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.
W HITE CORRIDORS , a hospital drama first shown in June
1951, belongs to the small class of fictional films that deny themselves
a musical score. Even the brief passages that top and tail the film,
heard over the initial credits and the final image, were added against
the wish of its director, PatJackson. Jackson had spent the first ten
years of his career in documentary, joining the GPO Unit in the
White Corridors . 16 Directed by PatJackson, 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 White Corridors , the film
PatJackson; Brian McFarlane’s heartening
tribute to that staple diet of the double bill, the British B-movie; Stephen
Lacey’s analysis of the close interaction between theatre and film in
the British cinema of this decade; Kerry Kidd’s reading of Women of
Twilight that fascinatingly reconstructs the sexual politics of the
time. As well as revaluing large areas of British cinema, the book offers
surveys of other cinematic
as that comparing PatJackson’s masterpiece of
wartime realism, Western Approaches (1944), with Don
Chaffey’s pre-Roman epic, Jason and the Argonauts (1963).
But this was an ageing and shrinking readership, and for the academic
mind unprepared to follow the convoluted logic of Durgnat’s
method, the book must have seemed inexcusably haphazard and untidy.
Durgnat warns us in his introduction that he
(Cass)* 1957 Hour of Decision (C. Pennington-Richards) Stranger in Town (George Pollock) High Terrace (Cass) 1958 Stormy Crossing (Pennington-Richards) The Trollenberg Terror (Quentin Lawrence) Blind Spot (Peter Maxwell, for
Butcher’s) Blood of the Vampire (Cass) Sea of Sand (Guy Green) 1959 Jack the Ripper (Baker) The Flesh and the Fiends (Baker) 1960 The Siege of Sidney Street (Baker) 1961 The Hellfire Club (Baker) The Treasure of Monte Cristo (Baker) 1962 What a Carve Up! (PatJackson
, ‘Experiences of an Army Sister in the Middle East’.
44 H.B. Woods, ‘Treatment of severe war-
time burns’, Nursing Times
(5 November 1943): 833.
45 Morris, ‘The diary of a wartime nurse’ (5 October 1944), 144; Morris, A Very
Private Diary, 126–7.
46 T.B. Layton, ‘Transport of wounded: Surgical aspects’, The Lancet (23 March
47 Hutchinson, ‘My war and welcome to it’, 40.
48 Dorothy B. Doughty, ‘History of ostomy surgery’, Journal of Wound Ostomy
Continence Nursing 35, 1 (2008): 34–8.
49 The Feminine Touch. Director, PatJackson, written by Iain