British War Films Of The 50s

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ESSAY01The Cruel Sea20120109

Uncomplaining Tommy Atkins, the Glamour Boys of 657 Squadron and merciless Nazi officers with razor-thin lips: it's easy to mock the British films about the Second World War which were made in the 1950s, but the historian and columnist Simon Heffer is passionate about them.

In 2011 Simon Heffer wrote and presented a series of Essays for BBC Radio 3 which celebrated some of the great British films made about the Second World War while it was still going on - films in which propaganda and morale-boosting played central roles.

In this new series, he turns to films which were made after the war was over, in the 1950s, when a new and more realistic approach to events became possible and questions about the difficult realities of peace were beginning to be asked. Where better to ask them than in the single most important artform of the time? As Simon Heffer says:

"From 1939 to 1945 they had all been in it together; now they were all in the Odeon together."

He starts with The Cruel Sea, based on a novel by Nicholas Monsarrat, which, far from romanticising or glamorising war, set out to depict the true price which had been paid for victory.

In subsequent programmes, Simon Heffer looks at The Colditz Story, The Dambusters, Carve Her Name with Pride and Dunkirk, celebrating these films not only in their own right but also for their depiction of the changing world of post-war Britain.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer on the film The Cruel Sea, about the price of victory in World War Two.

ESSAY01The Cruel Sea20120109

Uncomplaining Tommy Atkins, the Glamour Boys of 657 Squadron and merciless Nazi officers with razor-thin lips: it's easy to mock the British films about the Second World War which were made in the 1950s, but the historian and columnist Simon Heffer is passionate about them.

In 2011 Simon Heffer wrote and presented a series of Essays for BBC Radio 3 which celebrated some of the great British films made about the Second World War while it was still going on - films in which propaganda and morale-boosting played central roles.

In this new series, he turns to films which were made after the war was over, in the 1950s, when a new and more realistic approach to events became possible and questions about the difficult realities of peace were beginning to be asked. Where better to ask them than in the single most important artform of the time? As Simon Heffer says:

"From 1939 to 1945 they had all been in it together; now they were all in the Odeon together."

He starts with The Cruel Sea, based on a novel by Nicholas Monsarrat, which, far from romanticising or glamorising war, set out to depict the true price which had been paid for victory.

In subsequent programmes, Simon Heffer looks at The Colditz Story, The Dambusters, Carve Her Name with Pride and Dunkirk, celebrating these films not only in their own right but also for their depiction of the changing world of post-war Britain.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer on the film The Cruel Sea, about the price of victory in World War Two.

ESSAY02The Colditz Story20120110

Uncomplaining Tommy Atkins, the Glamour Boys of 657 Squadron and merciless Nazi officers with razor-thin lips: it's easy to mock the British films about the Second World War which were made in the 1950s, but the historian and columnist Simon Heffer is passionate about them.

In 2011 Simon Heffer wrote and presented a series of Essays for BBC Radio 3 which celebrated some of the great British films made about the Second World War while it was still going on - films in which propaganda and morale-boosting played central roles.

In this new series, he turns to films which were made after the war was over, in the 1950s, when a new and more realistic approach to events became possible and questions about the difficult realities of peace were beginning to be asked. Where better to ask them than in the single most important artform of the time? As Simon Heffer says:

"From 1939 to 1945 they had all been in it together; now they were all in the Odeon together."

In this second programme, he looks at the prisoner-of-war film, in particular, The Colditz Story. This film not only celebrated British resilience, courage and ingenuity in the face of apparently impossible odds but also, ten years after the war and at a time when Germany was fast rebuilding her old industrial strength, reminded cinema-goers of a time of undisputed British superiority.

In subsequent programmes, Simon Heffer looks at The Dambusters, Carve Her Name with Pride and Dunkirk, celebrating these films not only in their own right but also for their depiction of the changing world of post-war Britain.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer discusses the film The Colditz Story, which celebrated British resilience.

ESSAY02The Colditz Story20120110

Uncomplaining Tommy Atkins, the Glamour Boys of 657 Squadron and merciless Nazi officers with razor-thin lips: it's easy to mock the British films about the Second World War which were made in the 1950s, but the historian and columnist Simon Heffer is passionate about them.

