Audiovisual Cultures episode 52 – British Film History with Dr Lawrence Napper automated transcript

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hello this is audio-visual cultures the podcast at mind’s eye two different aspects of culture production for your listening pleasure I’m a host and creator polo player in this edition and Rochelle and I visit British film historian dr. Laurence snapper in his office at King’s College London to hear all about his work big thanks to our members at forward slash a V cultures for your much appreciated support stay tuned at the end if you’d like to find out how to help the podcast and get in touch until and do you enjoy this chat with Orient’s about his work on early cinema empire and imperialism and cinema pantomime and much more do you be warned there is some swearing and much nerdery ahead my interests are around early cinema cinema twenties really British cinema so guess what they intersect early British cinema a thrilling and my previous project have generally been around British early cinema British cinema the 20s and 30s I did a project about cinema and the middle ground later between popular British films and novels bestselling novels and theatre shows and television and how they will mashed up together and thrilling middlebrow into war excitement and then later on I did a book about British representations of the First World War in the 1920s where I was interested in you know promise let’s talk about that and I was interested in films that came before that’s in front at a point where wasn’t really possible to say oh god this war was terrible and it was complete waste of time we’re actually people watching the films have been totally affected by the war in ways that you know you couldn’t just say well this was a waste you had to say there’s some kind of meaning to be got from the fact that my father brother son died how did the films represent that and deal with that so since I finished that finished a couple of years ago and I’ve been gradually thinking about new projects that I picked a family know quite a nice position because I’m just starting a couple so I’m not really sure I’m doing basically there’s lots of things where I might go not where you clear which once again so maybe I think I am it’s obvious which one he’s gonna become this is a big thing next but I’m still so the main one that I’m thinking about the moment is Empire thinking about British cinema as an imperial cinema and that is partly a response to I guess a tradition that I belong to of teaching British cinema as a national cinema where you think about representing Britain as a nation what does that mean and where you think about which cinema is an industrial construct where the main competitor is America and all the debates in the 1920s and 1930s and right up to the 60s and right onto now are about this idea that somehow which cinema is under threat because there’s this huge American cinema that’s like and there quite often talked about in terms of American culture colonizing Britain and I think we’re sort of comfortable with those sorts of ideas and what we tend to forget of course is that and the films that we made under the famous graphics and various other acts got distributed to whole range of places that aren’t Britain but where parts of the British Empire and also lots of those films represent our Imperial activities so it’s not just about saying here loads of sort of an empire adventure films and this is the way they represent British imperial activities but it’s also thinking about how British films more generally circulate within an imperial context and in the post Imperial context so how do films are bad I suppose the obvious example is Simba thumb from the 50s about the male male right all right how did that go down Kenya or what were the relationships that meant that that got made how difficult was it those sorts of questions I guess one things I’m starting to discover is of course films like that they don’t get shown in places perhaps because the Colonial Office says let’s not annoy the natives showing them the film about highway superfab and their fights for independence or a load of all crap no no that’s not something like alone an office is interested in getting involved in because the film itself can create a flashpoint so yeah I just started that but I’m it’s like it’s one of those things where you just think it’s like this stupid first little project where you think like now I’m gonna have to read everything about the First World War it’s like you would believe how many books are about Empire about D colonialism and then you look at the films and the moment I’m sort of concentrating on 1945 to 1960 and I thought I knew bushes em are pretty well from that period but no no turns out wait wait Benny imagine and I like there were so many fields where Empire or the vision quite bad quite young officer

it’s in a colonial country yeah at a point where that country is beginning to have uprisings he’s part of a very small British army force which is a ten oh I that gun left-side big thing is okay we may be about to give up this country but we’re gonna do it right extremely stiff upper-lip idli and there’s even a bit where the native officer who’s come into the officer’s club then presents his ultimatum and that must counter refused to even listen to him because he’s got his hat on yes and he says you have to if you want to be in here you have to take your hat off that’s the way this officer’s club building works everyone has to take the house I’m not going to listen to you enjoyed that you have so the biggest speech of the whole thing is about no man here with his act on is it when it seemed to me like one of these meditations on white although it might be right for the Empire to just stop existing very soon that it would be a little bit too traumatic to us to make the entire thing had been a huge mistake and therefore they would have to be a discussion with itself they employed have to have a discussion with yourself about gentle negotiation out of it even in situations where countries were just asserting independence yeah I mean it’s quite yeah I mean I think that’s interesting film if you think about the narratives of most countries that do gained independence in that period is that there’s been quite a long term campaign both litical lobbying campaign and a campaign of action violence where they’re fighting for independence quite a lot of the time what happens is the British can’t keep the whole situation together and they suddenly pull out and credibly quickly leaping basically a bloodbath on the ground so there’s the difference between the fantasy of our withdrawal which is we are maintaining control throughout even in terms of demeanor and dress code and actually the fact of the matter which is that quite a lot of places it became untenable for us to stay and we would just desperately try them I mean I’m saying we you see I mean it is that a part of this project is about trying to take seriously viewpoints where it’s not really possible to say we in that context so I mean basically colonized peoples and the ways in which their film history relates to that film history and the ways in which they understand those events and portrayed them in films and this whole project came really out of of discussion I had with an A student who’ve more or less said to me your vision was kind of a bit racist Lawrence because okay there wasn’t a massive amount of immigration to Britain until the 1950s and yes you do cover that when you hit the nineteen fifties but newsflash you had an empire and you’ve never engaged in an zone there are lots of ways in which you could be talking about representations of race and colonialism and the ways in which British cinema is complicit in a whole range of racist practices way is not necessary for it to be sapphire or flame on the streets there’s plenty of forebears for that and I think if you also teach a history of British cinema there is just plucky Londoners hiding in the tubes during the Blitz that’s what a version of British history then you’re doing everybody disservice for any because more complex Oh history agents involved in that’s terribly serious isn’t it I mean of course you can see I applied just basically what I’d be doing it by a political event I have got piles and piles of films from the 50s look a bit

