Why Was Cinema Going So Popular

3023 Words 13 Pages
Frances Connolly Year 1 Modern Britain Linda Polley 16th May 2006

Essay

Why was cinema going so popular in the first half of the century and why did it decline after 1950?

Both the rise in popularity of cinema going and its spectacular decline are not only well documented and discussed, but surprisingly, have generated little general disagreement among historians. Eddie Dyja states categorically that cinema popularity is easily explained, ‘it is cheap accessible and glamorous’1. Where as most of the blame for the decline is attributed to the advent of television. Each
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The early small ‘flee pits’ where local communities gathered to socialise, Marwick suggests that ‘eating, dozing and, for young couples courting, were all part of the experience’5. Behaviour was somewhat less than decorous; it was accepted practice for audiences to shout at the screen and across the auditorium, making it a much more interactive experience. The films either in the silent era or the early talkies showed a world that the average working class audience could not know about any other way. Even when the images were idealised and less than accurate they provided a glamorous escape from the reality of poverty. When the ‘dream palaces’ typified by the Odeon cinemas built by Birmingham Businessman Oscar Deutsch began to replace these small local cinemas they simply added to the glamour of the occasion by providing atmosphere from the moment a person entered the building. Film choice was a similarly crucial indicator of the reasons people went to the ‘pictures’. The most popular films were in general the American imports. The industry there had expanded exponentially, the studio system created by the major studio owners and the huge home audiences allowed for the production of big budget high quality films on a tremendous scale. The studios spent vast amounts of time and money marketing not only their films but their stars. Creating a culture of stars, Hollywood royalty …show more content…
The British film industry at this time was experiencing a ‘golden age’; its films were well received and more critically successful then ever before. However the picture was something of a mirage. During the late twenties the financial situation for British production companies was so dire that production was all but at a standstill. In an attempt to bolster the industry The Cinematographers Trade Bill was introduced in 1927, in essence it was a quota system whereby owners were forced to show at first five percent (rising as high as forty five per later), British films in their theatres.9 In practice what happened was that the British production companies had neither the money nor the infrastructure to produce sufficient good quality films. They made terrible film which in turn gave the American studios the excuse and the opportunity to buy up or into British companies. Films could then be made in Britain using British talent using American money which could be shown within the quota system as British. This did have the short term effect of supporting the British film industry but drained revenues out of the country. So when the Americans hit problems as happened after the war there was no way of filling the

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