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British cinema of the 1950s: a celebration. Edited by Ian MacKillop and Neil Sinyard

It's a strange paradox that while British films were never more popular than they were in the 50s, no period has been more reviled by critics and academics. This book of essays tries to redress the balance. Of course, the book does this by largely ignoring the great successes of the 50s (comedies) and instead concentrates on such critical favourites as the kitchen-sink dramas and early Joseph Losey.

With the exception of that one fault, this book does a good job of poking around in places other film histories don't go near. Perhaps the most valuable essay in this regard is Brian McFarlane's look at Tempean films: Bob Baker and Monty Berman's low-budget production company. Though few of their films were special, their B-movie company is typical of the sort of bread-and-butter business that gets overlooked.

Other essays worth noting are Charles Barr's on White Corridors and Melanie Williams on Woman in a Dressing Gown which she presents as a proto-feminist tract.

There's a lot here to make you seek out some 50s films and give them another go. Though this is hardly a major revisionist view of the period, it's a start.


British cinema of the 1950s

Pub: Manchester University Press

ISBN: 0 7190 6489 9

Price: 14.95 (Paperback. Hardback also available)

British Cinema in the 1950s: a celebration. Available at Amazon