Course overview

Exploring five arguably lesser known classics produced by British film studios Ealing and would be ‘rivals’ Gainsborough, both stalwarts of 1940s and early 1950s cinema. Ealing Studios are still renown for their many now classic comedies produced throughout the 1940s and into the 50s but perhaps the repeated focus on the same films has lead to other equally remarkable classics from their own studio becoming overshadowed. Likewise, a repeated focus on Ealing Studios has perhaps stolen praise from other British studio of the era Gainsborough. This course aims to reinvestigate some of these ‘forgotten’ classics.

Course description

Exploring five often overlooked cinematic works produced by British film studios - Ealing, best remembered for their comedies of the post-war era into the 1950s, and Gainsborough equally noted for their sometimes edgy period melodramas. Gainsborough Studios were founded in 1924 and produced films up to 1951,it was during the 1940s that they became most noteworthy for their costume melodramas featuring a regular stars – James Mason, Margaret Lockwood and Stewart Granger to name a few. Far from stuffy period pieces some of these were rather risqué, attracting the attention of the censors, Gainsborough also providing the firm footing for a young Alfred Hitchcock before his move to Hollywood. Ealing, remembered now for their post-war comedies also produced equally popular more socially aware and historically set films, yet these films now appear overshadowed by their comedies. We explore the aspects of these British films from a particular era considering their appeal now and also looking deeper into their undercurrent of social and political issues. Picking from a varied selection arguably less frequently discussed examples, we examine their appeal then and now. Fanny by Gaslight (1944), The Wicked Lady (1949), Mandy (1955), Champagne Charlie (1953), The Lady Vanishes (1938).

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