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English Films


Figure 1.--Perhaps the most English of all films about boys are the "Just William" movies. He was played here by Oliver Rokison. Notice the cap and falling down kneesocks.

England had an important film industry before being eclipsed by Hollywood. English films are generally better known to Americans than most other foreign films, primarily of course because they were made in English. Clothing styles, especially Eton Collars, at the turn of the 20th century are shown in How Green is My Valley (1941), even though it is about Wales. Clothes during the 1930s are depicted in Lassie Come Home. English school boy clothes during the early 1940s can be seen in Hope and Glory (1985?). The short pants suits worn even in secondary schools during the 1960s can be seen in Kiperbang (1980?). HBC believes that English films were more carefully costumed, at least the children, than on the Continent. Ths is, however, only an initial assessmemt. The English have also produce some wonderful chilod actors, many of whom moved to America to make films in Hollywood. Thus some important films about England were made in America.

English Film Industry

England was active in the early motion picture industry, although French and American figures are better known. English inventors and film makers were active from the very beginning. The growth of the industry was interupted by World war I. And after the War the nascent film indistry was devestated by foreign competition, especially Hollywood. Some work was dine on color film. Legislation requirting theaters to show British made films and the advebt of the talkies revitalized British film making. Many important films were made in the 1930s and some studios even competed with Hillywood in the U.S. market. What you do not see in the 1930s was any hint of criticism of the NAZIs. British film makets like the Government were committed to appeasing Hitler and the NAZIs. We are not sure to what extent this was a marketing decesion to main access to the German market or a policy influenced by the Government. British film makers onve the fight was joined, did play an important role in World war II struggle against the Axis. Many wonderful films were made after the War. ealing studios was especially productive. British film makers, however, continued to have trouble competing with Hollywood.

Individual Films

English films are generally better known to Americans than most other foreign films, primarily of course because they were made in English. There are quite a number of wonderful English films, both calssics and modern productions. Some of the English films are especially interesting to HBC , especially those shots before the 1970s, because there is an elemental of realism in the street sceens, rather than costumed productions. A good example here is "The Magnet".

Costuming

Clothing styles, especially Eton Collars, at the turn of the 20th century are shown in How Green is My Valley (1941), even though it is about Wales. Clothes during the 1930s are depicted in Lassie Come Home. English school boy clothes during the early 1940s can be seen in Hope and Glory (1985?). The short pants suits worn even in secondary schools during the 1960s can be seen in Kiperbang (1980?). HBC believes that English films were more carefully costumed, at least the children, than on the Continent. This is, however, only an initial assessmemt.

Child Actors

The English have also produce some wonderful child actors, many of whom moved to America to make films in Hollywood. Thus some important films about England were made in America.

Children's Film Foundation

The "Children's Film Foundation" was established by Lord Rank of the Rank Organisation in 1951 to make films for children to be screened at Saturday morning matinees. At the time, movie attendance was being affected by television. The idea was to build up cinema audiences of the future. It launched many careers of future stars including Jean Simmons. It closed in 1981 and was later renamed the Children's Film and Television Foundation in 1987 to exist of royalties of its back catalogue. From what I remember the children who starred in the films wore contemporary clothing. The films are now regarded as classics. In its day it made exciting films on a variety of topics.

Cinema Going

One of our British readers has provided his thoughts on Cinema going. There are differences to the way the British watch films. In Britain during the 1950s we had Saturday afternoon cinema. This was for children. This programme contained a main film and cartonns and a serial. This was a wild time for kids would shout and cheer the hero boo the villian. The adult cinema was a much more quiet. You went with an adult. Mum, Dad, or a family friend and had an enjoyable time. There was candy and ice cream at half time. At its end you stood still while the National Anthum was played and left silently. In the States movie going is a lot more noisier even when adults are present. The movie is treated more like the Brits behave when they are at a live theatre. There is much clapping, cheering and at the end of an enjoyable film a standing ovation. At one cinema show I attended the programme started with a charity appeal for a Wil Rodgers Charity and the cinema staff entered the show with collection boxes! Of course in comedy films there is much laughter from the audience in either country. Unfortunately my sense of humour is not that of the American audience and while viewing an Australian comedy film I was the lone laugher seeing the sense of fun. The American audience got the humour but it didn't make them laugh out loud! May I continue to have such enjoyment watching films at the Mall in America or at the Odeon in Britain." --Bill






HBC





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Created: October 19, 2000
Last updated: 5:00 PM 8/16/2012