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.
mid-1930s and staying on throughout the war after its rebranding as
Crown, and the denial of music is clearly part of a strategy for giving
a sense of documentary-like reality to the fictional material of
There is a certain paradox here, in that actual
documentaries, like newsreels, normally slap on music liberally. To take
two submarine-centred features, released almost
WhiteCorridors . 16 Directed by Pat Jackson, who brought some of the grittier
style of his background in the left-leaning documentary movement, the film for once
identified the NHS as a state service, and it updated the moral dilemmas of medicine to
speak to this setting. There is indeed ‘a clear optimism about the scope and
efficiency of the NHS’. 17 The
important point, however, is that this kind of direct reference to the service remained
remarkably rare. Even when it comes to WhiteCorridors , the film
. Coultass, British Official Films in the Second World
War (Oxford: Clio Press, 1980).
17 Quoted in Fox, Film Propaganda in Britain and Nazi Germany, p. 115.
18 Winston, ‘Fires Were Started – ’, p. 21.
19 Chapman, ‘Cinema, Propaganda and National Identity’, p. 199. Other sources
on the ‘wartime wedding’ include Murphy, Realism and Tinsel, chapter 2, and C.
Barr, ‘The National Health: Pat Jackson’s WhiteCorridors’, in I. MacKillop and N.
Sinyard (eds), British Cinema of the 1950s: A Celebration (Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 2005), pp. 64–73. According to
); the light titillating comedies of
Richard Gordon’s Doctor series, later superseded by the equally
popular Carry On films; or heart-warming stories of endurance
( Scott of the Antarctic , 1948), suspense ( The Sound Barrier ,
1952) and crusading tragedies ( WhiteCorridors and Cry the Beloved
Country , both 1951). Even more depressing was the endless refighting of
World War Two in films such as The Cruel Sea (1953
– WhiteCorridors (Pat Jackson,
1951). Though the primary reason for the comparison is a study of actor
James Donald, who plays the leading roles in both films, Barr suggests
7/26/05, 10:07 AM
genre and british cinema
that the films are to be admired for ‘the vivid way they express particular
kinds of early 1950s idealism’, and The Net specifically expresses ‘a
pursuit of new technology and new frontiers, in the spirit of the 1951
Festival of Britain and the New Elizabethan Age’.28 Both films, he suggests, ‘are deceptively artful
Corporate medical horror in late twentieth-century American transfer fiction
infrastructural spaces, decayed industrial basements, and sterile whitecorridors. The project is wholly corporate and commercial, the US government reduced to an investor (the Department of Defense contributes millions). As in the earlier works, private profit and state investment are combined, but here private medicalised profit has moved entirely out of state control.
Spectral finance and bleeding bodies: transfer horror and the secondary life of finance
As discussed in my Introduction, spectral and supernatural imagery has long been invoked to describe the workings of
experienced and traditionally somehow physically maimed Byronic
hero, but also provides the possibility of an ironic reversal of a
gothic elopement, when Arachne kidnaps him from an old
people’s home – one of the truly nightmarish spaces in
the text, with its ‘endless whitecorridor that seems like an
entrance to a dream where walls are terrifying and forever’
(225). Their affair is
Players’ Theatre during the war, and cut her cinematic teeth in DOCUMENTARIES . She also had notable successes on stage ( Variations on a Theme , 1958) and television ( The Brothers , 1972–76). On screen, her dignity and warmth were superbly served by the 1953 hit, The Kidnappers.
OTHER BRITISH FILMS : The Mark of Cain (scenes deleted) (1947), Elizabeth of Ladymead (1948), The Romantic Age (1949), The Franchise Affair (1950), Out of True, Life in Her Hands, WhiteCorridors (1951 ), The Brave Don’t Cry (1952), Johnny on the Run, Street Corner (1953