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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.

The Spanish Gardener and its analogues

T HE SIXTH SENSE , an American film of 1999 from an Indian director, M. Night Shyamalan, with an all-American star (Bruce Willis), seems a very long way from British cinema of the 1950s. 1 But the boy in this film (Haley Joel Osment) seems almost a revenant from the British post-war era, with his lack of teenage quality, his innocence of youth culture and, more importantly, his anguished concern for

in British cinema of the 1950s
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Allistair is arrested. Meanwhile, Christine’s boyfriend has returned and married her. Unable to have children of her own, she adopts Viviane’s child. The film ends with the baby in Christine’s arms, reclaimed for respectability, while Viviane lies pallid but smiling on the bed. The title of both play and film is doubly apt. Women of Twilight hovers uneasily in the twilight areas of post-war

in British cinema of the 1950s
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The King’s Speech as melodrama

montage sequence, intensely poignant as a result of our extra-textual knowledge of the atrocities the war would bring, 59 represents the ‘imagined community’ of the ‘nation’, to use Benedict Anderson’s term, 60 one in which class relations and inequalities are harmonised and wartime Britain is represented as ‘one large family whose common concerns ride above any sectional interests’. 61 The melodramatic mode of address, in

in The British monarchy on screen

about The Spanish Gardener , if the moral health of the country can be gauged by the way it treats its children, then the British cinema of the time was giving off some quite ambiguous signals. Films like Alexander Mackendrick’s Mandy (1952) and J. Lee Thompson’s The Yellow Balloon (1952) both convey a troubled sense of the vulnerability of children in an era of post-war demoralisation where the scars of battle are still

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

: that of sustaining, in the changing post-war world, something of the impetus of the realist British cinema of wartime. The critical consensus of the 1940s may have given excessive weight to this realist trend, at the expense of the less austere cinema of, for instance, Powell and Pressburger and Gains-borough melodrama, but there was, indubitably, a significant coming together of feature and

in British cinema of the 1950s
From Vietnam to the war in the Persian Gulf

of bombs on Hanoi and Haiphong than Germany dropped on Great Britain from 1940 to 1945’. 42 In total, the US dropped three times the number of bombs on Vietnam as had been dropped anywhere during the whole of the World War Two. 43 In a memorandum to President Johnson in 1967, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara wrote ‘[the] picture of the world’s greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1

in Memory and popular film

, gone down the road of revolution whereas the free world had taken the more careful democratic route. Its cautious consensual progress was consolidated in the post-war settlement, its modest optimism maintaining a fragile balance which typified the British ‘tone’ of the 1950s. In 1955 the American Edward Shils observed Britain’s security curiously in Encounter

in British cinema of the 1950s

. I work for the British Universities Film and Video Council on their British Newsreels Project. I am currently researching British women non-fiction film-makers. My interest in the post-war modernisation of Britain led me to programme a season of films and curate an exhibition at the National Film Theatre for May 2001 celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1951 Festival

in British cinema of the 1950s

the rise of Hitler – to link together the disparate films he discusses. 10 Durgnat sets himself looser parameters, offering ‘a survey of some major recurring themes in British movies between 1945 – being the end of the war and the election of the post-war Labour government – and 1958, when the success of Room at the Top marks the breakthrough of a new cinema’. In From

in British cinema of the 1950s