In 2011 Simon Heffer wrote and presented a series of Essays for BBC Radio 3 which celebrated some of the great British films made about the Second World War while it was still going on - films in which propaganda and morale-boosting played central roles.

In this new series, he turns to films which were made after the war was over, in the 1950s, when a new and more realistic approach to events became possible and questions about the difficult realities of peace were beginning to be asked. Where better to ask them than in the single most important artform of the time? As Simon Heffer says:

"From 1939 to 1945 they had all been in it together; now they were all in the Odeon together."

In this second programme, he looks at the prisoner-of-war film, in particular, The Colditz Story. This film not only celebrated British resilience, courage and ingenuity in the face of apparently impossible odds but also, ten years after the war and at a time when Germany was fast rebuilding her old industrial strength, reminded cinema-goers of a time of undisputed British superiority.

In subsequent programmes, Simon Heffer looks at The Dambusters, Carve Her Name with Pride and Dunkirk, celebrating these films not only in their own right but also for their depiction of the changing world of post-war Britain.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer discusses the film The Colditz Story, which celebrated British resilience.

ESSAY03The Dam Busters20120111

Boys' Own pilots with cut-glass accents and no sense of personal fear: it's easy to mock the British films about the Second World War which were made in the 1950s and to suggest that all they are good for these days is selling Scandinavian lager, but Simon Heffer is passionate about them.

In 2011 Simon Heffer wrote and presented a series of Essays for BBC Radio 3 which celebrated some of the great British films made about the Second World War while it was still going on - films in which propaganda and morale-boosting played central roles.

In this new series, he turns to films which were made after the war was over, in the 1950s, when a new and more realistic approach to events became possible and questions about the difficult realities of peace were beginning to be asked. Where better to ask them than in the single most important artform of the time? As Simon Heffer says:

"From 1939 to 1945 they had all been in it together; now they were all in the Odeon together."

In the third programme he looks at the depiction of British heroism in The Dambusters - perhaps the British war film to end all British war films - contrasting this with its American counterpart.

"At a time when a sense of national inferiority was setting in compared with the Americans, such understated machismo helped us feel good about ourselves."

In subsequent programmes, Simon Heffer looks at Carve Her Name with Pride and Dunkirk, celebrating these films not only in their own right but also for their depiction of the changing world of post-war Britain.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer discusses the depiction of British heroism in the film The Dam Busters.

ESSAY03The Dam Busters20120111

Boys' Own pilots with cut-glass accents and no sense of personal fear: it's easy to mock the British films about the Second World War which were made in the 1950s and to suggest that all they are good for these days is selling Scandinavian lager, but Simon Heffer is passionate about them.

In 2011 Simon Heffer wrote and presented a series of Essays for BBC Radio 3 which celebrated some of the great British films made about the Second World War while it was still going on - films in which propaganda and morale-boosting played central roles.

In this new series, he turns to films which were made after the war was over, in the 1950s, when a new and more realistic approach to events became possible and questions about the difficult realities of peace were beginning to be asked. Where better to ask them than in the single most important artform of the time? As Simon Heffer says:

"From 1939 to 1945 they had all been in it together; now they were all in the Odeon together."

In the third programme he looks at the depiction of British heroism in The Dambusters - perhaps the British war film to end all British war films - contrasting this with its American counterpart.

"At a time when a sense of national inferiority was setting in compared with the Americans, such understated machismo helped us feel good about ourselves."

In subsequent programmes, Simon Heffer looks at Carve Her Name with Pride and Dunkirk, celebrating these films not only in their own right but also for their depiction of the changing world of post-war Britain.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer discusses the depiction of British heroism in the film The Dam Busters.

ESSAY04Carve Her Name With Pride20120112

Simon Heffer is passionate about the British Second World War films which were made after the war was over. While it is easy to mock some of these films for their cliche-ridden characters - thin-lipped Nazi officers, cheerful British Tommies and understated heroic officers - Carve Her Name with Pride is an exception.

Amongst the most sober and shocking of films from this era, Carve Her Name with Pride is also one of the few films in this genre which has a female lead.

