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

By Stephen C. Shafer

Shafer's learn demanding situations the traditional historic assumption that British characteristic motion pictures through the Thirties have been more often than not orientated to the middle-class. as an alternative, he makes the serious contrast among movies meant for West finish and foreign move and people meant essentially for household, working-class audiences. faraway from being alientated via a 'middle-class institution', operating women and men flocked to determine images 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)

Sample text

While the information derived from this implicit assumption of popularity has been instructive, for the purpose of this study, several major questions remain untouched by all of this analysis. Though Gifford’s broad categorizations are useful, the content of British popular cinema remains largely a mystery even after such a close inspection of what can be gathered from his data. Though the categories of films that were produced by the studios and their proportionate significance has been presented, the nature of neither characters nor plots has been considered.

The percentages of musicals produced throughout the thirties were usually in the midteens, with the high point being 1936 when the forty-eight British musicals constituted Myths and unsupported assumptions 21 about 22 percent of all releases. 46 The figures become somewhat more impressive when revues, which were typically musically orientated, are incorporated. Although Gifford differentiates between revues and musicals, revues would include almost invariably a large proportion of songs, singalongs, and musical numbers.

Additionally, a fairly significant minority of the films produced every year were set in a working-class environment of some kind, such as in mines, in factories, in shipyards, in neighborhood pubs, or in slums. 4 demonstrates that usually one out of every three films had a working-class setting and that in 1934 and in 1935, the proportion was approximately two of every five English films. 6 But again, these raw figures are far more interesting than significant. The mere presence of a working-class character does not mean that he or she is an appealing figure; nor does it provide any sense of how the audience reacted to that presence or of how the character was portrayed.

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