Remember Me
Or use your Academic/Social account:


Or use your Academic/Social account:


You have just completed your registration at OpenAire.

Before you can login to the site, you will need to activate your account. An e-mail will be sent to you with the proper instructions.


Please note that this site is currently undergoing Beta testing.
Any new content you create is not guaranteed to be present to the final version of the site upon release.

Thank you for your patience,
OpenAire Dev Team.

Close This Message


Verify Password:
Verify E-mail:
*All Fields Are Required.
Please Verify You Are Human:
fbtwitterlinkedinvimeoflicker grey 14rssslideshare1
O'Neil, Esther, Margaret
Languages: English
Types: Doctoral thesis
Subjects: V210
Major differences in British Second World War films produced in wartime 1939-45 (idealising the 'People's War') and post-war versions produced between 1945-65 (promoting the return of elite masculinity) suggest a degree of cultural re-conditioning concerning the memory of war, by Britain's middle-class film-makers attuned to national and international concerns. Therefore, the focus and main aim of this thesis is to identify and examine previously ignored or inadequately scrutinized themes within the post-war genre to explain how, and why, film-makers redefined the Second World War and its myths, tapping deeply into the national psyche, stimulating and satisfying a voracious, continuing, British appetite. In examining the genre, and as established by historians such as John O'Connor, Pierre Sorlin and Jeffrey Richards, this thesis employs contextual analysis, using feature film as a primary historical documentary source. This involves close reading of the films in their historical and political context and the social situation which produced them - backed-up by empirical data, analysing what film-makers were saying at textual and sub-textual levels, and exploring structure, meaning and iconography as conveyed by script, image, acting and direction. The production, content and reception of these films have been evaluated and attention directed towards dialogue and language. In support of this, a wide variety of sources have been scrutinized: articles; fan magazines; novels; biographies; autobiographies; memoirs, film histories and wider historical and political works. The BFI Library and Special Collections Archive have been extensively mined with particular emphasis on press and campaign books and cinema ephemera. Newspapers and journals such as the Times, the New Statesman, the Daily Mirror and the Daily Worker have provided a range of perspectives.\ud A sense of British ownership of this war pervades the genre. Accordingly, this thesis identifies four over-arching themes through which to explore it: the fusion of class, masculinity and national identity; women and femininity; reconciliation with the enemy; and the process of personal and national redemption and regeneration through the war experience. The study's fundamental originality rests in its approach. In offering a "political" (in its widest sense) reading of the films and an untried level of detailed analysis, it presents the genre's first full conceptualisation, challenging criticisms and assumptions that the genre was either a nostalgic replay of the Second World War, a recruitment vehicle or a catharsis. Several key findings have emerged from this thesis: Elite masculinity was used, not to devalue the 'People's War', but as exemplar of national identity, regeneration and British leadership. Recognizable through his metamorphosis from literature's well-loved pre-1914 imperialist hero, the officer hero was now a democratised master of the technology provided by Britain's brilliant, unthreatening scientists. Through them, Britain's unrivalled experience as a world leader was promoted at a time of international tensions and challenges to national supremacy. This study offers the first in-depth analysis of the prisoner-of-war sub-genre, and recognizes film-makers' efforts to ensure that serving homosexuals were also credited with fighting the Second World War. Crucially, far from being airbrushed from the genre, women were very definitely present and active in war films post-1945. Previously unsuspected balances, continuities and cross-overs between the 193945 films and of those of 1945-65 have been identified. Received wisdom that, with Cold War political pragmatism, the genie offered only revisionist depictions of Germany is also challenged. Evidence of film-makers' Janus-faced ambivalence towards German brutality and collective guilt has emerged and, whilst the Italians were redeemed, Japanese barbarism was vehemently expressed. Through its exploration of war's dysfunctional residue, this thesis has shown that combat dysfunction acted as 'heroic reinforcement', yet another way to praise, whilst allowing modest fallibility. Further insights into reactions to war were provided by depictions of malingers, revellers and those redeemed by war.\ud British cinema offered a rare level of social comment with the homecoming legacy, as dysfunction embraced disaffected officers, crime and the failure of the 'New Jerusalem'— although it offered little on failed repatriation. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, film-makers also showed that middle-class hegemony, always pragmatic, was elastic enough to offer critiques of officer elite heroics with the decline of deference, and to be more open in its depictions of women. These findings demonstrate that as a collection of primary documents, the genre's films reveal much about contemporaneous issues. Significantly, although its target audience was British youth, it reached global audiences.
  • The results below are discovered through our pilot algorithms. Let us know how we are doing!

