, politics, race, religion, profanity and bodily functions all banned. The popularity of the domestic sitcom format was such that it revitalized the radio careers of George Burns and Gracie Allen. The comic domestic sitcom on British radio was the creation of the multitalented Mabel Constanduros. Radio picked up the series from the cinema and created Meet the Huggetts, a light-hearted family series which ran from 1952 to 1961 and starred Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison as Joe and Ethel Huggett.
Detective stories were popular on radio: the suspense, the puzzle (pitting your wits against the detective), the exposition, all made for engaging radio drama. But crime stories in which the law always triumphed and evil was always exposed and punished provided audiences with a recurrent sense of reassurance in troubled times (the Depression, the wars, the Cold War). During the 1930s and early 1940s the emphasis was on realistic police and law enforcement dramas, catering to the need to allay the anxiety of the public about the threat to civil society from gangsters and racketeers. Alongside the realistic docudramas were a series of detective stories derived from pulp fiction. The leading pulp publishers were Street and Smith and they had a weekly mystery show on radio in which their thriller stories were dramatized. Alongside the films, radio played its part in dramatizing the Charlie Chan stories.
By common consent, the most popular and the best produced dramatic show on American radio was The Lux Radio Theatre. The first programme was broadcast on the NBC network on 14 October 1934. What happened was that in 1944 the American Federation of Radio Artists (AFRA) decided to fight Proposition 12 which was due to appear on the Californian Election Ballot. Proposition 12 allowed every Californian as of right to obtain a job without first joining a union. Something else we can learn from Lux is the comparative popularity of British films in the United States. Another development which had no parallel in the United States was the broadcasting of adapted film soundtracks. In 1948 there were three radio versions of films, two of them British. The number of film adaptations diminished during the 1950s as the emphasis remained squarely on the theatre as the primary source of radio drama.
There are few more prosaic settings than a radio studio, usually an anonymous-looking room with table, chairs, curtains and control panel. The best cinematic depiction of radio studios in action can be found in the documentary film BBC, The Voice of Britain , commissioned by the BBC from the GPO Film Unit. The ubiquity of radio was such that established literary classics could be reworked to accommodate the radio age. One of the more unlikely broadcasting crazes in both the United Kingdom and the United States was the spelling bee. Spelling contests with instant prizes, they were all the rage in the United States in 1937 and came to the United Kingdom in 1938. Paramount cashed in on the desire of radio audiences to see their favourites in the flesh with a series of what were in effect musical revues, the Big Broadcast series.