you know I think it’s a Josie funders but the sampling funded project that Duncan Pete’s been doing which is pretty cinema agency yeah project yeah it smells like the begin new decade by decade multi-volume history of the cinema of the atlantic archipelago history of the UK stroke trials i mean i think yes it’s there’s definitely there’s scope I think for completely rethinking the category of wishes cinema in the context of those things I think that certainly that what that project is involved in and also think about the big project that new Greece and Colin McCabe had a few years ago about the colonial Film Archive they created this clone in the film database it was not feature films so much as educational documentaries films that were made by the Colonial Office for showing to native peoples on making scare quotes a lot of the time those were films about control it’s an extraordinary resource about a superb database loads of research done by Tom Rice just kind of amazing where he talks about the film and how it fits in both to film policy and Imperial policy or colonial policy and the films are there so you can click on it and it’s like come on here we are in Malaysia in all the films chronologically that do with this space so there’s lots of I’m not

rethinking categories business I’m just thinking cuz we’re picking it very difficult questions at the moments again scare quotes the Irish question I’m wondering if before the protection of Ireland when we’re saying British cinema is that including anything high design and fitting that I know it you’ve done something image on hello yes that book I’m John has a lot of Irish chapters that are inflected towards Ireland in that book and actually that my chapter doesn’t really talk about but I mean it is absolutely true that so France is one of the films i wrote about in the book about the 1920s in the war as a film called ii and of course the first one was pretty contentious in ireland in 1926 wherever 23 i think it is an EP is shown in a cinema in dublin and basically I was nationalist completely object to it because it is the sort of imperialist act it’s an act of remembrance there’s a couple of incidents where prints of the film are stolen and taken out of cinemas and about show them there’s one interesting thing where there’s a bombing in the cinema hoping anybody gets hurt but the cinema projection booth I mean that’s one of the things that really interested me is this idea of not necessarily what’s being represented it’s not about censorship it’s not saying oh you want to cut these bits out in this film it’s like everything about this film is so politically edges that actually we’re just gonna try and prevent it from being shown there’s a good example of that happening in the dramas asked about Prem Chandra that talks about that in India in the 1913 with a film called the drum where basically people like this film is like the total imperialist nonsense and racist in all these various kinds of ways you know they’ve got why actors playing blackface villains as Indians and I mean it’s just sort of inset and what happens is people just assemble at the cinema and say you know [ __ ] this you know let’s close this film down and eventually as I was saying before it gets withdrawn the Colonial Office say probably a good idea if we just stop showing this so this idea of film is this flashpoint for those kinds of local politics you know we sort of think of the film’s is just being made in the UK and then being distributed everybody having a great time actually but a lot of time against the business fringe the bomb and that was the other thing that if you think about all of those stories that you tell about the development of Britain British national cinema it’s like when you talk about the quota act in 1936 and those debates those debates will happen in Empire conferences no Imperial they’re literally in the context of Imperial conferences and about how these films how can we control representation of white people to non-white colonial subjects possibly be oppressing or sit alongside if there are other national cinemas that are actually colonial cinemas we could do the same like from soar yeah Holland or Germany yes absolutely and I think not an expert in those national cinemas at all but my sense is that those film history traditions are more advanced very first research I did for my PhD thesis was the very earliest British from fan magazines and first few issues of these the prestige films that were featured in the first few issues that were these magazines were just short story versions or films very first prestige films that feature in these magazines were the films that were being made by the Kalin company I’m suspecting New York the films they were making in Ireland so the filming them in Ireland cutting and printing them in New York and then they plead demons these to be an appropriate product to lead the founding of this new film fan magazine in the UK words yeah even though these films were being made by some quite pro Irish Republican lawmakers that’s working for macaron company there was a couple of Irish from the story and stony Tracy and Peter strain recently did a documentary about this but making what are called the okay limb films yeah and apparently there was a bit of conflict between the UK government at the time and these American filmmakers because the content of these films were really anti British and then somehow these films become the films that have foregrounded in film fan magazine is printed in London and that is distributed throughout the British Isles as this thing that’s totally palatable for all somehow someone just decides to go and that one the colonized subjects are the ones who may like these films more war than the colonizers someone probably just spoke really hard in a meeting in favor for grounding these films which were implicitly quite critical of yeah but it’s wrong yeah it was a bit of conflict I did not sniff at all through reading these magazines yeah cause only through this great research somebody’s to family story today and they own evident how from the way sister films are received in the press in Ireland or from meetings within the UK ministers what was the sometime girl I think the evidence they used either it was the personal memoirs of Jean Gontier who had leave that case at the time or it was definitely that but it was also I think they also consult some official documents in a government archive somewhere or it was the producer Sidney olcott’s own Diaries or Lexus that then yes it wasn’t just the kind of well guess according to what we think quite I’ve been going on here there was at they’ve managed to find evidence of actual fracas petechiae Franco’s with the local Catholic priest because the young girls in the town where these American actors were staying we’re getting a bit too familiar and so there was and then yeah that was finding the permissions they got to film in Ireland were granted by the UK government but this that it to get quite resistant after a while when everybody was not company was making yeah that’s interesting I mean one of the things that I’m hopeful for and I’ve done a bit of preliminary research about this and I think there is evidence suggests that there might be some material there is the film finances arc are you familiar with that bill finances it starts in the sort of mid to late 40s and they are an underwriting company so they’re an insurance company effectively but underwrite the finance for film productions start in the UK they’re actually they’re still going and they’ve become quite a big part of the American system but effectively what happens is because they’re underwriting the budget for these films in order to agree to do that they need full rundown of the script and the budgeting what the filmmakers preparing to do and they have a report on that saying whether they think the filmmaker is a complete liability whether they think the script is viable and then they think the shooting schedule is viable so you get these preliminary reports where they say and this is completely fine that’s a really trustworthy director or you get preliminary reports where you say you know this how colic is your terrible liability and you know let’s not go with this but then again the producers quite good and the project sees through quite well-developed so we’ll think about that and then you get daily reports they demand have done your course from onset where they basically justify if they’ve gone over time any point so in my fantasy there will be material which says you know here we are shooting on location in Kenya and we are going over because we are experiencing some resistance from the local population about that in terms of the project I don’t know whether I’ll find anything about that but you do find I mean those are the kinds of things that will show up in those reporters you have a very keen fantasy there I do have you see we have imagined was gonna be the arc over there you go there that’s

