This book offers a startling re-evaluation of what has until now been seen as the most critically lacklustre period of the British film history. It includes fresh assessment of maverick directors; Pat Jackson, Robert Hamer and Joseph Losey, and even of a maverick critic Raymond Durgnat. The book features personal insights from those inidividually implicated in 1950s cinema; Corin Redgrave on Michael Redgrave, Isabel Quigly on film reviewing, and Bryony Dixon of the BFI on archiving and preservation. A classic image from 1950s British cinema would be Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea, the epitome of quiet English integrity. Raymond Durgnat's A Mirror for England: British Movies from Austerity to Affluence, which deals extensively with British films of the 1950s, was written in the mid-1960s and was published in 1970. In a 1947 article called 'Angles of Approach' Lindsay Anderson delivered a fierce attack on contemporary British film culture, outlining a model for a devoted politics of creation, well in line with what we would later understand as auteurism and art cinema aesthetics . The war films of the 1950s together constitute the assented-to record of the emotions and moral judgments called upon to set in order those disorderly events. The book also talks about the Festival of Britain, White Corridors, and four Hamer's post-Ealing films: The Spider and the Fly, The Long Memory, Father Brown and The Scapegoat. A number of factors have contributed to the relative neglect of the 1950s as a decade in British cinema history.
underlying urges to settle down and live a more orderly and
I have sought to demonstrate that important links can be made
between films produced within very distinct periods of Britishfilmhistory,
and that British cinema has often returned to concerns around issues of
community, and cultural, sexual and national identity, and treated these
subjects in imaginative and thoughtful ways
has suggested that he is ‘perhaps the most underrated director
in Britishfilmhistory’;2 yet it may be closer to the mark to suggest that
Asquith has not really received the critical attention that would enable a
rating of his work in terms of the British cinema as yet. Although not
ignored by scholars and critics, his work has certainly not had anything
like the attention enjoyed by his most distinguished contemporary,
Alfred Hitchcock, and neither has it had the consideration devoted to
figures such as Michael Powell and David Lean. The riposte to that, of
British Films of the 1970s offers fresh critical insights into a diverse range of films including Carry On Girls, O Lucky Man!, Radio On, Winstanley, Cromwell, Akenfield, Requiem for a Village, That’ll Be the Day, Pressure, The Shout, The Long Good Fridayand The Offence. The book sets out to obtain a clearer understanding of two things – the fragmentary state of the filmmaking culture of the period, and the fragmentary nature of the nation that these films represent. This book shows us that British films of the period – often hybridised in terms of genre - mediate an increasingly diverse and contested culture. It argues that there is no singular narrative to be drawn about British cinema of the 1970s, other than the fact that films of the period offer evidence of a Britain (and ideas of Britishness) characterised by vicissitudes. But the book demonstrates that while the 1970s in British filmmaking (but also in British culture and society) was a period of struggle and instability, it was also a period of openings, of experiment, of new ideas, and, as such, of profound change. The book will be of interest to scholars working on British film history but also British socio-cultural history and geography. It will appeal to academics, postgraduate and undergraduate students. But it has also been written in a style that will make it accessible to the general reader.
liked them because they were horror films.
My developing interest in Terence Fisher’s films in the
years since first seeing the likes of The Curse of Frankenstein and
Dracula has been intertwined with and dependent on the way that
Britishfilmhistory has developed over the past two decades. Thanks to the
large number of books and articles about British cinema that are now
available, I am much more aware of the industrial
‘Community Fifties’ ( John and Julie and The Browning
Version ), ‘Tough Fifties’ ( Women of Twilight and
Hell Drivers ) and ‘Women’s Fifties’ ( My Teenage
Daughter and Yield to the Night ).
the 1950s? After all, as the prefatory remarks of Anderson and Raphael show,
this is perhaps the most derided decade in Britishfilmhistory. It is
commonly characterised as the era in which the national cinema
relation to the field of Britishfilmhistory and numerous others.
That such a range of topics can be addressed in a book such as
this is a testament to the richness of Scottish films, but the methods
I employ as well as the films I have selected for textual scrutiny
require some explication, particularly to appreciate the need to
look more closely at such seemingly well-known films. I have already
indicated some of the rationale for opting for lengthy, detailed
scrutiny rather than wide-ranging survey, but this need not mean
that my discussion are confined exclusively
-visioning of the archive, a point that is the film’s clearest mandate, searching Britishfilmhistory for voices and faces marginalised by mainstream culture.
The Last Angel of History
In 1996, at the British Film Institute’s African cinema conference, John Akomfrah reportedly stated that Third Cinema was dead. In fact, the reluctance on the part of Black Audio Film Collective to declare their own work Third Cinema had always been there. In what is the Collective’s most sustained statement on this, ‘Black Independents and
perfunctory comment in Britishfilmhistories so this essay will outline
aspects of its production, exhibition, distribution and reception.
Although the film is lost, various primary materials survive including a
single fragment (46 feet) of the early scenes of the film held by the
National Film and Television Archive (NFTVA), a book of the film and a
souvenir programme or press-book. The
that it was not only the British film industry that
was going through a profound set of changes during the 1970s, but
also the nation itself. British cinema of the 1970s is characterised
In his influential 1986 article, ‘The Lost Continent’, Julian
Petley argued that large areas of Britishfilmhistory remained
unexplored.74 Thankfully, since the mid-1980s, a plethora of
published material has allowed us to venture into the hinterlands
of Britishfilmhistory, and historians are to be saluted for breaking
this fertile new ground. Continued