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British Kinematography (1947) - Book Reviews





TWENTY YEARS OF BRITISH FILM, by Michael Balcon, Ernest Lindgren, Forsyth Hardy, and Roger Manvell. The Falcon Press. Price 10s. 6d.

Here are the beginnings of what might have been a very significant volume on the subject of British Film. Unfortunately, in its literary content, it goes so far and no farther. It divides itself sharply into four compartments. By way of introduction, Michael Balcon sounds a wise and timely warning for the future of the British quality film.

Ernest Lindgren writes on the early feature film, and is responsible for an extremely interesting analytical exercise concerning the early Quota period. He mentions quickly seventy-two film titles, all outstanding in their time and all well remembered. Twenty-six of these are associated with Michael Balcon and twelve with Sir Alexander Korda. Directorial credits constantly recurring are Hitchcock, Asquith, Forde, Saville and Wilcox. Is it that the period is now sufficiently in retrospect for the sterling service rendered British Films by this small group of producers and directors to be at last fully recognised and acknowledged?

Forsyth Hardy's chapter on the British documentary film traces quickly the beginning, growth and acceptance of this significant aspect of production without which the British Film would be incomplete.

Lastly, Roger Manvell, whose literary efforts on behalf of the industry are becoming prodigous, summarises the situation during the war years and brings the reader up to date ; at the same time adding another word of warning for the future.

The whole is more than adequately seasoned by a remarkable series of stills covering production from "Blackmail" (1929) to "Painted Boats" (1945), incidentally proving that out of the welter of inferior product between 1929 and 1939 the British quality film emerged and commands nostalgic remembrance.

A volume to recommend as a spring board for students of the British kinema, as well as to authors and lecturers whose memories require a quick and easy prompt. Nevertheless, there remains the regret that the literary content of this well produced book was not more fully developed.

John Croydon.