but there’s not some other thrilling things I’m sure there will be useful material it’s a really interesting archive you get these Eureka moments where you didn’t think even could possibly exist and it’s even better than what you were after what you’re after doesn’t survive but even juicier stuff turns up as well so it’s yes so much rewarding after yes they all say yeah and things that you really don’t expect to find I mean I was looking for something about training disabled projectionists and I found this in the same file there’s this whole stuff about the profits from the back of the sallman who owns the house access them and done anything about yet but you know all those notes they’re waiting to clear

basically blimey I forget which department Lee I think the War Office is saying oh look how marvelous you know we’re donating these profits to veterans charities and the Treasury is saying no you are not that you’ll find we had a monopoly on this and you know this film belongs to us and so therefore those profits belong to us thank you very much and there’s a massive the exchange of letters where they’re basically fighting who owns the rice well my great things about doing uncover research in this country is our forebears may have been imperialist but they also kept quite a lot of record

pinkey looking at the colonial surface you get this memo about a colonial thing and it clearly just goes around the offices and so you get these things say you know Malay straits fine Kenya fine just goes round the world why all and all these representatives of these different places are like oh well we think this might be a bit of a pop music this list in the margin basically say what they think avenge Tarrasch and that’s when handwritten stuff is a bit of a blessing because getting some sort of official document that my existing multiple copies and there’s quite easy to get hold of but then you get to a copy where someone’s recently some it says there in the margins that’s something Samson you’re cold yeah so that’s one of the things I’m do we get to hear a bit more about that article you’ve done about the disabled veterans rejectionist projectionists sir very marginalized sometimes a film culture anyway i minutes disabled projection of so that’s something I’d never heard of before that was quite funny I enjoyed writing that so it was about basically and again it was partly through the book about the First World War I think I came to it by reading through kinematic at weekly in there were a couple of diss items in Keaney we choose effectively said the skenes for training disabled ex-servicemen as projectionists have now finished and as i am one of these schemes by the way and it turns out that during the First World War towards the sort of middle of the first book was being a film projection this wasn’t a protected operation so there was a real shortage of non professionals and I mean I guess people will know about the fact that they trained women up to be film projectionist and there was lots of discussion about whether women had to were able to keep calm in such a ways you might need to the psychological skills to be a precious and there’s a load of other stuff where they’re saying oh well but you know woman’s flowing garments will be inflammable and Pirates have a litter they actually the ministry sends somebody off into lab to do tests on benefits of world to see how that’s all but the other people that are in the projection booth are teenagers so no boys up to about between 13 and 16 get employed as rejection which is obviously not a great situation there’s a scheme that starts which is about trying to Train disabled ex-servicemen has a kind of rehabilitation thing to make them it projectionists and it’s done through the same sorts of central hospital for men who’ve lost their limbs and they do training in electrician and car maintenance and all kinds of other things and being projection this is one of the options that we need to choose there’s a school in London that’s run by a guy called Paul Kimberley and so hope to get in this about I was always bit like how does this work because being a projection this is a pretty physical occupation you’re in a pretty small pretty dark room quite pokey you’ve got to lift heavy reels of film above your head you know put them onto the top the feed spools of the projector in this period that hand-cranked it’s like you have to be pretty fit new projectionist but it turns out actually if you’ve lost a leg but you’ve got two arms then you are deemed to be able to do that and there was lots of discussion about the idea that maybe this was B but we had facial disfigurements so they had all their limbs but they had such terrible fish for the bigger ones that they should be hidden away in the projection box and that was a blessed relief I found evidence of that at all I did find evidence of was lots of people who were not lot significant number of people who were trained who had lost limbs lost legs I mean basically what happens is as soon as the wall comes to an end tada you’ve got thousands of projectionists coming back from the front saying well we want our jobs back and for ministry assist oh oh well whatevs forget it disabled men you’re not going to be projection it’s down it’s part of a wider story about how Bruce Lee veterans were treated yes back on the scratch even do women he’ll also expect to go straight back into the homes I mean it’s certainly in terms of the women that exactly the same thing happens in the Second World War and that’s one of the things that’s really interesting in the archive is because when this gets raised in the Second World War the minister asks for the final stone the first would also they’re all there in the same time and they’re all set yeah the same concern about clothing and whether they’ll be able to keep their heads if there’s a fire or there’s all the same sorts of issues like just completely reproduce themselves it’s still quite a male-dominated profession now well having an objection just I’ve ever met spinner guy I’ve been trying to find a projectionists for this show and yeah no it means Turkey that means the sort of network and a club but there are some female projectors there was a great project that John burrows and Charlotte Bronson were running at Warwick if you look on their websites called the projection box I think there’s quite a considerable number of reminiscences by women projectionists about what it was how they got into the industry what it was like for a while how’s the mark anymore she was there when I was there so he’s talking about you I ever got in the production boxes and I was teaching and I was showing a DVD so she was actually working with 35mm and is she is she left her did she stay as a projection yes – okay so but she’s working in it so they different place last I heard I’m not even sure she’s still in Northern Ireland living somewhere else like as you regularly observe most Northern Irish people this thing but first of all shortages of cinema stuff I’ve been in the British Library photographing hundreds of pages from the kinematic yearbook for my big you know counting do we love a bit of chaotic yeah some counting wood I wasn’t really reading stuff houses photograph 1088 got but I noticed lots of mentions that cinemas are closing down not for want of custom but for ones of staff it’s been a while actually since I’ve read Mike Hammonds back on sin imagine first world war but I can’t remember any piece of work that’s mentioned that phenomenon of cinemas closing down not forms of custom performative start yes the big story about the first world war is cinema rises to become the pastime of choice such that the squeeze is put onto theater and musical but it’s probably nowhere near and bad symbolism yeah everyone probably no I don’t think it is better and I think one of the things that John Burroughs argues one of the things he says is that one of the issues is that by the beginning of the First World War there are too many said well all right it’s been a financial thing that you could invest in building cinemas and the pentacle Weaver did it and there were a saturation pilots in Amar’s so it could be that that’s part of that sort of you just mean that it’s not just one to staff it’s the fact that they actually producing staff from another sitting across the street was anything that audience or one of the cinemas yeah and also he’s a little bit more reserved about the idea