in places such as the suburbs of London, for
example, these different areas were often contiguous, producing a situation
where cinemas on one side of a political boundary – which might run down
the middle of a road – were allowed to reopen, and those on the other
remained subject to enforced closure. Other districts were composed of
both neutral and reception areas: in such instances, it was usually the case
that all cinemas were to remain closed, but was this fair?25
Above and beyond all this was concern for the safety of the public. Even
in the absence of air
Sound, 37:10 (Spring 1941),
3 Kinematograph Weekly, 26 October 1944, p. 5. From late 1944, Middlesex
County Council amended this regulation: one attendant was required per 250
patrons in newer cinemas, and one for every 200 in older, less fire-resistant
4 Ideal Kinema, 4 December 1941, p. i.
Cinemas and cinemagoing in wartime Britain, 1939–45
5 Jennifer Craik, ‘The cultural politics of the uniform’, Fashion Theory, 7:2
(2003), p. 128.
6 Ideal Kinema, 15 January 1942, p. v.
7 J. H. Hutchison, The Complete Kinemanager (London
gently, inventively or
humorously – that they needed to remain community-minded smacked
of redundancy, for what was a cinema audience if not an instinctive and
voluntary community hoping to achieve common goals?
The cultural promotion of the communal ideal at the national level
arose from a political reality in which individuals were corralled into a
well-regulated collective. A web of rules, legislation and obligations created
a specific place for, and idea of, the individual within the war effort that
provided greatly reduced scope for personal choice. The sense of