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Brian McFarlane

Bernard Knowles 3 Like Crabtree, Knowles had a long career as a cinematographer before making his debut as director in 1945, a year after Crabtree but at the same studio. His record as a cinematographer began in 1927 and he had racked up forty-three credits in this role in the ensuing seventeen years, emerging as a major practitioner with a record of making directors’ work visually interesting and lighting stars – ‘the money’ – in such ways as to make them look their glowing best. He had a run of popular films as director in the late 1940s, but, arguably, his

in Four from the forties
Author: Brian McFarlane

The 1940s represent a high point in the history of British film, characterised by the works of such recognised greats as David Lean and Michael Powell. But alongside this ‘quality cinema’ there exists a body of popular productions by film-makers who have not yet been the objects of detailed scholarly attention. Four from the forties addresses this oversight, drawing attention to four directors whose career trajectories had a good deal in common and can tell us much about what British film-goers expected from the cinema in this crucial decade. Leslie Arliss, Arthur Crabtree, Bernard Knowles and Lawrence Huntington were all born at the turn of the century. All had been active in a range of film-making functions in the 1930s, and all would do their most proficient and popular work in the 1940s, thereafter prolonging their careers into the 1960s through ‘B’ movies, co-features and television. Taken together, they offer a commentary on the changing fortunes of mid-century British cinema.

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Where to, now?
Brian Mcfarlane

dominated by the likes of those sketched above, a number of directors who had made some mark in the 1940s were to find difficulties in conducting careers at the same level in the succeeding decades. Among those who, like Comfort, had made their names and their most attractive films in the melodramatic mode were Leslie Arliss, Bernard Knowles, Arthur Crabtree and Lawrence Huntington. Arliss and Huntington had worked as

in Lance Comfort
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Brian McFarlane

concerns. The purpose of the present book is to draw attention to four directors whose career trajectories had a good deal in common and can tell us much about what British filmgoers were flocking to see in this crucial decade when they were at their most prolific. They are Leslie Arliss, Arthur Crabtree, Bernard Knowles and Lawrence Huntington. All were born at the turn of the century (Arliss in 1901, the other three in 1900); all had been active in a range of film-making functions in the 1930s; and each would do his most proficient and popular work in the 1940s. After

in Four from the forties
Brian Mcfarlane

, Leslie Arliss, Lawrence Huntington or Bernard Knowles. To refer briefly to Pierre Bourdieu’s idea of the ‘field of cultural production’ 2 may suggest ways in which Comfort’s predilections as individual artist, and British cinema (embracing production, exhibition, audience reception and critical discourse) as the site of his activity, helped to shape a career lasting four decades, two-and-a-half of these as a director. What

in Lance Comfort
Philip Gillett

something more real than the real thing (Chapter Three). This is an expression of Ien Ang’s psychological reality noted in the context of Old Mother Riley films (Chapter Ten). Whatever the faults of It Always Rains on Sunday , Hamer sought psychological as well as physical veracity. The risk in abandoning any pretence of realism is the sentimentality which afflicts The White Unicorn (d. Bernard Knowles, 1947). A century earlier

in The British working class in postwar film
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Brian McFarlane

, though other directors highlighted in this book – Arthur Crabtree and Bernard Knowles – would also make their contribution to this immensely popular vein of British film production. Of course, it is not just the directors who were responsible; the producers, cinematographers, production and costume designers regularly associated with the studio undoubtedly facilitated and left their mark on this string of box-office hits, not to speak of the stars who became household names in them, if, unlike Margaret Lockwood, they were not already so. Ted Black had taken over as

in Four from the forties
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The treatment of the young offender
Philip Gillett

(d. Bernard Knowles, 1947), Lucy (Margaret Lockwood) is matron of a remand home, euphemistically called a mission for girls. One inmate, Lottie (Joan Greenwood), is involved in a fight. As Lucy reasons with her, their stories are revealed. Lottie comes from a large family with a violent father. She left home to work in a department store. There she met a wealthy customer, Paul (Paul Dupuis), who seduced her, only to abandon

in The British working class in postwar film
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Portrayals of the working-class family
Philip Gillett

the wellspring of faulty socialisation. In The White Unicorn (d. Bernard Knowles, 1947) and When the Bough Breaks (d. Lawrence Huntington, 1947), children are as much a source of heartbreak as pleasure. The films considered in this chapter have the family as their centrepiece. A family seen struggling through the war are the Colters in Waterloo Road (d. Sidney Gilliat, 1945). The story is told

in The British working class in postwar film
Goodbye to the working class
Philip Gillett

and socialist stance give the film the feel of a Labour Party polemic from the 1930s. A decade was to pass before industrial landscapes became fashionable in the new wave of British realist films. Rags to riches was not a popular theme in contemporary film drama of the 1940s, though its use in costume dramas including Blanche Fury (d. Marc Allégret, 1948) and The Reluctant Widow (d. Bernard Knowles

in The British working class in postwar film