that there’s a massive cinema going boom says well that was really late in the war and really needing more towards the end of the war just into the piece am I totally misrepresenting his argument for memory but you managed to get to the end of it oh it’s pretty great book I think it’s kind of amazing I’m about 10 pages through it right oh really oh it’s worth because it’s a bit like the Borgias it’s like some really quite big names getting his argument is article version of the book you know get an article version yeah II think it’s cause no punches yeah yeah my lease I this person is wrong miss the reason and if we could all be so brave yeah man he’s been babe but it is a great I mean she’s a great week so they seen everything I’m policy really books about Empire I’m thinking oh [ _ ] you know it’s like picked up one yes so was there work on disabled voting projectionists was it for an article yes it was it was actually for John and Charlotte it was show us at something and she said they were we’re doing this project that sounds very interesting and so I went into the special issue of the journal popular film British it used to be cool something in this course something slightly different in every British cinema on television yes Joe the British cinema television aired they had a projection they had one that showcased research dimension and this I think that’s not about winning positions and that’s one of the other things I’ve sort of got into is that idea that sit line is positive with this notion of protesting the space no idea of the cinema space that somewhere where you can trace people having fines I mean talking about you and you’re counting I’ve I mean I’m sure we all started using the British newspapers online like a Man Thing resource much more than we used to and I’ve started doing that to find stuff about things happening in cinema spaces like fights Mars probably what you doing genealogy the thing you hope for is that someone of your ancestors got in a bit of trouble with the law because they don’t but then it reduces more than just births marriages deaths something is found in your documentation and my both sides of my family my dad and wants a oh great my there’s been a bit of that but the same thing is also applying when you’re doing film history if someone got me in a bit of a scrape with the law now suddenly at the very least there’s local newspapers writing accounts of what’s happening in the courts because that’s a source of a column for a local newspaper and then of course if the court records exist you got somewhere else to go sometimes transcripts of into our speeches about cinema where people are giving you little tiny tastes of what they think about this thing and that’s when I was rare instances where what people are thinking all the time what we really hope we really wish people would just write down everyone just keep a diary or Diaries never become public property those rain since it happens when someone does something illegal or someone accuses well an example of that came when I was writing that very article about disabled projectionists I started out with a load of discussions from local tribunals where people where basically the committee is say you should have been called up why aren’t you being a soldier and their employers coming symbolizes my manager and therefore provides and there’s a dispute about whether this seventeen-year-old should be in uniform or not or whether he is mean about cinema and one of the cinema managers who is I think himself trying to fight against being called up is the guy who later went on to make wonderful London so I joke with the law it was it Frank Parkinson I think it was oh yeah you’re right that really helps and that resource is kind of amazing because you do get that it does enable that was the other thing that was really useful in terms of writing their projectionists article because you can follow so each local area has its disabled projectionists training school so Newcastle had cow-house heard of that I don’t think he’s exists as a building anymore but there was this place called Cowen house which sure had been I think you know some rich local widow I think had given a lot of money to set up this General Hospital I think for disabled veterans to be retrained in a whole range of things you know I don’t know where it was no I’m totally looking that it will be in the archive I should imagine you find something in the time where our cars so you had these local you can trace them all locally but you can also trace where the films go locally so there was a load of stuff I imagined identify one film which showed disabled men who had been trained actually projecting stuff and then you can follow this the route because the Minister of War uses the film as a way of demonstrating what they’re doing for disabled veterans they show it to the Veterans Association to transfer publicize how Martha’s pension scheme is evolved and so there are these accounts of these films showing disabled veterans being trained as projections and then it is revealed at the end of the show that it has been projected but it’s the kind of thing that you would never be able to find if you were just sitting in : Dale day-after-day can only happen through digital searches I put a speak I suppose it was it was innocently a disclaimer in the instruction to my recent book where I said I’m adding to modifying a story that Richard de Cordova told and I’m sure that if he’d lived into the era of digital newspapers he would have done this already because it was really was really unfair fight because this guy didn’t outlive the 1990s up against the resources that we have to be accessible now there’s you know I could have done this with all of my limbs tied behind my back ya know it is amazing the difference that is made now it’s interesting that you get that extra level of detail and you get that nuance the broad stories doesn’t change that much one thing I found is that those tiny little links that send you to a new resource that you didn’t think might be relevant those are the things I’ve been finding digitized newspapers yeah my story about max Linder only came up as a result though I was actually American digitized newspapers on newspapers com his name was being mentioned quite a lot in early 1910 and it just struck me hang on that’s that’s before the Florence Lawrence they and the nuts that set me off like in their other archives so it makes links I think that’s one of the usual things that anything be linking together a lot of archives you’re going to start to see everything in a new light and that can lead to some quite big changes to the story yes yes thank you and I’m not going being into you can never stop [ _ ] can I ask you a bit more about the idea of the meadow Bry middlebrow is when that was my thesis and I guess I think about it now a part of my motivation for writing that thesis was that I wanted to write about British film of 30 which I thought was hab and like everybody around me thought was officership and it was this is something about I guess how like who are you like what the hell are you doing in terms of being a film studies person are you somebody wishes they were a critic or is a Christian and has moved into the room studies and so you’re actually or thinking about this text of the film darling you know whether this is a great film or whether it is not it doesn’t deserve to be in the Canon are you is it the movie pantheon that kind of film studies versus I mean yeah loads of different approaches so you might say well I’m a philosopher and actually what I’m interested in is the ways in which this film speaks to philosophy I’m over that talks where I put my hand up and I say they couldn’t care less like really that is not far their interests their interest is in how the film speaks to them about the philosophy ideas that it contains or that they would expect and you know film his story in our town Andrew his being much more of a film historian his story meet i person me although I’m much more historically person than most people in mind but your life mega detail my approach when I was trying to work out how I was going to find any it’s used to write about Jesse Matthews was what does it mean to the people then what does it mean to that audience what does this film say to that audience how does it help them frame the world around them and what I was up against constantly not only from people around me who was there

