British comedy cinema has been a mainstay of domestic production since the beginning of the last Century and arguably the most popular and important genre in British film history.
This edited volume will offer the first comprehensive account of the rich and popular history of British comedy cinema from silent slapstick and satire to contemporary romantic comedy. Using a loosely chronological approach, essays cover successive decades of the 20th and 21st Century with a combination of case studies on key personalities, production cycles and studio output along with fresh approaches to issues of class and gender representation. It will present new research on familiar comedy cycles such as the Ealing Comedies and Carry On films as well as the largely undocumented silent period along with the rise of television spin offs from the 1970s and the development of animated comedy from 1915 to the present.
Films covered include: St Trinians, A Fish Called Wanda, Brassed Off, Local Hero, The Full Monty, Four Lions and In the Loop.
Contributors: Melanie Bell, Alan Burton, James Chapman, Richard Dacre, Ian Hunter, James Leggott, Sharon Lockyer, Andy Medhurst, Lawrence Napper, Tim O’Sullivan, Laraine Porter, Justin Smith, Sarah Street, Peter Waymark, Paul Wells
Table of Contents
1. British comedy cinema: sex, class and very naughty boys, Laraine Porter and I.Q. Hunter 2. British silent comedy: from slapstick to satire, Laraine Porter 3. No limit: British class and comedy of the 1930s, Lawrence Napper 4. ‘Northern films for Northern people’ – the story of the Mancunian Film Company, C.P. Lee 5. Ealing Comedies 1947–1957: ‘The bizarre British, faced with yet another extraordinary situation’, Tim O’Sullivan 6. ‘From adolescence into maturity’: the film comedy of the Boulting Brothers, Alan Burton 7. Margaret Rutherford and comic performance, Sarah Street 8. A short history of the Carry On films, James Chapman 9. Gird your armour on: the genteel subversion of the St. Trinian’s films, Andrew Roberts 10. Norman Wisdom: Rank Studios and the rise of the Super Chump, Richard Dacre 11. From telly laughs to belly laughs: the rise and fall of the sitcom spin-off, Peter Waymark 12. From window cleaner to potato man: confessions of a working class stereotype, I.Q. Hunter 13. Making Ben-Hur look like an epic: Monty Python at the movies, Justin Smith 14. Travels in Curtisland: Richard Curtis and British comedy cinema, James Leggott 15. ‘The sight of 40 year old genitalia too disgusting, is it?: wit, whimsy and wishful thinking in British animation 1900 – present, Paul Wells
I.Q. Hunter is Professor of Film Studies at De Montfort University, Leicester. He is the author of British Trash Cinema (2013) and Cult Film as a Guide to Life (2016), editor of British Science Fiction Cinema (1999) and co-editor with Laraine Porter of British Comedy Cinema (2012).
Laraine Porter is a Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at De Montfort University. She was Director of the Broadway Media Centre in Nottingham for ten years between 1998 and 2008 and is the co-founder and director of the British Silent Film Festival. She is currently the Principal Investigator on a major three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHR)-funded project researching the transition between silent and sound cinema in the UK.
Justin Smith is Professor of Media Industries at the University of Portsmouth, UK. He is the author of Withnail and Us: Cult Films and Film Cults in British Cinema (2010), and, with Sue Harper, British Film Culture in the 1970s: The Boundaries of Pleasure (2011). He is Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project Fifty Years of British Music Video (2015-17).