Chapter

‘What made you put that rubbish on?’: national trends in film popularity

Robert James

in Popular Culture and Working-Class Taste in Britain, 1930-39

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780719080258
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702444 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719080258.003.0005
‘What made you put that rubbish on?’: national trends in film popularity

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This chapter establishes national trends in film popularity among the working class in 1930s Britain. Based on results from a number of film-popularity surveys in two major film fan magazines, Film Weekly and Picturegoer, a number of indicators are obtained. Comedy films fared extremely well, especially during the early part of the decade. Other film genres also fared extremely well. Dramatic films were very well represented. American-produced films held more appeal with the majority of the cinema-going public than those films produced in Britain. The results rather skew the evidence regarding audience taste and could be regarded as an accurate reflection of the hard-cash judgement of the box-office. Significantly, cinema proprietors had identified marked changes in film fashions during the course of the year. The range of musical films on the list was the result of a keen interest during the first few months of the year only. Their appeal diminished as the year progressed, and open-air romances did well in the summer months. These were superseded by laughter-making films and detective stories at the year's close. There had been a steadily increasing demand for British films as the year progressed. Such reports reveal the often quite extreme fluctuations in audience tastes.

Keywords: national trends; film fan magazines; film popularity; working class; audience tastes

Chapter.  11200 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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