January 24, 2017

Old Mother Riley: The Life and Career of Arthur Lucan

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One of the most neatly kept and most visited graves in Kingston-upon-Hull's Eastern Cemetery is that of Arthur Lucan, better known as the Irish washerwoman Old Mother Riley. Today, more than fifty years after his death in the wings of the city's Tivoli Theatre on 17th May 1954, people still regularly go to pay their respects and lay flowers. Whilst the grave is not forgotten, the career and films of one of the most popular British entertainers are sadly neglected. Arthur Lucan, was born … [Read more...]

Local Heroes

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Has the recent stream of films set against the backdrop of the industrial north given us a new movement to rival the legacy of the British New Wave? There’s something rather familiar about the opening scenes from Brassed Off. A montage of images of miners hard at work, finishing their shift and setting off for home at the end of the day, walking back home towards streets of terrace housing set amongst an industrial northern landscape. The similarities with Saturday Night and Sunday Morning … [Read more...]

Pitkin: The Life and Films of Norman Wisdom

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Norman Wisdom was born in February 1915 into a family that fell apart when he was nine. His father was violent and abusive and when his mother left in 1924, Norman and his brother were left in charge of the family but after being thrown out of their home, were placed into care. His father remarried but Norman was never accepted back into his life and at the age of thirteen, Norman and a friend walked from London to Cardiff to get a job down the mines. From then until joining the army a year … [Read more...]

Ken Loach: Another World is Possible

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"We'd like to encourage as many young people as possible to break the law and try and see this film." Paul Laverty, Ken Loach's long-term collaborator, ex-human rights' lawyer and Cannes award-winning screenwriter is talking about the 18 certificate their new film, Sweet Sixteen, has received. Loach, Laverty and Martin Compston, their lead actor, are in Leeds to launch the largest regional film festival in its 16th year. "We're really furious, we think its censorship. You know you can blow … [Read more...]

The Rest Is Just Propaganda: The Influence of Karel Reisz on the British New Wave

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Karel Reisz left a lasting legacy for British cinema through his work with the Free Cinema movement and his contribution to the British New Wave. And with Saturday Night and Sunday Morning he gave us the original working class angry young man. Karel Reisz arrived in England aged just 11 in 1938, a refugee from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. He first made an impact on the British film scene as a film critic in the late 1940s, contributing to Sequence and Sight & Sound, before going on to become … [Read more...]

Carry On Sitcom – The British Sitcom Spin-off Film 1968-80

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When Ealing comedy, the cinematic brand that uniquely embodied 20 years of idiosyncratically "charming" English humour, ran out of steam (surely the best way to describe it) in the late 50s, the British film industry’s grasp on the kind of popular comedy that could work at an international level became alarmingly loose. Ealing’s unlikely successor, the Carry On series, unashamedly focused its aims much lower, and embraced the kind of cheerfully parochial vulgarity that had for years tickled … [Read more...]

The Archers Quartet

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Few film historians would, I think, argue against the proposition that on any terms the history of the British cinema has been a chequered one. The advent of sound, symbolised by its introduction in Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail (1929) heralded a decade which saw hundreds of British films being made on the back of the dreaded 'quota quickie' system. In his invaluable book British Sound Films The Studio Years 1928 - 1959 David Quinlan amusingly refers to one Manchester cinema in 1935 flashing a … [Read more...]