The Routledge Companion to British Cinema History: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Companion to British Cinema History

1st Edition

Edited by I.Q. Hunter, Laraine Porter, Justin Smith


456 pages

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Over 39 chapters The Routledge Companion to British Cinema History offers a comprehensive and revisionist overview of British cinema as, on the one hand, a commercial entertainment industry and, on the other, a series of institutions centred on economics, funding and relations to government.

Whereas most histories of British cinema focus on directors, stars, genres and themes, this Companion explores the forces enabling and constraining the films’ production, distribution, exhibition, and reception contexts from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

The contributors provide a wealth of empirical and archive-based scholarship that draws on insider perspectives of key film institutions and illuminates aspects of British film culture that have been neglected or marginalized, such as the watch committee system, the Eady Levy, the rise of the multiplex and film festivals.

It also places emphasis on areas where scholarship has either been especially productive and influential, such as in early and silent cinema, or promoted new approaches, such as audience and memory studies.

Table of Contents


I.Q. Hunter, Laraine Porter and Justin Smith


1 The origins of British cinema, 1895 – 1918

Bryony Dixon

2 "Temporary American citizens": British cinema in the 1920s

Laraine Porter

3 "King of cameramen": Jack Cox and British cinematography in the silent era

Kelly Robinson

4 Designing the silent British film

Laurie N. Ede

5 Stardom in silent cinema

Adrian Garvey

6 The view from the pit: British silent cinema and the coming of sound

Neil Brand

7 The talkies come to Britain: British silent cinema and the transition to sound, 1928 - 1930

Laraine Porter

8 The Tudor Cinema, Leicester: a local case study

Guy Barefoot

9 The rise of the Film Society movement

Richard MacDonald


PART TWO - The classic period: 1930 - 1980

10 Make-believe and realism in British film production: from the coming of sound to the abolition of the National Film Finance Corporation

Charles Drazin

11 Local film censorship: the watch committee system

Alex Rock

12 Producers and moguls in the British film industry, 1930-1980

Andrew Spicer

13 Émigrés in classic British cinema

Andrew Moor

14 "Out of the frying pan, into the fire": British documentary, 1945 - 1952

Steve Foxon

15 "Above and beyond everyday life": the rise and fall of Rank’s contract artists of the 1950s

Steve Chibnall

16 "A friend to every exhibitor": National Screen Service and the British trailer industry

Keith M. Johnston

17 The Eady Levy, "the envy of most other European nations": runaway productions and the British Film Fund in the Early 1960s

James Fenwick

18 The Children’s Film Foundation

Andrew Roberts

19 "As long as indifferent sexy films are box office they will abound!!": The Jacey cinema chain and independent distribution and exhibition in 1960s Britain

Adrian Smith

20 Cinema and the age of television, 1950-1970

Sian Barber

21 The BBFC and the apparatus of censorship

Lucy Brett

22 The British Film Institute: between culture and industry

Richard Paterson

23 Trades unions and the British film industry, 1930s–1980s

Iain Reid

24 The public film archives and the evolving challenge of screen heritage preservation in the UK

James Patterson

25 Good of its kind? British film journalism

Sheldon Hall

PART THREE - Contemporary British Cinema: 1980 to the present

26 Cult films in British cinema and film culture

Kate Egan

27 The Scala Cinema: a case study

Jane Giles

28 Underground filmmaking: British Super 8 in the 1980s

Jo Comino

29 The rise of the multiplex

Stuart Hanson

30 Rewind, playback: re-viewing the "video boom" in Britain

Johnny Walker

31 The rise and fall of practically everyone? The independent British film production sector from the 1980s to the present

James Leggott

32 From Film Four to the Film Council: film policy, subsidy and sponsorship, and the relationship between cinema and TV, 1980-2010

James Cateridge

33 The architects of BBC Films

Anne Woods

34 The UKFC and the Regional Screen Agencies

Jack Newsinger

35 Hollywood blockbusters and UK production today

James Russell

36 Distributing British cinema

Julia Knight

37 Memories of British cinema

Matthew Jones

38 From Lerwick to Leicester Square: UK film festivals and why they matter

Sarah Smyth

39 Crowdfunding independence: British cinema and digital production/distribution platforms

Bethan Jones and Bertha Chin

About the Editors

I.Q. Hunter is Professor of Film Studies at De Montfort University, UK. 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, UK. 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 AHRC-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).

About the Series

Routledge Media and Cultural Studies Companions

Routledge Media and Cultural Studies Companions offer thorough, high-quality surveys and assessments of the major topics in the fields of media and cultural studies. All entries in each companion are specially commissioned and written by leading scholars in the field. Clear, accessible, and cutting-edge, these companions are the ideal resource for advanced undergraduates, postgraduate students, and researchers alike.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies