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A celebration

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.

Open Access (free)
Robert Hamer after Ealing
Philip Kemp

forgotten in the condemned cell: the incriminating manuscript that occupied his supposed last hours on earth. So ends Robert Hamer’s best-known film, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). It’s an elegant, teasing sign-off from a movie that has teased us elegantly all through – luring us into complicity with its cool, confidential voice-over, holding us at arm’s length with its deadpan irony. The final gag, with

in British cinema of the 1950s
Mapping the industrial working-class home
Hollie Price

originally proposed in the late 1930s but not made until the early years of the war due to its ‘sordid’ representation of working-class conditions, and It Always Rains on Sunday (d. Robert Hamer, 1947 ), a much-celebrated fictional depiction of the East End of London in the immediate postwar years. 17 Expanding on existing analysis of these films, I contextualise the visual spectacle of the working-class home onscreen in relation to this earlier culture of social investigation, focusing particularly on photo-essays exploring the same theme in Picture Post magazine in

in Picturing home
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The treatment of the young offender
Philip Gillett

the past for good measure. More equivocal is Kind Hearts and Coronets (d. Robert Hamer, 1949). With its sympathetic viewpoint towards a mass murderer, the film is dissident, though leavened by being set in the past – albeit a past within memory – and by being ostensibly a comedy – albeit a black comedy. It is also framed by having the story told in flashback, but the narrator is the central character, Louis Mazzini, who

in The British working class in postwar film
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Where to, now?
Brian Mcfarlane

), comedies often celebrating eccentricity but rooted in the minutiae of everyday life. The directors associated with these – Robert Hamer, Charles Crichton and Alexander Mackendrick – would all continue productively into the 1950s, but they too would be superseded in the latter half of the decade by the popularity of different genres (the horror film, for example) and the emergence of new directors. In a field

in Lance Comfort
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Robert Murphy

Yellow Balloon (1952) – were not eradicated until the following decade. Films celebrating British achievements in the war dominated the box office, but less glorious legacies of the war continued to play a role in British film noirs. Ralph Thomas’s The Clouded Yellow , Basil Dearden’s Cage of Gold and Jacques Tourneur’s Circle of Danger (1951) all feature maladjusted war veterans. Robert Hamer’s The

in European film noir
‘A tale of two cads’
Andrew Roberts

Terry-Thomas was born Thomas Terry Hoar Stevens on 10 July 1911 and died of Parkinson’s disease on 8 January 1990. After many years as a leading television and variety comedian, Pr i vate’s Progress (John Boulting 1956) established him as British cinema’s cad du jour, culminating in School for Scoundrels (Robert Hamer/Cyril Frankel 1960). Leslie Phillips was born in London on 20 April 1924 and trained at the Italia Conti Academy. His roles as a would-be seducer in Carry On Nurse (1959) – catchphrase ‘ding dong!’ – and Doctor in Love (Ralph Thomas 1960

in Idols of the Odeons
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The ‘actor’s actor’?
Andrew Roberts

Organisation that showcased Peter Finch’s depiction of confused and angry middle-class males in Windom’s Way (Ronald Neame 1957). As Sue Harper and Vincent Porter so appositely note, the 1950s was ‘a dynamic and often confusing period in which new and old methods fought, often to the death’ ( 2003 : 2). Peter Finch was a key actor of this transitional era, as demonstrated by his work with Jack Clayton, Michael Powell, Ralph Thomas, Robert Hamer and Roy Ward Baker. Network may have won Finch an Oscar, but it was so many British productions from No Love for Johnnie

in Idols of the Odeons
Quentin Falk

, future projects and so on. Many problems were sorted out over a pint of beer or a tot of whisky. 7 No wonder it was often referred to as a ‘spiritual home’, with the emphasis on spirits. The Red Lion was nicknamed Stage Six because periodically it was probably just as busy as the official five stages at the studios just across the road, where Frend and Crichton together with Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer – these four were born within a year or two of each other – Harry Watt and, a little later, Alexander Mackendrick would became the core of the directing team

in Charles Crichton
Who were the criminals?
Philip Gillett

’s just that bit of style and poise, that knowing you’re different from the ordinary run of fellows – that’s what makes a spiv.’ 1 Thus Tommy Swann in It Always Rains on Sunday (d. Robert Hamer, 1947) is a spiv, while the gang who steal roller skates in the same film are petty criminals. Not that a spiv would be averse to stealing roller skates, given the opportunity. In Naughton’s words, ‘He’ll swindle at cards, on a dog

in The British working class in postwar film