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1932 R. J. Burnett (who was on the Religious Film Society’s committee) and E. D. Martell published an influential polemic entitled The Devil’s Camera: Menace of a Film-Ridden World , in which cinema was seen as wallowing in vice, moral corruption, immorality and blasphemy, amongst other horrors. The blame for the prostituting of the film camera was laid at the feet of ‘sex-mad and cynical producers’, criticism that reveals a

in From silent screen to multi-screen
The creative tension

centralized policy towards the whole service; the preservation of a high moral tone; the spreading of culture, knowledge and education and not just entertainment; the promotion of inter-class harmony and national cohesion; the promotion of religion; the creation of an informed and enlightened public. Such was the power of John Reith’s vision and his personality that the BBC in the inter-war years embodied precisely these ideals. Reith’s detractors dubbed him the ‘Czar

in Cinema and radio in Britain and America, 1920–60

by the People’s Institute of New York and Dr Charles Sprague Smith. 7 When it formally began operations on 1 January 1913, under its first Chairman George Redford, the BBFC’s declared duty was ‘to induce confidence in the minds of the licensing authorities, and of those who have in their charge the moral welfare of the community generally’. 8 Crucially, the BBFC would be funded by charging a levy on each foot of film

in From silent screen to multi-screen

’ originated with various groups within both society – particularly middle-class pressure groups and moral reformers – and the ‘establishment’, most notably via regulation and legislation. Williams argues cogently that although cinema ultimately became the central art form of the twentieth century its development was slow, particularly amongst some classes. 96 That it assumed such a prominent position in the context

in From silent screen to multi-screen

such as Westerns and adventures, Rank established the Children’s Entertainment Film (CEF) division in 1944. The content of the films was subject to the control of the CEF’s director, Mary Field, and a Youth Advisory Council, made up of representatives from the BBC, the education sector and the church, amongst others. They were concerned that the films ‘would not only be entertaining but would also set a high moral tone and

in From silent screen to multi-screen
Abstract only
Cinemagoing in the early months of the war

] to regard the cinema as potentially and often actually dangerous’.51 These dangers were often articulated in terms of the risks posed by films deemed unsuitable for children because of their violent or frightening content,52 but also in terms of the prospect of increased delinquency and Americanisation posed by exposure to Hollywood productions.53 The CEA, however, was adamant that parents, rather than self-appointed moral guardians, were best placed to ensure that their children’s welfare was adequately maintained. In coming to this conclusion, the CEA spoke

in Cinemas and cinemagoing in wartime Britain, 1939–45

of gender roles, the detective story underlined the moral that crime did not pay – as Philip Marlowe barked at the outset of every episode of The Adventures of Philip Marlowe , ‘Get this and get it straight – crime is a sucker’s road and those who travel it end up in the gutter, the prison or the grave’ – and stressed the essential underlying soundness of society. Detective stories were on the whole much less costly to put on than comedy or variety. In 1945

in Cinema and radio in Britain and America, 1920–60

. BFY is dedicated to continuing that spell – by keeping the cinema alive at the heart of the community. 33 As Docherty, Morrison and Tracey pointed out, the BFY campaign assumed the level of a ‘moral crusade: a cry to the masses to renew their faith in film by returning to the place of true worship – the cinema’. 34 In many ways the rhetoric used by the organisers of BFY

in From silent screen to multi-screen

measure through the Commons demonstrates that numerous other constraints also worked to shape the relationship between the state and the cinema during the Second World War. These constraints, be they moral, political, fiscal or military, suggest that the relationship between cinema and state was influenced by a host of factors that neither the government nor the cinemas could be confident of fully controlling. The CEA and the government might have sought to work together to find a way of ensuring that the cinema do its bit in wartime, but other parties were capable of

in Cinemas and cinemagoing in wartime Britain, 1939–45
Cinemagoing in the blitz

place on staff. Some cinemas knocked up temporary sleeping quarters for staff, so that rather than struggling to get to and from their homes they might snatch a few hours sleep in between the All Clear and the starting of a new shift. In London, the manager of one Granada theatre noted that ‘the moral [sic] of the staff is really good considering that they have to sleep here practically every night’.32 Some managers remained in their theatres for days or even weeks at a time; in extremis they installed their families, too.33 Quickly, though, the long hours became too

in Cinemas and cinemagoing in wartime Britain, 1939–45