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Young and Innocent? The Cinema in Britain: 1896-1930 (2002) edited by Andrew Higson

editor Andrew Higson
publisher University of Exeter Press (2002)
ISBN 0859897176

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Silent cinema and the study of British cinema have seen some of the most exciting developments in Film Studies. This study brings then together in a comprehensive survey of one of the most important periods of film history. The book also includes guides to bibliographical and archival sources. Most of the acknowledged experts on this period are represented, joined by several new voices. Together they chart the development of cinema in Britain from its beginnings in the 1890s to the conversion to sound in the late 1920s and the emergence of an intellectual film culture in the 1920s. From these accounts the youthful British cinema emerges as far from innocent. On the contrary, it was a complex field of cultural and industrial practices. Topics covered include: the cinema of attractions in the early period; the emergence of the narrative film; and the series and serials of the 1910s and 1920s. The enormous range of actuality films, including early shorts, cinemagazines, interest films, travelogues and travel films is covered, as are the mainstream feature film of the late 1910s and 1920s. The study also examines the roles played by key producers, directors, scriptwriters and stars, ranging from Cecil Hepworth to Ivor Novello and from H.G. Wells to Alfred Hitchcock. Contributors consider the changing relationships between film and literature, theatre and visual culture and the ways in which audiences engaged with films and the patterns of exhibition and reception, as well as the contribution of live music to the film experience, and British cinema's relations with American cinema and the Empire market.


Section A — Putting the Pioneers in Context: Films and Filmmakers before the First World War

  • 'But the Khaki-Covered Camera is the Latest Thing': The Boer War Cinema and Visual Culture in Britain p. 13
  • James Williamson's Rescue Narratives p. 28
  • Cecil Hepworth, Alice in Wonderland and the Development of the Narrative Film p. 42
  • Putting the World before You: The Charles Urban Story p. 65
  • 'It would be a Mistake to Strive for Subtlety of Effect': Richard III and Populist, Pantomime Shakespeare in the 1910s p. 78

Section B — Going to the Cinema: Audiences, Exhibition and Reception from the 1890s to the 1910s

  • 'Indecent Incentives to Vice': Regulating Films and Audience Behaviour from the 1890s to the 1910s p. 97
  • 'Nothing More than a "Craze"': Cinema Building in Britain from 1909 to 1914 p. 111
  • Letters to America: A Case Study in the Exhibition and Reception of American Films in Britain, 1914-1918 p. 128

Section C — A Full Supporting Programme: Serials, Cinemagazines, Interest Films, Travelogues and Travel Films, and Film Music in the 1910s and 1920s

  • British Series and Serials in the Silent Era p. 147
  • The Spice of the Perfect Programme: The Weekly Magazine Film during the Silent Period p. 162
  • Shakespeare's Country: The National Poet, English Identity and British Silent Cinema p. 176
  • Representing 'African Life': From Ethnographic Exhibitions to Nionga and Stampede p. 191
  • Distant Trumpets: The Score to The Flag Lieutenant and Music of the British Silent Cinema p. 208

Section D — The Feature Film at Home and Abroad: Mainstream Cinema from the End of the First World War to the Coming of Sound

  • Writing Screen Plays: Stannard and Hitchcock p. 227
  • H.G. Wells and British Silent Cinema: The War of the Worlds p. 242
  • War-Torn Dionysus: The Silent Passion of Ivor Novello p. 256
  • Tackling the Big Boy of Empire: British Film in Australia, 1918-1931 p. 271

Section E — Taking the Cinema Seriously: The Emergence of an Intellectual Film Culture in the 1920s

  • The Film Society and the Creation of an Alternative Film Culture in Britain in the 1920s p. 291
  • Towards a Critical Practice: Ivor Montagu and British Film Culture in the 1920s p. 306
  • Writing the Cinema into Daily Life: Iris Barry and the Emergence of British Film Criticism in the 1920s p. 321

Section F — Bibliographical and Archival Resources

  • A Guide to Bibliographical and Archival Sources on British Cinema before the First World War p. 341
  • A Guide to Bibliographical and Archival Sources on British Cinema from the First World War to the Coming of Sound p. 356
  • Bibliography: British Cinema before 1930 p. 371