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.

Open Access (free)
Robert Hamer after Ealing
Philip Kemp

forgotten in the condemned cell: the incriminating manuscript that occupied his supposed last hours on earth. So ends Robert Hamer’s best-known film, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). It’s an elegant, teasing sign-off from a movie that has teased us elegantly all through – luring us into complicity with its cool, confidential voice-over, holding us at arm’s length with its deadpan irony. The final gag, with

in British cinema of the 1950s
Ian Mackillop and Neil Sinyard

approach, apologetically undertaken) but also as aesthetic artefacts. It would not do to over-state the achievement: after all, it is a period in which directors such as Alberto Cavalcanti, Thorold Dickinson, Carol Reed and Robert Hamer (as Philip Kemp persuasively demonstrates in this collection) for the most part failed to deliver on the promise they had shown in the late 1940s. It is also a period which sees a migration to

in British cinema of the 1950s
Robert Murphy

Fisher, Powell and Baker, but for Basil Dearden, Val Guest, J. Lee Thompson, Roy and John Boulting, David Lean, Launder and Gilliatt, Alberto Cavalcanti, John Guillermin, Anthony Asquith and Thorold Dickinson. (Other directors, notably the ‘pessimists’ Carol Reed and Robert Hamer, are given their due elsewhere in the book.) He is robust in favourably contrasting denigrated British directors with their

in British cinema of the 1950s
Open Access (free)
The early British films of Joseph Losey
Neil Sinyard

form of a covert, subversive attack on capitalism, the British variety – as in Robert Hamer’s 1940s masterpieces It Always Rains on Sundays (1947) and Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) – more often exposed the inequities of the class system and proposed a sinister connection between influence and corruption, wealth and depravity. Losey spoke to James Leahy of ‘the degree to which the English class

in British cinema of the 1950s