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Sarah Easen

T HE FESTIVAL OF Britain, from 3 May to 30 September 1951, aimed to provide respite from the effects of World War II by celebrating the nation’s past achievements in the arts, industry and science, as well as looking hopefully to a future of progress and prosperity. It marked the halfway point of the century, a natural moment at which to take stock and examine advances in British society. The

in British cinema of the 1950s
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.

Ian Mackillop
Neil Sinyard

features of the decade. Archivist Bryony Dixon shows her expertise on how these films are preserved; Sarah Easen recalls the impact of the Festival of Britain on the British film industry; Eric Hedling and Robert Murphy pay homage to two of the most valuable film commentators of the period, Lindsay Anderson and Raymond Durgnat. Isabel Quigly sharply evokes the life of the national film critic during this time, in so doing

in British cinema of the 1950s
Open Access (free)
Bryony Dixon

to be worn by the public, this was enormously popular as an occasional spectacle – and still is. In this country a few stereoscopic films were made as exhibits for the Festival of Britain in 1951, an occasion when interestingly much of the government-financed film culture infrastructure came in by the back door.) ‘Gimmicky’ formats still have the power to attract audiences. Wide-screen format, of

in British cinema of the 1950s
Separate Tables, separate entities?
Dominic Shellard

, who also directed, is often seen as the end of his film career. (It was an unsatisfactory, though intermittently charming, tardy revival of his Festival of Britain stage play that celebrated nation and the Oliviers – Vivien Leigh had the Monroe role – called The Sleeping Prince .) But actually his last film was much more distinguished: Separate Tables (1959), an American adaptation by Rattigan

in British cinema of the 1950s
Open Access (free)
Fixing the past in English war films
Fred Inglis

empire and the decline of British (which is to say English) imperial power. No one can doubt the facts of that decline, nor regret what was, for many English men and women, the happy evaporation of empire. At the same time, I suggest that ‘decline’ itself became a reflex rhetorical weapon with which to describe the veerings of English cultural life from the time of the Festival of Britain onwards

in British cinema of the 1950s