British Cinema Of The 40s

British cinema of the 1940s freshly interpreted by Simon Heffer who explores old favourites in terms of their social and political message.

The British film industry went into the second world war still relatively naive.

It was behind Hollywood in terms of technical accomplishment and behind France in its sophistication - 1939 was, after all, the year of Gone With The Wind and La Regle du Jeu, both unrivalled in Britain at the time.

The early propaganda films were predictably facile and jingoistic; but as the threat of invasion passed and attention turned to winning the war rather than simply defending the country against the Nazi onslaught, British cinema became more subtle.

By late in the war, cinema became more concerned with presenting the basis for a new post-war settlement for the British people.

In five personal interpretations, Simon Heffer traces the ways in which British cinema moved from galvanising the public to challenging the established class system and arguing for social cohesion, with its consequent loss of individuality and furtherance of collectivism.

In the post-war period he looks at how film reflected a reaction among the public against state control and austerity and a new challenge to supposedly common values.

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ESSAY01Went The Day Well?2010091320110906

British cinema of the 1940s freshly interpreted by Simon Heffer who explores old favourites in terms of their social and political message.

The British film industry went into the second world war still relatively naive.

It was behind Hollywood in terms of technical accomplishment and behind France in its sophistication - 1939 was, after all, the year of Gone With The Wind and La Regle du Jeu, both unrivalled in Britain at the time.

The early propaganda films were predictably facile and jingoistic; but as the threat of invasion passed and attention turned to winning the war rather than simply defending the country against the Nazi onslaught, British cinema became more subtle.

By late in the war, cinema became more concerned with presenting the basis for a new post-war settlement for the British people.

In five personal interpretations, Simon Heffer traces the ways in which British cinema moved from galvanising the public to challenging the established class system and arguing for social cohesion, with its consequent loss of individuality and furtherance of collectivism.

In the post-war period he looks at how film reflected a reaction among the public against state control and austerity and a new challenge to supposedly common values.British cinema of the 1940s freshly interpreted by Simon Heffer who explores old favourites in terms of their social and political message.

In three personal interpretations, Simon Heffer traces the ways in which British cinema moved from galvanising the public to challenging the established class system and arguing for social cohesion, with its consequent potential loss of individuality.

In the post-war period he looks at how film reflected a reaction among the public against state control and austerity and a new challenge to supposedly common values.

1.

Went the Day Well?

In the first programme, Simon Heffer celebrates the 1942 Ealing film, based on a short story by Graham Greene, depicting how a village invaded by Germans unites against them and defeats them.

Despite the bloodshed, what emerges is an almost Utopian vision of rural peace that suggests itself as a possible microcosm for a less class-bound future society.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer on the utopian vision of the 1942 Ealing film Went the Day Well?

ESSAY01Went The Day Well?2010091320110906

British cinema of the 1940s freshly interpreted by Simon Heffer who explores old favourites in terms of their social and political message.

The British film industry went into the second world war still relatively naive.

It was behind Hollywood in terms of technical accomplishment and behind France in its sophistication - 1939 was, after all, the year of Gone With The Wind and La Regle du Jeu, both unrivalled in Britain at the time.

The early propaganda films were predictably facile and jingoistic; but as the threat of invasion passed and attention turned to winning the war rather than simply defending the country against the Nazi onslaught, British cinema became more subtle.

By late in the war, cinema became more concerned with presenting the basis for a new post-war settlement for the British people.

In five personal interpretations, Simon Heffer traces the ways in which British cinema moved from galvanising the public to challenging the established class system and arguing for social cohesion, with its consequent loss of individuality and furtherance of collectivism.

In the post-war period he looks at how film reflected a reaction among the public against state control and austerity and a new challenge to supposedly common values.British cinema of the 1940s freshly interpreted by Simon Heffer who explores old favourites in terms of their social and political message.

In three personal interpretations, Simon Heffer traces the ways in which British cinema moved from galvanising the public to challenging the established class system and arguing for social cohesion, with its consequent potential loss of individuality.

In the post-war period he looks at how film reflected a reaction among the public against state control and austerity and a new challenge to supposedly common values.

1.