but also from the critics of the period who was their darlings for Hitchcock’s okay but you know these trashy films were vulgar people they’re not interesting or they were saying cinema as an art form should be cinematic and these films don’t perform that and therefore they can be dismissed out of hand so you get that from people like William M hunter it’s sort of coming out of a kind of huge Olivos fr leavis of notion of like this is an art form that should be cure to its own thing it should be cinematic just as the novel should be literary just as the photograph should be photographic rather than referring to painted arts just I mean that idea of a sort of purity of medium and the sort of purity of the object in terms of its relationship to the medium gives it a higher status I mean this is something you get no new cinema of course all the time where you go to modern art galleries and they’re showing you workers coming out of the factory missing the clock it’s so modern Daleks and modern you see love is this idea that this is so new and modern and you’re like well but no actually and we just think about how this fits into the culture of its time yes it’s modern but it’s not a revelation because it’s drawing on theatre and it’s drawing on a whole range of cultural objects that are in this period that is part of it’s not just that suddenly became cinematic and that’s kind of where this idea the military I kind of settled on the notion of the middlebrow as being a way in which a different relationship to the medium is described at the time so people who are cycling off British cinema at the time are kind of using middle browse a way of doing that and they’re saying well it’s I mean people still say this about films directed by a theatre directors like anything with Judi Dench in you know you get people who are fancy themselves as being interested in cinemas a cinematic medium saying well it looks like it’s directed by a theatre director he doesn’t know how to use the camera he doesn’t know how to edit properly it’s just a stage play that’s been opened out of it those kinds of discussions are being made in the 30s as well and I’ll get around the thirties I mean my idea of the middle row is that you turn that criticism on its head and to celebrate the way in which the film is embedded within the culture that it so film adaptations of novels have been big in the period but also novels you know the novels that enter the Canon get taught in universities from that period are not than opposite people were reading and to go back to those novels that people were reading and of course what you find is that most of those best salable were made into films and people weren’t being like heard darling you know I can’t possibly watch that dreadful adaptation of that pure a piece of literary genius they were like oh yeah here’s the story of the good companions and now it’s a film how fab you know so there’s a sense in which it’s like oh it’s not necessarily cultural object to middlebrow that makes it middlebrow it’s the attitude towards culture both from the audience and that is implied by the ways in which the objects certain feelings but it’s also I think my argument was that it was kind of a specifically British or English thing of that moment so it was about making sense of culture in the light of mass communication technologies that allowed culture circulation in life greater ways than it had done before so this relationship with radio and television as well as film as well as bestselling novels you know you think that novels yeah okay there’s Dickens but actually bestselling novels are really a feature of sort of 20s and 30s that idea of a novel that you bought and took Oh Marvin that was serialized or that was happened in the story papers or like an object of volume it’s sort of obviously middlebrow at the same time as I was writing became much more viable to talk about in literary studies so there’s lots of literary studies of the middlebrow writing and this sort of seen a release on speaker partly because of the kind of our guest starting allows sunlight and that idea they’re kind of small see conservatism of interwar British literature and also that it’s you know middle barrister understood like a feminine fear where you’re Hemingway’s and your choices are all blow keep looking around but actually the people who are really writing the interesting stuff like ordinary people are reading at people like as a tailor washy call that gets reprinted by Persephone nowadays Dorothea Whipple there’s real interesting like end of college when we did the recordings after the last year’s pretty silent film festival symposium there was lots of Paulo remarking you got to spend a couple of days with people who don’t think your rod and this this is the thing about been within Lawrence’s aura because Lawrence understand war phenomena are intermedia a phenomenon which is caring in print culture probably of severe caring in audio-visual medium as well and so many people are resistant about even now in the company of people who realize that you probably need to look at at least two media and looking at the landscape of one in particular yeah I think that’s absolutely true this leads me well I don’t know that it does but these are the things I was like when I finished

