British Popular Films, 1929-1939: The Cinema of Reassurance by Stephen C. Shafer

By Stephen C. Shafer

Shafer's research demanding situations the normal ancient assumption that British function motion pictures in the course of the Thirties have been often orientated to the middle-class. as a substitute, he makes the serious contrast among movies meant for West finish and foreign move and people meant basically for household, working-class audiences. faraway from being alientated by way of a 'middle-class institution', operating women and men flocked to work out photos that includes such music-hall luminaries as Gracie Fields and George Formby.

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Extra info for British Popular Films, 1929-1939: The Cinema of Reassurance (Studies in Film, Television and the Media)

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This critique is worth reviewing. ”2 This overemphasis on comedy, Roberts felt, was paralleled by a generally unrealistic sense of drama in British productions; and what drama there was rarely involved the British working classes. 4 Roberts concluded that the film industry’s dependence on the British stage stifled any reasonable portrayal of the working classes, and that a realistic depiction of the lives of ordinary people would never be possible without a substantial change in the way British movie production was conducted.

One small surprise in these figures is the relatively insignificant proportion of “history” films, since this genre is one of the few areas in which British commercial cinema of the thirties was able to develop any lasting international reputation. The success of Alexander Korda’s Private Life of Henry VIII seems to have inspired a brief, though surprisingly small, trend toward history films. These movies had greater success abroad, perhaps because so many of them were made by Korda whose distribution agreement insured access to American markets; accordingly, the films became better known and have retained a lasting prestige.

I have lived in the East End all my life and know that the average shop girl, for example, is an intelligent and well-spoken person. 20 But these negative reactions to the portrayal of the working classes were hardly uniform; in fact, the absence of more such critical responses, along with the presence of at least as many comments defending British films and the continuing popularity of these movies among the working classes suggests that there was no consensus about working-class characterizations among filmgoers.

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