British Cinema of the 1950s: A Celebration

By Ian MacKillop; Neil Sinyard | Go to book overview

Celebrating British cinema
of the 1950s

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anti-intelligent, emotionally inhibited, willfully blind to the conditions and problems of the present, dedicated to an out of date, exhausted national idea.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 contained the smallest tincture of reality? (Frederic Raphael)

THE ORIGIN OF this book is an event which took place on Saturday, 5 December 1998 at the British Library in London. It was a study day consisting of lectures about British cinema in the 1950s: most of these are printed here, with an equal number of new essays which have been written since. In the evenings of the week preceding the study day, seven films were screened. They appeared under the headings of `Festive Fifties' (The Importance of Being Earnest, in a sparkling new print), `Community Fifties' (John and Julie and The Browning Version), `Tough Fifties' (Women of Twilight and Hell Drivers) and `Women's Fifties' (My Teenage Daughter and Yield to the Night).

____________________
I am Professor of English Literature at the University of Sheffield. I am the author of two books on British intellectual life: F. R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism (Allan Lane, 1995) and The British Ethical Societies (Cambridge University Press, 1985), and a book about François Truffaut and Henri Pierre Roché, author of Jules and Jim and Two English Girls and the Continent. Ian MacKillop

I have written over twenty books on film, including studies of Richard Lester, Nicolas Roeg and Jack Clayton. I am the co-editor of the ongoing series of monographs, `British Film Makers', published by Manchester University Press. I grew up in the 1950s and my love of cinema dates from a childhood which has left indelible filmgoing memories: of a cinema within walking distance of seemingly everyone's home, of copies of Picturegoer and the ABC Film Review, of usherettes, and choc ices before the main feature, of continuous programmes that permitted you to stay in the cinema all day and see the main feature more than once, of the undignified scramble at the end to get out before the striking up of the National Anthem. Neil Sinyard

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