and I’m not quite sure I’m gonna do about the pantomime thing I’m obsessed about it audio-visual fluids I know no boundaries go for it I love pantomime let me count the ways one of the ways in which I love pantomime is that it is a kind of access to 19th century theatre which is living so the kinds of shows that you’re talking about and the VNA archive I do start where although kind of looking at the variety shows all of those things they become part of pantomime but they are also they survive in pantomime pantomime a lot of the time is a variety show if you think about have you seen the pantomime in Newcastle the Danny Adams pantomime I never take you to the New Castle’s got three count them three pantomime and I think the Danny have spent a moment the face always worn off the best in the country he’s an amazing fan but he’s also different from lots of other pantomimes in the country in that because he’s an amazing clown it’s basically a variety show it’s a show of different apps built around him as a star and then incorporate so last it was called Goldilocks of the three bears and the setting was a circus so like the kind of Baron harder figure is runs a circus there’s one circus that doesn’t have animals in theirs and another circus it’s totally cool to animals and say obviously he’s trying to get the three bears so that they can perform in his circus a good one etc etc but of course this is just a perfect excuse for them to get in lots of circuses and the curtain opens and they’re like oh look here we are with the death-defying motorcyclists in a ball of fire ten minutes the other thing I love about phantom Army is that it uses the Victorian theatre space that we’re all used to in a way that absolutely makes the best of it so if you think often you think about the way well you know if you think about the ways in which people fetishize Shakespeare and Shakespeare’s original performance possibly have middlebrow change this was truly popular and we must understand it’d be so weird

