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Fixing the past in English war films

as a result not only of his quite amazing facility for learning foreign languages – at his death he spoke and read eleven – but of his luminous intelligence, his gifts as a poet, his striking high-mindedness and idealism, his strong sense of the comic. At Oxford in 1938, with Iris Murdoch as his sweetheart, he was, like all generous-hearted and public-spirited young men and women of his class, a

in British cinema of the 1950s
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, she finds herself convicted for murder and sentenced to death. Most of the film’s action takes place in Mary’s condemned cell as she waits to hear if her appeal has been successful and relives her doomed love affair with Jim (Michael Craig) that led to her crime passionel and her arrest. The film, unusually, does not have a happy ending: there is no last-minute reprieve for Mary. The film concludes as

in British cinema of the 1950s
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tyrannical landlady Helen Allistair (Freda Jackson). Squalid and overcrowded, it nonetheless functions for Viviane as an anonymous place of sanctuary, where she can temporarily conceal herself from the prying gaze of the outside world. Whilst she is there, Jerry is sentenced to death and executed. Initially, her despair at losing him means that she is lost in her own misery and able to ignore the blatant exploitation

in British cinema of the 1950s
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Pat Jackson’s White Corridors

taking a blood sample from Tommy, he has, by a careless – and plausibly ‘Freudian’ – slip of the needle, infected himself; and when, predictably, he in turn fails to respond to orthodox treatment, he urges Sophie to inject him with the unauthorised experimental serum, even though both realise that his death would then result in criminal charges against her. His decline, and the devastating death of Tommy

in British cinema of the 1950s

, Touch of Evil . No visual impoverishment there. Far from being cinematically backward, 1950s British film had dashes of imagination that outdid more famous or prestigious examples from the cinematic canon. Lewis Gilbert’s The Good Die Young (1954) has a doomed fatalistic narration over a planned crime that becomes a rendezvous with death which anticipates the similar mode of narrative presentation in Stanley Kubrick’s The

in British cinema of the 1950s
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Robert Hamer after Ealing

a hopelessly unrealistic demand even at Ealing, let alone any other postwar British studio. Between quitting Ealing in 1949 and his death in 1963 Hamer completed – or at any rate is credited with – seven more films. They’re commonly written off as bleak and emotionally atrophied, blighted by his losing battle with alcohol. ‘His later films are all disappointing,’ wrote David Thomson, voicing the

in British cinema of the 1950s
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scene where Montana decides to abort a car bomb assassination, prompted by some inner moral Lo v e reserve because of the presence of the diplomat’s family in the car, suggests something more in Montana’s psyche than simple paternalism. His search for the American Dream succeeds in material terms, but the absence of any love that might nourish his better moral instincts leads inexorably to a slow hollowing out of his entire being, resulting in a death surrounded by materiality but little value. More optimistically, in Wall Street, Stone returned to the father–​ son

in The cinema of Oliver Stone

is attacked and their tax and rent collector, Gabelle, writes to England begging his help. Charles returns to France, is arrested and sentenced to death. His life is saved by Sydney Carton, a drunken and dissolute young lawyer, whom physically he resembles. Charles and Sydney are both in love with Lucie Manette, daughter of a French aristocrat long incarcerated in the Bastille. Carton smuggles Charles out of prison and

in British cinema of the 1950s

, the Houses of Parliament and council committee meetings. It was well received by the press and Jennings’s fellow documentarists. In retrospect it is difficult to say just how much of this praise was a result of Jennings’s accidental death at the end of 1950. Many of the film’s notices read like obituary eulogies. Writing in the Edinburgh Film Festival publication, Film Festival: Third Week , Edgar

in British cinema of the 1950s
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Yale’s Chronicles of America

Frontier Woman justifies the total war waged to exterminate the Indian foe by drawing upon the recurrent trope in American literature and art of white women and children menaced by ‘savages’. White women’s fear of death, and worse than death, at the hands of Indians, provided the inspiration for the first American literary genre and the first American best-sellers, the captivity narratives, as well as for

in Memory and popular film