Berman, and Tempean Films
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 of these ﬁlms, or to make unsustainable claims for their being long- buried, unsung treasures of auteurist ﬁlm-making. It is worth looking at the Tempean phenomenon for a number of reasons in a book devoted to 1950s British cinema. First, it relates signiﬁcantly to the exhibition procedures of the period, when audiences typically expected a `double bill', with a main feature and a supporting ﬁlm, which might be designated either a co-feature or a second feature according to the lavishness of its casting and budget. If a major ﬁlm ran to over two hours, say, it was likely to be supported by `shorts' (often designated `selected featurettes') rather than by another feature ﬁlm of the kind made by Tempean. In any case, a three-hour programme was the norm, and as long as this persisted, there was a steady demand for the sort of supporting ﬁlm Tempean made until the late 1950s.
Thus, second, Tempean sums up a proliﬁc area of 1950s production, fuelled by these exhibition patterns. To rifﬂe through the pages of Denis Gifford's British Film Catalogue is to be aware of how much activity at this level there was from the late 1940s through until the mid-1960s. 2 If it has been the focus for so little critical attention, this may be the result of several factors, including the unforgiving approach to the `quota quickies' of the 1930s, ﬁlms____________________