    • Gillett, John, 'Battle of the River Plate, The', Sight and Sound, Vol. 26, No. 3, Winter 1956/7, p 152.
    • 'Private's Progress', Sight and Sound, New Quarterly Series, No. 4, Spring 1956, pp 198- 'Conspiracy of Hearts', and 'Sink the Bismarck', Sight and Sound, Vol. 19, No. 2, Spring 1960, p 91.
    • Houston, Penelope, 'Orders to Kill', Sight and Sound, Vol.27, No.5, Summer 1958, p 248.
    • Whitebait, William, 'Above Us the Waves', New Statesman, 16 April, 1955, p 534.
    • 'A Different Hero [Douglas Bader]', ibid, 14 July, 1956, p 42.
    • 'Appointment in London', ibid, 21 February, 1953, p 206.
    • - 'A Queen is Crowned' and 'Elizabeth is Queen', ibid, 13 June, 1953, p 703.
    • 'Battle Cry', ibid, 18 June, 1955, p 842.
    • 'Children of Hiroshima', ibid, 2 April, 1955, p 471.
    • 'Cockleshell Heroes', ibid, 26 November, 1955 p 705.
    • 'Colditz', ibid, 5 February, 1955, p 177-178.
    • 'Conflict of Wings', ibid, 10 April, 1954, p 469.
    • 'Conquest of Everest, The', ibid, 31 October, 1953, p 521.
    • 'Cruel Sea, The', ibid, 4 April, 1953, p 397.
    • Dam Busters, The', ibid, 21 May, 1955, p 719.
    • 'D-bay the 6th June', ibid, 9 September, 1956, p 241.
    • 'Deep Blue Sea, The', ibid, 3 September, 1955, p 270.
    • 'Divided Heart, The', ibid, 20 November, 1954, p 645.
    • 'Dunkirk', ibid, 5 April, 1958, p 432.
    • 'End of the Affair, The', ibid, 5 March, 1955, p 323.
    • 'Final Test, The', ibid, 18 April, 1953, p 456.
    • 'Free Cinema', ibid, II February, 1956,p 152.
    • 'I Was Monty's Double' ibid, 5 April, 1958, p 432.
    • 'Malta Story, The', ibid, 4 July, 1953, p 17.
    • 'Operation Mincemeat', ibid, 17 March, 1956, p 24243.
    • 'Orders to Kill', ibid, 5 April, 1958, p 432.
    • 'Queen in Australia, The' and 'Welcome the Queen', ibid, 29 May, 1954, p 699-700.
    • 'Reach for the Sky', ibid, 14 July, 1956, p 42.
    • 'Wooden Horse, The', Variety, 2 August 1950.
    • 'Wooden Horse, The', Monthly Film Bulletin, Vol. 17, No.200,8 September, 1950, pp 138.
    • Ministry of Information, Combined Operations, 1940-42 (MO!, London, 1943).
    • US Government and Military, Over There : Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain. 1942 (Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, (1942) 1994 edition used).
    • Marwick, Arthur & Simpson, Wendy, War, Peace & Social Change: Europe 1900-1955: Documents 2: 1925-1959 (Open University Press, Buckingham, 1990).
    • Richards, Jeffrey & Sheriden, Dorothy, Mass Observation at the Movies: Cinema and Society (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1987).
    • Sheridan, Dorothy, Wartime Women : A Mass Observation Anthology (Phoenix, London, (1990) 2000 edition used).
    • Bloer, Damen, 'The Wooden Horse', Picture Goer, 14 October, 1950.
    • Borck, Werner, 'War Films Come Back in a New Guise', Evening News, 7 March, 1958, pp 5-7.
    • Browning, H. E., & Sorrel!, A.A., 'Cinemas and Cinema-going in Great Britain', Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A (General), Part II, 1954, pp 133-165.
    • Cassandra, 'Dunicirk', Daily Mirror, 8 May, 1957, p4.
    • Conard, Derek, 'Stanley Baker', Films and Filming, Issue 2, November 1957, p5.
    • Diplomatic Correspondent, 'Nazis Concealed Deaths of 47 Prisoners', Daily Telegraph, 20 May, 1944, front page.
    • Elvin, George H., 'This Freedom : An Enquiry into Film Censorship', The Cine-Technician, Vol. 4, No. 19, January-February, 1939, pp 141-147.
    • Gillet, John, 'Westlife', Sight and Sound, Vol. 27, No.3, Winter 1957/58, pp 123-127.
