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British films of the 1970s

British films of the 1970s

Paul Newland
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 256
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    British films of the 1970s
    Book Description:

    British Films of the 1970s offers highly detailed and insightful critical analysis of a range of individual films of the period. This analysis draws upon an innovative range of critical methodologies which place the film texts within a rich variety of historical contexts.British films of the 1970s offers highly detailed and insightful critical analysis of a range of individual films of the period. This analysis draws upon an innovative range of critical methodologies which place the film texts within a rich variety of historical contexts. The book sets out to examine British films of the 1970s in order to get a clearer understanding of two things – the fragmentary state of the filmmaking culture of the period, and the fragmentary nature of the nation that these films represent. It argues that there is no singular narrative to be drawn about British filmmaking in the 1970s, other than the fact that these films offer evidence of a Britain (and ideas of Britishness) characterised by vicissitudes. While this was a period of struggle and instability, it was also a period of openings, of experiment, and of new ideas. Newland looks at many films, including Carry On Girls, O Lucky Man!, That'll be the Day, The Shout, and The Long Good Friday.

    eISBN: 978-1-5261-0229-4
    Subjects: Film Studies, Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements (pp. vi-viii)
    Paul Newland
  4. Introduction (pp. 1-26)

    A long-forgotten film,Nobody Ordered Love(Robert Hartford-Davis, 1971), tells the story of the trials and tribulations of individuals attempting to put together a British film during the early 1970s. The narrative follows a hustling opportunist, Peter Triman (Tony Selby), and a director, Peter Medbury (John Ronane), through their struggles to make an epic First World War film entitledThe Somme. The production process is fraught with problems. Initially, the shoot is disrupted by the behaviour of the star, the former sex symbol Alice Allison (Ingrid Pitt).¹ Medbury decides that he wants the part to be recast, but his financial...

  5. 1 Equality or bust: sexual politics (pp. 27-55)

    Eskimo Nell(Martin Campbell, 1974) is a ribald British sex comedy. But it is also a film about film-making in 1970s Britain. Michael Armstrong (who wrote the script and had written and directed the 1969 Tigon horror filmThe Haunted House of Horror, akaHorror House) plays a young director, Dennis, just out of film school. We see him descend the grand steps of a neo-classical building which houses the Film Academy. This is a fictional establishment which nevertheless speaks of real developments taking place in the industry. During the early part of the decade it was possible to train...

  6. 2 On the road: British journeys (pp. 56-84)

    InNo Sex PleaseWe’re British(Cliff Owen, 1973), a suburban bank clerk, Brian Runnicles (Ronnie Corbett), accidently receives a delivery of pornographic material meant for a sex shop. He fails to get rid of the films, and, after a number of farcical attempts, they end up in the hands of his boss, the anti-pornography campaigner, Mr Bromley (Arthur Lowe), who inadvertently screens them to a gathered audience of ornithologists. Films such asNo Sex PleaseWe’re British– adapted from the successful stage comedy of the same name by Alistair Foot and Anthony Marriott – clearly evidence the socio-cultural tensions of...

  7. 3 The songs remain the same: pop, rock and war children (pp. 85-105)

    The Second World War continued to cast a long shadow across British culture during the 1970s.¹ As we have seen, the hit television comedy seriesDad’s Army(BBC, 1968–77) centres on the experiences of a group of men in a Home Guard unit. A film version was made in 1971 (directed by Norman Cohen), which also remembers the war years fondly as a period of cohesive communities, strong national identity, and a proud British spirit. Jeffrey Richards notices that ‘There is nostalgia, embodied in the use in the television series of popular songs of the period to link the...

  8. 4 Immigrant songs: racial politics (pp. 106-134)

    A camera mounted on a helicopter flying over mountainous terrain picks out a lone figure running away into the distance. The soundtrack features funky music – all wah-wah guitar pedals, rapid-fire hi-hats, and stabbing brass. The film cuts to shots of the helicopter pilot wearing sunglasses, scanning the terrain below. We see more hunters in a white Land Rover, chasing the man on the ground. It becomes clear that this man is black, and that he is being chased by white men. He runs into dark woods. Here he is captured on surveillance cameras. His grainy image is viewed on a...

  9. 5 In memoriam: the past in the present/the present in the past (pp. 135-150)

    The year is 1872. In London’s Hyde Park, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) battles violently with Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) on a speeding horse-drawn carriage. The carriage crashes, and Dracula is impaled on a wooden spoke from one of the smashed wheels. The film then suddenly shifts to the contemporary London of 1972 by means of a 100-year jump cut. We see a jet plane leaving a vapour trail high in the sky over the modern city. Traffic jams are polluting the grey city air. Seedy sex shops line the drab streets.Dracula A.D. 1972(Alan Gibson, 1972) offers us a...

  10. 6 Rural rides: the countryside and modernity (pp. 151-170)

    Ronald Blythe’s novelAkenfield: Portrait of an English villagewas published in 1969, and became a best-seller. The theatre director, Peter Hall (the artistic director of the National Theatre, on London’s South Bank, between 1973 and 1988), decided to film an adaptation.¹ For Hall, this was clearly a story for film rather than theatre. As he told Alexander Walker in an interview on 18 July 1974, ‘We were doing something only cinema could do, for the camera had to be there and “at the ready” to catch “life” when it was invented.’² London Weekend Television (LWT) put up £60,000 for...

  11. 7 Close to the edge: peripheral Britain (pp. 171-194)

    The opening credits sequence of the horror filmKiller’s Moon(Alan Birkinshaw, 1978)¹ features a coach driving through the present-day Lake District, an exemplar of a rugged rural English landscape. On the coach are a group of schoolgirls singing ‘Greensleeves’, accompanied by their two female teachers. They are clearly on a school trip. The coach breaks down, and the party is forced to seek shelter in a remote, ramshackle old hotel. But it turns out that they are in danger. Four escaped psychiatric patients are roaming the countryside. These men have been dosed with LSD as part of their treatment,...

  12. 8 Old cities, new towns: criminality and cruelty (pp. 195-217)

    Frenzy(Alfred Hitchcock, 1972) begins with an impressive aerial shot of early 1970s London. Mounted on a helicopter, the camera travels westwards up the River Thames and underneath Tower Bridge, as if through a mysterious gateway and into the criminal city itself. This is the spot where, a few years later, Bob Hoskins, as the East End gangster, Harold Shand, will give an impromptu speech about ‘ profitable progress’ in the filmThe Long Good Friday(John Mackenzie, 1979), celebrating British links with the American mafia. At the beginning ofFrenzy, the camera moves on along the Thames and eventually...

  13. Conclusion (pp. 218-224)

    This book set out to examine a range of British films of the 1970s, to try to obtain a clearer understanding of two things – the fragmented state of the film-making culture of the period, and the fragmented nature of the nation that these films represent. What has become clear is that this is not a period of film-making that offers itself up for easy and clear conclusions. So I will not attempt to offer a definitive conclusion here. Rather, I want to reflect briefly on some of the themes that have emerged in this book, and the ways in which...

  14. Bibliography (pp. 225-250)
  15. Index (pp. 251-263)