Virginia McKenna stars at Violette Szabo, an ordinary south London shop girl who became a member of the Special Operations Executive, parachuted into Occupied France where she aided the Resistance until her luck ran out and she was captured, tortured and killed by the Germans.

Simon Heffer discusses the adaptation of this real-life story and looks at how it was depicted on screen, from basic training through courage and torture to the tear-jerking closing scenes.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Writer Simon Heffer celebrates the 1958 film Carve Her Name with Pride.

ESSAY04Carve Her Name With Pride20120112

Simon Heffer is passionate about the British Second World War films which were made after the war was over. While it is easy to mock some of these films for their cliche-ridden characters - thin-lipped Nazi officers, cheerful British Tommies and understated heroic officers - Carve Her Name with Pride is an exception.

Amongst the most sober and shocking of films from this era, Carve Her Name with Pride is also one of the few films in this genre which has a female lead.

Virginia McKenna stars at Violette Szabo, an ordinary south London shop girl who became a member of the Special Operations Executive, parachuted into Occupied France where she aided the Resistance until her luck ran out and she was captured, tortured and killed by the Germans.

Simon Heffer discusses the adaptation of this real-life story and looks at how it was depicted on screen, from basic training through courage and torture to the tear-jerking closing scenes.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Writer Simon Heffer celebrates the 1958 film Carve Her Name with Pride.

ESSAY05 LASTDunkirk20120113

Plucky British Tommies, uncomplaining civilians with stiff upper lips and a determination to "make do and mend", heroic officers with cut-glass accents, not to mention merciless Nazi officers with razor-thin lips: it's easy to mock the British films about the Second World War which were made in the 1950s, but Simon Heffer is passionate about them and believes they deserve to be taken seriously even today.

In 2011 Simon Heffer wrote and presented a series of Essays for BBC Radio 3 which celebrated some of the great British films made about the Second World War while it was still going on - films in which propaganda and morale-boosting played central roles.

In this new series, he turns to films which were made after the war was over, in the 1950s, when a new and more realistic approach to events became possible and questions about the difficult realities of peace were beginning to be asked. Where better to ask them than in the single most important artform of the time? As Simon Heffer says:

"From 1939 to 1945 they had all been in it together; now they were all in the Odeon together."

In this fifth and final programme, Simon Heffer considers one of the last and best-loved films of this era - Dunkirk - which was made in 1958 when the novelty and charm of the genre had almost worn off.

Dunkirk is always seen as the defeat which contained the seeds of victory. Simon Heffer explores the film both as celebration of a moment when the courage and determination of the armed forces and civilians were splendidly proved and also as a dark foreshadowing of post-war disappointments.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer on one of the last and best-loved films of the post WWII era: Dunkirk.

ESSAY05 LASTDunkirk20120113

Plucky British Tommies, uncomplaining civilians with stiff upper lips and a determination to "make do and mend", heroic officers with cut-glass accents, not to mention merciless Nazi officers with razor-thin lips: it's easy to mock the British films about the Second World War which were made in the 1950s, but Simon Heffer is passionate about them and believes they deserve to be taken seriously even today.

In 2011 Simon Heffer wrote and presented a series of Essays for BBC Radio 3 which celebrated some of the great British films made about the Second World War while it was still going on - films in which propaganda and morale-boosting played central roles.

In this new series, he turns to films which were made after the war was over, in the 1950s, when a new and more realistic approach to events became possible and questions about the difficult realities of peace were beginning to be asked. Where better to ask them than in the single most important artform of the time? As Simon Heffer says:

"From 1939 to 1945 they had all been in it together; now they were all in the Odeon together."

In this fifth and final programme, Simon Heffer considers one of the last and best-loved films of this era - Dunkirk - which was made in 1958 when the novelty and charm of the genre had almost worn off.

Dunkirk is always seen as the defeat which contained the seeds of victory. Simon Heffer explores the film both as celebration of a moment when the courage and determination of the armed forces and civilians were splendidly proved and also as a dark foreshadowing of post-war disappointments.

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Simon Heffer on one of the last and best-loved films of the post WWII era: Dunkirk.