Jack Buchanan and British Musical Comedy of the 1930s

Andrew Spicer

in Film's Musical Moments

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623440
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651115 | DOI:
Jack Buchanan and British Musical Comedy of the 1930s

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This chapter considers the relationship between performance and star persona in the films of Jack Buchanan, one of Britain's most successful male stars of the period. Buchanan dominated the interwar period, establishing himself as an international icon through his musical comedies on stage and screen. Focusing on the way in which the crossing of social barriers in order to romance a heroine from a different class was a regular trope in the British films of the 1930s, the chapter argues that such stories offered audiences fantasies of success and social esteem without overtly challenging the status quo. The debonair, upper-class ‘man-about-town’ was an important figure in British popular culture during the interwar period but, surprisingly, continued to appear well into the post-war years up to the early 1960s, despite the emergence of youth culture in the 1950s. Moreover, Buchanan's star persona was remarkably consistent throughout his career and was strikingly close to his presence as an actor.

Keywords: Jack Buchanan; star persona; Britain; musical comedies; films; social barriers; social esteem; man-about-town; popular culture; youth culture

Chapter.  5872 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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