middle of London experience melodrama let’s build a whole Victorian theater because we have a load of Victorian theaters they exist they’re all around us and you know that idea that somehow modern theatre should all be like minimalist Ronis like doesn’t come from the culture of those buildings but what does come from the cobwebs pantomime and pantomime uses all the effects that those buildings facilitate and allow all the trapdoor effects or the flying effects or the sea and Lani Oh like in Dick Whittington where they have a shipwreck on stage and then you have an underwater scene all of those theater effects are basically Victorian visual effects and you get to see them still today well how am I talking about it what survived a book about it but also it is the only version of picture theatre you get to see so you never get to see I mean can we name any victorian hits but actually I went to see London after dark at the fin bra the a musical melodrama Singh stage show it’s all about the building of the most honorable thing that you realizes is written as a series of spectacular effects to be rendered in the staging so there’s this brilliant opening sequence where they’re going down to inspect the newly opened circle line I know in this darkened tunnel and suddenly you know there’s a train coming towards them and the figure appears and is knocked over by the train it’s all done with these lighting effects and so it’s like sensational drama in great anyway of course it never gets revived nowadays but what does get revived just have to like just pantomime still massively popular you can still trace the ways in which pantomime both draughts through this thing about intermedia fest story on if you think about the ways in which better my muse is stars some different mediums draws in you know so you’ll get an X Factor star or a reality TV star appearing in the pantomime but you also have a Dame who is local to that area and there’s always that Dame in that place but you’ll also they licensed songs that have been hits that year so it’s super modern every year super modern and every year it changes and also they use things I cinema and they always did use things like cinema I mean from the moment that’s in my first began there was cinematic effects as part of pantomime and they still use them so the you know there’s a point in the second act where you put on your 3d specs and they go on a certain you know submarine you know how they go into the caves looking for the dragon or whatever they do and alike these really extreme 3d effects coming at you in ways that even 3d films can’t manage this League history to tell me I think because even in the Edwardian period these musicals are doing pantos over the new year in a way that means that for about a month they’re practically indistinguishable in theatres and then when these well not all of them but you know the most empires in particular a lot of the most empires become theatres in arms and twenties yeah and they get there by way of this interim phase where they’re playing reviews and pantomimes but basically they’re essentially the same thing and the ones in the made up of episodic bits we’re bringing performers on and off and doing very different sorts of a nice thing I mean I’ve never really quite got my head around the distinction between a musical and a theater is it to do with licensing in the auditorium is it see with you whether you can drink during the show I was reading something your David Maher where he mentioned that wasn’t really that clear that that was the distinction I think it’s a mixture of that because yet that’s part and which sort of license they get from the local council right because it is a music hall they don’t need the theatre license they need the music and dancing license and usually those two different licenses come from two different committees and if the watch committee usually would give some music and dancing licenses they’re worried about Randy horrible so licensing yeah is the difference as for differences between what happens on the stage it’s really quite easy to sell I mean I suppose that makes sense of the ways in which pantomime evolves and like essentially no scissors like at the beginning you get this before Act which is almost like a straight play and then you get the post beat which is the Harlequin aid where they don’t speak and they alternative to the pantomime caps and blah blah blah and Grimaldi comes in the Poliquin aid gets bigger and bigger and then by the late 19th century and you can still see the traces of that in a modern pantomime so like in Dick Whittington you will notice removed it Whittington and that story is pretty strong that you get to the interval basically they’ve gone off on their voyage the second act is a bit like you know we’ve given up on that so you don’t give a [ __ ] anymore you know he goes turn again with you you get barriers Whittington he’s poor rise at the thing gets his cat meets there the cook and mr. fitzwarren’s daughter gets accused of stealing gets thrown out of the house goes onto the hillside is about to leave and here’s the bail saying turn again Whittington you will be Lord Mayor of London the Good Fairy comes in as what makes this all happen and Tehran interval and then they open the next thing it’s like let’s just randomly get on a boat and sail away and here we are on a desert island it’s like same with Johnny Devine so is this week Easter Egg for thingy second I don’t worry Cloudland let’s just talk about for a girl with my parents and my daughters and I we went to repent at an Easter panto involved and I love the fact they have Easter Pantaloon you phenomena baby and I think it was which is the one that’s got the fairy godmother and a bad witch easily BC people you could be Cinderella ah Beauty and the Beast anyway about nine-tenths of it was just shenanigans between secondary characters a lot of it was just a kind of cooking scene in which oh yeah one characters just kept getting and so it was just all immaculately reversed slapstick comedy and every now and then we might get a bit of you know some fairy might come in and actually do I

think it is ten percent it is absolutely that relationship with narrative and spectacle the musical is I mean the stop scene is in every pantomime doesn’t matter what the story is there is a scene where Saddam we’re in the kitchen or Saddam we’re in the laundry or Saddam we’re doing some you know basic you know custard pies are gonna be thrown on this there’s maybe a schoolroom scene where they do lots pratfalls and things Danny Adams you see donkey when they had their stop scene you know it’s gonna happen because they have a canvas that they roll out over the whole thing and they give the front row they do really full but those sort of elements I think every need in this but I can’t the thing my problem is I couldn’t make it work with I mean I’m sure what one could but I’d have to become Andrew to do that looking through the performance histories in the archive and trying to work out where film was used of when it was used how it was used on what relations work sneaky side project person I can justify it for you right now I’ve been making lesser discoveries that a normal way for a cinema to come up out in here between about 1908 and about 1914 was not for new purpose converted a purpose-built venue to the opens showing films it was for an existing music hall to start showing films as one turn on its evening of sake tempo odds yep and then to just increase the amount of time achieving dispenser in films until it’s something like a 50/50 film live venue and then keep increasing the amount of films until it’s essentially just a cinema with a couple of variety actually interspersed and then one more step in its of cinema yeah and much the same happens with town halls those traveling film shows that a the way in which film is the dominant exhibition method for film about 1906 that it just stopped what happens is that the BBU Pictures which has got six outfits touring around Scotland for example it just extends the periods of time for which each of these film outfits is playing at a town hall and then starts to extend them a bit more than experiment bit more and essentially a town hall a public hall and Odd Fellows Hall a temperance all these things are being used permanently as cinemas and the next step is that the venue’s becomes a cinema so badly in them in Hartlepool one of the first cinemas they got to start up as the town halls now it’s the town hall Music Hall I think for us for a while it was the town hall cinema yeah it just became as anymore so this is a situation where cinemas emerge as an offshoot of an existing stage population which is already pretty diverse yeah so cinema can be regarded as one element of the biodiversity so to speak yeah of stage culture in and so it’s almost come to you now and say you’re not allowed to study pantomime you just go back to them and say well that’s like going to a biologist and they’re saying you study primates you can’t study rodents even though they’re both mammals yeah no I think I might find out something about metals by studying really close relatives right because we went to see a play version of David balancing