Went the Day Well?

In the first programme, Simon Heffer celebrates the 1942 Ealing film, based on a short story by Graham Greene, depicting how a village invaded by Germans unites against them and defeats them.

Despite the bloodshed, what emerges is an almost Utopian vision of rural peace that suggests itself as a possible microcosm for a less class-bound future society.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer on the utopian vision of the 1942 Ealing film Went the Day Well?

ESSAY02A Canterbury Tale20100914

Powell and Pressburger's 1944 film, set in the beautiful Kentish landscape largely unchanged since Chaucer's day, tells the stories of three war-time "pilgrims", each of whom travel to Canterbury and experience some radical change in their own lives while also beginning to see a glimmer of a post-war Britain very different from the one they left behind in 1939.

Simon Heffer explores how, as the war drew to its close, the use of the English countryside in films became not just a powerful illustration of what Britain had been fighting to preserve, but also how, within that now safely preserved setting, attitudes, roles and mores could and would change.

ESSAY02A Canterbury Tale20100914

Powell and Pressburger's 1944 film, set in the beautiful Kentish landscape largely unchanged since Chaucer's day, tells the stories of three war-time "pilgrims", each of whom travel to Canterbury and experience some radical change in their own lives while also beginning to see a glimmer of a post-war Britain very different from the one they left behind in 1939.

Simon Heffer explores how, as the war drew to its close, the use of the English countryside in films became not just a powerful illustration of what Britain had been fighting to preserve, but also how, within that now safely preserved setting, attitudes, roles and mores could and would change.

ESSAY03The Small Back Room2010091520110908

British cinema of the 1940s freshly viewed by Simon Heffer who explores old favourites in terms of their social and political message.

In three personal interpretations, Simon Heffer traces the ways in which war time British cinema moved from galvanising the public to challenging the established class system and arguing for social cohesion, with its potential loss of individuality.

In the post-war period he looks at how film reflected a reaction among the public against state control and austerity, and a new challenge to supposedly common values.

2.

The Small Back Room

Simon Heffer explores how, now that hostilities were over, this 1949 Powell and Pressburger film about a bomb disposal expert seeking to defuse a cunning new German bomb, told a wartime story in very different ways from the films made during the war.

He considers its gritty new realism - alcoholism, depression, sex outside marriage, mindless bureaucracy - realities which could not be depicted during the war.

And he looks at how the mood of the film accurately refects both the struggle of its hero and the post-war world of austerity, rationing and the sometimes suffocating state control that its contemporary audience were living in and beginning to chafe against.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer on the view of World War II portrayed by the film The Small Back Room.

And he looks at how the mood of the film accurately reflects both the struggle of its hero and the post-war world of austerity, rationing and sometimes suffocating state control that its contemporary audience were living in and beginning to chafe against.

ESSAY03The Small Back Room2010091520110908

British cinema of the 1940s freshly viewed by Simon Heffer who explores old favourites in terms of their social and political message.

In three personal interpretations, Simon Heffer traces the ways in which war time British cinema moved from galvanising the public to challenging the established class system and arguing for social cohesion, with its potential loss of individuality.

In the post-war period he looks at how film reflected a reaction among the public against state control and austerity, and a new challenge to supposedly common values.

2.

The Small Back Room

Simon Heffer explores how, now that hostilities were over, this 1949 Powell and Pressburger film about a bomb disposal expert seeking to defuse a cunning new German bomb, told a wartime story in very different ways from the films made during the war.

He considers its gritty new realism - alcoholism, depression, sex outside marriage, mindless bureaucracy - realities which could not be depicted during the war.

And he looks at how the mood of the film accurately refects both the struggle of its hero and the post-war world of austerity, rationing and the sometimes suffocating state control that its contemporary audience were living in and beginning to chafe against.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer on the view of World War II portrayed by the film The Small Back Room.

And he looks at how the mood of the film accurately reflects both the struggle of its hero and the post-war world of austerity, rationing and sometimes suffocating state control that its contemporary audience were living in and beginning to chafe against.

