Neil sinyard

In Hollywood you're still one of the bad boys. (The Intimate .Stranger) He doesn't like the world. It's a good beginning. (The Damned) Ever an emotional soul, Dirk Bogarde confessed to being reduced to tears by the rave review in The Times when The Servant was premiered at the end of 1963. For Bogarde, this prestigious endorsement of his extraordinary performance as Barrett, the man-servant who brings the life of the aristocrat he serves crashing down about his ears, was a career turning-point,...

Isabel quigly

The past is a foreign country.' This magical first sentence from The Go-Between (1953) was the opening line of the first novel I was ever sent to review. The Manchester Guardian, as it was then, had sent me a parcel of books and after reading L. P. Hartley's masterly tale of love and snobbery and guile and much else I felt that if this was reviewing, it was a wonderful way of earning, not perhaps a living, but at least a crust. Soon afterwards I was asked, out of the blue, to be film critic of...

Fred inglis

.At the very end of Saving Private Ryan (1998), Steven Spielberg presents us with a screen-filling view of the Stars and Stripes. The flag is huge, well-travelled, loved and faded, like a Jasper Johns painting. It is held out bravely by the wind, which blows it rollingly across the full screen. It is now unthinkable that a British film would end in such a strong, big-hearted and perfectly unironic way. Even British Airways took the flag off their tail fins, though it is to the point of my...

Tony aldgate

In May 1950 the Wheare Committee recommended that a new 'X' category be introduced and applied to films intended for exhibition to 'adults only'. By January 1951, the British Board of Film Censors BBFC agreed to the implementation of an 'X' certificate which limited the cinema-going audience to those over 16 years of age. 'It is our desire', said the BBFC secretary, Arthur Watkins, 'that X films should not be merely sordid films dealing with unpleasant subjects, but films which, while not being...

Stephen lacey

There is no doubt that British theatre has been very important to the development of British cinema, and - the input of television in general and Channel 4 in particular notwithstanding - it remains so, as a quick glance at the number of film adaptations from stage plays from the 1980s and early 1990s testifies. This is clearly the case in the 1950s, not least because a great many films have their origins in the theatre. I estimate that of the 1,033 British films of the 1950s listed in David...

Dave rolinson

For every 1950s British comedy assimilated into the academic canon, there are many which have fallen into obscurity, reinforcing the alleged disposability of the form. One of the highest-profile casualties is The Horse's Mouth Ronald Neame, 1958 , which was justly celebrated at the time for Alec Guinness's performance as aggressively antisocial artist Gulley Jimson, but has since suffered from the critical neglect regarding Neame's work. It is true that the film dilutes the complex themes of...

Robert murphy

If clearly marked personal style is one's criterion of interest, then few British films reward the concern given to such directors as, say, Dreyer, Bunuel, Franju and Renoir. But other criteria of interest exist, whereby many of the subtlest meanings behind a personal style may be related to the collective vision of a particular tradition, period, background or 'school'. It's logical and usual to consider even impersonal and anonymous artworks as an expression of a general consensus A Mirror...

Ian mackillop and neil sinyard

To counterbalance the rather tepid humanism of our cinema, it might also be said that it is snobbish, anti-intelligent, emotionally inhibited, willfully blind to the conditions and problems of the present, dedicated to an out of date, exhausted national idea. Lindsay Anderson Who will ever forget those days at Iver when, cloistered in the fumed oak dining room reminiscent of the golf club where no one ever paid his subscription , frightened producers blanched at the mere idea of any film that...

Alison platt

The Sixth Sense, an American film of 1999 from an Indian director, M. Night Shyamalan, with an all-American star Bruce Willis , seems a very long way from British cinema of the 1950s.1 But the boy in this film Haley Joel Osment seems almost a revenant from the British post-war era, with his lack of teenage quality, his innocence of youth culture and, more importantly, his anguished concern for and with the adult Willis whom he befriends. Here there is something of Carol Reed's The Fallen Idol...

Erik hedling

The 1950s represents an upheaval in European film history. The financial losses of the Europeans, as compared to the Americans on the popular market, caused drastic changes within the European film industries, leading up to the continental government-subsidised film industries of the present. Even if the historical reasons for the changes in European film policies were mainly socio-economic, they were at the time mostly discussed and dealt with in aesthetic terms, and we saw eventually the...

Dominic shellard

Terence Rattigan's reputation has essentially been that of a theatre writer, and a conservative one, who is supposed to have avoided the darker themes that invaded the British stage after roughly the arrival of Look Back in Anger in 1956. This view of Rattigan is by now surely on its way out. His relation to the theatre and the so-called New Wave is undoubtedly more complex. However, his track record as a screenwriter, sometimes but not always adapting his own plays, should not be forgotten. In...

Robert giddings

There was probably never a book by a great humorist, and an artist so prolific in the conception of character, with so little humour and so few rememberable figures. Its merits lie elsewhere. John Forster, The Life oof Charles Dickens 1872 lph Thomas's A Tale of Two Cities of 1958 occupies a secure if modest place among that bunch of 1950s British releases based on novels by Dickens, including Brian Desmond Hurst's Scrooge 1951 and Noel Langley's The Pickwick Papers 1952 .1 When all the...

Melanie williams

Jean-Luc Godard once remarked that all you need to make a film is 'a girl and a gun' and the opening sequence of Yield to the Night J. Lee Thompson, 1956 looks like a textbook illustration of his axiom. The girl is Mary Hilton, played by Diana Dors, who whips out the gun from her handbag and promptly shoots the woman she holds responsible for her lover's suicide. As a result, she finds herself convicted for murder and sentenced to death. Most of the film's action takes place in Mary's condemned...

Philip kemp

Louis Mazzini, serial killer and tenth Duke of Chalfont, emerges from jail, cleared of the murder for which he was about to hang. Waiting for him, along with two attractive rival widows, is a bowler-hatted little man from a popular magazine bidding for his memoirs. 'My memoirs ' murmurs Louis, the faintest spasm of panic ruffling his urbanity, and we cut to a pile of pages lying forgotten in the condemned cell the incriminating manuscript that occupied his supposed last hours on earth. So ends...

Charles barr

Wh ite 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, Pat Jackson. Jackson had spent the first ten years of his career in documentary, joining the GPO Unit in the mid-i930s and staying on throughout the war after its rebranding as Crown, and the denial of...

Sarah easen

The 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 Director General of the Festival, Gerald Barry, promised 'a year of fun, fantasy and colour', an...

Brian mcfarlane

You don't need to be as fond of British 'B' movies of the 1950s as I am to feel that there is something to be said for the production team of Bob Baker and Monty Berman and their production company, Tempean.1 The second features that emerged from this partnership are generally speaking fast-moving, unpretentious, lively and characterful, and, within their modest budgets, well enough staged to look more expensive than they were. However, it is not my primary intention to offer elaborate analyses...