This is a major new study of British Cinemaís formative years. Between 1918-1928 British film was poised between a Victorian past and a future marked out as American. Examining a cinema inextricably intertwined with notions of theatricality, pictorialism and literariness, in which the high cultural, middlebrow and popular intersect, this book re-evaluates the little known but interesting and often startling films of the 1920s.
Films such as the Blackpool melodrama Hindle Wakes, Guy Newellís Hardeyesque meditation Fox Farm, Graham Cuttsís exuberant adaptation The Rat (starring Ivor Novello as a Parisian apache!) Maurice Elveyís Comradeship, a haunting evocation of lives changed utterly after the First World War and Alfred Hitchcockís early works are all considered afresh within British cultural traditions and are related to a specifically British mode of perception distinct from the norms of European art or popular American cinema.
By challenging limited conceptions of British cinema the book shows how the oppositions of underplayed performances and theatricalised spaces; of private passion and public restraint, of pictorial composition and social document, made for a cinema both distinctive and conventional.
Through its recourse to adaptation and quotation and the exchange across media and social classes of different forms and representations, this cinema is revealed to be one that also had much to say about class, about the changing role of women and about a society in transition which had its own aesthetic practices with which to present its very varied set of stories.
Based on years of archival research Christine Gledhillís revisionist study extends our knowledge of this little known period of British film making. Through its re-evaluation of its relations to theatre, visual culture and literary tradition, this book will alter our sense of the origins and trajectory of British film in the twentieth century.