    • Gray, Andrew, 'Mai Zetterling: The Smile from Sweden', Picturegoer, Vol. 16, No. 676, 18 January, 1947, pp 10-I1.
    • Holt, Paul, 'We mustn't be seen in triumph', Daily Herald, 16, December, 1952, p2.
    • Houston, Penelope, 'Time of Crisis', Sight and Sound, July, 1955, pp 167-175.
    • Jacobson, Sidney, 'The Problem of the Demobbed Officer', Picture Post, 26 June, 1946, pp 26-27.
    • Johnson, J., 'John Mills', Films and Filming, Issue 9, Vol. 8, June, 1962, pp 22-23, 49-50.
    • Koval, Francis, 'The Studio : Sir Michael Balcon & Ealing', Sight and Sound, Special Edition, 1951, pp 9-42.
    • Prince, Rod, 'A Great Little Country', 1515,7 May, 1958, pp 26-27, Never Despair; Winston S Churchill, 1945-1965 (Minerva, London, (1988) 1990 edition Guinness, Alec, Blessings in Disguise (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1985).
    • Harris, Kenneth, Attlee (Weidenleld & Nicolson, London, (1982) 1995 edition used).
    • Hawkins, Jack, Anything For A Quiet Life (Elm Tree Books, London, 1973).
    • Kydd, Sam, For You the War is Over (London, 1973).
    • Lamb, Richard, The MacMillan Years ; 1957-1963 ; The Emerging Truth (John Murray, London, 1995).
    • & Calder, Angus (Eds.), Time to Kill: The Soldier's Experience of War in the West 1939-45 (Pimlico, London, 1997).
    • & Crang, Jeremy A., The Burning Blue : A New History of the Battle of Britain (Pimlico, London, 2000).
    • Adie, Kate, Corsets to Camouflage: Women and War (Coronet, London, (2003) 2004 edition used).
    • Aitken, Ian, Alberto Cavalcanti - Realism & National Cinema (Flicks Books, Trowbridge, 2000).
    • Ang, len, Desperately Seeking the Audience (Routledge, London, (1991) 1998 edition used).
    • Cain, P.J., & Hopkins, AG., British Imperialism : Crisis & Deconstruction, 1914-1 990 (Longman, London, 1993).
    • Calder, Angus, The Myth ofthe Blitz (Pimlico, London, (1991) 1995 edition used).
    • The People's War: Britain 1939-45 (Pimlico, London, 1992).
    • Carpenter, Humphrey, That Was Satire, That Was : The Satire Boom of the 1960s (Victor Gollancz Ltd., London, 2000).
    • Chapman, James, The British at War: Cinema, State & Propaganda 1939-1945 (lB. Tauris, London, 1998).
    • Charinley, John, Churchill's Grand Alliance : The Anglo-American Relationship 1940-57 (Sceptre, London, 1995).
    • Chibnall, Steve & Murphy, Robert (Eds.), British Crime Cinema (Routledge, London, 1999).
    • Chibnall, Steve, J. Lee Thompson (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000).
    • Childs, David, Britain Since 1945: A Political History (Ernest Berm, London, 1979).
    • Churchill, Winston S., The Second World War (Penguin, London, (1959) 1990).
    • Dyer, Richard, Stars (BFI, London, (1979) 1994 edition used).
    • Porter, Bernard, The Lion's Share : A Short History of British Imperialism 1850-1983 (Longrnan, London (1975) 1993 edition used).
    • Drummond, Andrew, 'Death on the River Kwai', 14 May, 1998, p 14.
    • Ellis, John, 'Made in Ealing', Screen, Vol.16, No. I, Spring 1977, pp 78-127.
    • 'Dresden The Vindication', Daily Mail, 14 February, 2004, pp 44-45.
    • Rhodes, Giulia, 'Sisters in Arms', Sunday Express, 12 October, 2003, pp 51-53.
    • Snowball, David, Propaganda and its Discontents', Journal of Communication, Vol. 49, No. 3, Summer 1999, pp 165-171.
    • Sorlin, Pierre, 'War and Cinema: Interpreting the Relationship', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 14, No.4, 1994, pp 357-365.
  • No related research data.
  • No similar publications.

Share - Bookmark

Cite this article