ESSAY04Kind Hearts And Coronets20100916

Generally written up as the most sublime of the Ealing comedies and a brilliant vehicle for the astonishing versatility of Alec Guiness - both of which it is - Simon Heffer also considers Kind Hearts and Coronets to be one of the most subversive films ever made in the British cinema, with an innovative, destructive temper that make later anti-Establishment films such as If and A Clockwork Orange seem derivative by comparison.

This 1949 film about a man who murders member after member of his extended family in order to inherit a dukedom is dark not only because its subject is mass murder, but also because of its subtle attack on almost every aspect of British social order - the legal system, the class system, the Church, the City.

More unusually, Simon Heffer also considers it as a perfect assault - often disguised by its comedy - on the shallow and narrow lower middle-class values and proprieties that predominated in Britain in the immediate post-war period.

ESSAY04Kind Hearts And Coronets20100916

Generally written up as the most sublime of the Ealing comedies and a brilliant vehicle for the astonishing versatility of Alec Guiness - both of which it is - Simon Heffer also considers Kind Hearts and Coronets to be one of the most subversive films ever made in the British cinema, with an innovative, destructive temper that make later anti-Establishment films such as If and A Clockwork Orange seem derivative by comparison.

This 1949 film about a man who murders member after member of his extended family in order to inherit a dukedom is dark not only because its subject is mass murder, but also because of its subtle attack on almost every aspect of British social order - the legal system, the class system, the Church, the City.

More unusually, Simon Heffer also considers it as a perfect assault - often disguised by its comedy - on the shallow and narrow lower middle-class values and proprieties that predominated in Britain in the immediate post-war period.

ESSAY05 LASTThe Blue Lamp2010091720110909

British cinema of the 1940s freshly viewed by Simon Heffer who explores old favourites in terms of their social and political message.

In five personal interpretations, Simon Heffer traces the ways in which 1940s British cinema moved from galvanising the public to stand firm against the enemy during the war to reflecting a reaction against state control and a new challenge to supposedly common values in the post-war period.

5.

The Blue Lamp

Very far in its mood from apparently subversive and anti-establishment late 1940s Ealing comedies such as Whisky Galore and Passport to Pimlico, The Blue Lamp depicts a fractured post-war world which its original audience recoiled from when the film was first released.

At the heart of the story is the shooting dead in cold blood of a kindly policeman on the beat.

Simon Heffer examines how deeply this film differs from the depiction of a cohesive society of settled and agreed values that had been the staple of wartime cinema with its shared sense of an external enemy to be defeated.

He goes on to consider the real life changes in society which had led Ealing to depict this story in film: individuals no longer willing to accept orders as they had done in the war, their aspirations no longer containable within the bureacratic lines ordained by the state.

And, in conclusion, he considers how, having helped Britain win the war, the film industry was now beginning to reflect a fractured new society which just might be about to lose the peace.

Simon Heffer explores images of post-war society in the film The Blue Lamp.

ESSAY05 LASTThe Blue Lamp2010091720110909

British cinema of the 1940s freshly viewed by Simon Heffer who explores old favourites in terms of their social and political message.

In five personal interpretations, Simon Heffer traces the ways in which 1940s British cinema moved from galvanising the public to stand firm against the enemy during the war to reflecting a reaction against state control and a new challenge to supposedly common values in the post-war period.

5.

The Blue Lamp

Very far in its mood from apparently subversive and anti-establishment late 1940s Ealing comedies such as Whisky Galore and Passport to Pimlico, The Blue Lamp depicts a fractured post-war world which its original audience recoiled from when the film was first released.

At the heart of the story is the shooting dead in cold blood of a kindly policeman on the beat.

Simon Heffer examines how deeply this film differs from the depiction of a cohesive society of settled and agreed values that had been the staple of wartime cinema with its shared sense of an external enemy to be defeated.

He goes on to consider the real life changes in society which had led Ealing to depict this story in film: individuals no longer willing to accept orders as they had done in the war, their aspirations no longer containable within the bureacratic lines ordained by the state.

And, in conclusion, he considers how, having helped Britain win the war, the film industry was now beginning to reflect a fractured new society which just might be about to lose the peace.

Simon Heffer explores images of post-war society in the film The Blue Lamp.