yes Sardi’s because you know that the awful empty of the tales paper was a half term thing so it was very you know so it wasn’t pantomime thing but it was very I was just saying because write those stories been adopted for television films and Oh actually they’re being adapted for these live stage places l and I’m doing bit like compliments isn’t it a bit like a pantomime on the screen let me do them and oh my pants – brilliant know that I’ve got your attention and that’s how we talk you talked about the middle Brown was this intermedia pantomime as essentially the same thing I mean they are the perfect they use all of those different ideas and they also you know in terms of stardom they call it star some elsewhere and the hidden Tom’s mother all the materials drawn in from elsewhere and just put into this mix into this Victorian pop of conventions because obviously they have rigid conventions as well they have the good fairy in the bad fairy and they all come in from the senders and all of those conventions completely rigid that’s not seeing the transformation seen the dark scene they’re all there but they are also being created out of bits of modern culture that work for me but of course it’s that you know we’re in pantomime season comes I do not with a good fan made some arguments for one pantomime needs to be studied by a film scholar the first is pantomimes and films are really close cousins and the other one is since acknowledging that the idea of this family trees even that’s a bit contrived because a lot of media works are intermedia l– anyway yes they’re the big soup that is a pantomime contains four or five different mediums they go down I mean David Maher has made this argument so well he’s always saying there needs to be more relationship between these two studies and film studies and they need to not be tsu’tey about each other and engage in battle – away – it still gotta do empire first but not many does your heaven you just have a little time though I might try this year to write a series of blogs about pantomime just to get my head even cyberstalking you don’t get to see all the thrilling things tell me stuff so I just do just try and hold my own so your insertion of random things into our conversations is Twitter ad there’s every other thing I’m a bit scary I’ve always been scared on intermedia phenomena let’s just acknowledge that in this little nest where we’re currently talking we have a praxinoscope that’s in the scope gramophone 3-grand further yes there are little theaters from Pollux and various other places Wilson’s musical yeah we have a stereoscope viewer stereoscope viewer and with many many cards fell off yes it’s the worst they called orrery is that an actual cake is an action suppose it was that was baked by one of my students I teach it or musical and I shared them hairspray and there is the ultra clutch she did already there was little the hairdos and everything I mean that’s my five yes oh okay I’ve also got you might be music pantomime story cool and I’ve got some slipping slides here these are things I take down show to the students they are I mean when you say it a slide switch all when I was a kid the slide there’s a tiny cardboard mounted pertubation Emery wears these hand-painted very durable really quite chunky skipping there’s another very racist these mechanisms like this that permit by this being quite quite I mean I imagine that these things saying expensive and they certainly were when I first started so I think these aren’t original because they were actually willing to be reusable shopping oh yes here we go wonderful effects of Hudson’s soap and what you have a guest going it turns a I mean basically you know I’m sure you know this you know who is the great doyenne of stereoscope culture and how adays know it’s Brian May of Queen oh obsessed with service Co he produces lots of service get you stereoscope treating wrongs of not sure

there was an exhibit when we were there about Brian Knight being in – yeah 30 produces these new he produces book seduces these sets of reprints basically your Victorian stereo cards those are all AZT stereoscope get this a bit of middlebrow intermediate ii stereoscope renditions of famous paintings it’s the next Jacobite being arrested so they just know so tenderly what is this it’s a 21st century reproduction oh I think of the 19th century hand tinted stereoscope photograph of a live scene that alludes to the staging of that painting of a pre raphaelite

there’s a dog okay shove it in there hold it up so you can move this back and forth so make it work scope you a little bit broken though it is a bit broken it was my grandmother’s I think we should go to the pub quite soon it’s too big but I wouldn’t build this is always working we’re just playing thank you so much you’ve been listening to audio-visual cultures with me Paula Blair and Rochelle on our special guest Lauren snapper this episode was recorded and edited by polar bear and the music is common grind by air tone licensed under creative commons attribution 3.0 and available for download from ccmixter door work if you like the show and find its contents useful and interesting please have covered production and distribution costs with donations to a forward slash pei Blair or libera Paycom forward slash Pei Blair episodes are released every other Wednesday please rate share and subscribe on your chosen listening platform as this helps others find the show for more information visit audio-visual cultures and follow AV cultures on Twitter and Facebook thanks for listening and catch you next time


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