'England's Apollo' : Ivor Novello - post-war icon, matinee-idol and 'ambassador of the British film'.
Drawing extensively from empirical research into British film fan magazines such as
Picture Show and Picturegoer, this thesis demonstrates how such secondary media
were crucial in shaping Novello's star persona and the ways in which nuanced
references to Art History, Philosophy and Classical Greek iconography and myths
informed his iconography. Juxtaposing such eclectic influences with textual analysis
of his films themselves, I argue that Novello's most singular stardom in the twenties --
an extension of the fame he achieved through his composition of one of defining
songs of the war, `Keep the Home Fires Burning' -- is founded on a historically specific
and, in the broadest sense, queer appeal to the disparate elements of his mass
audience. This appeal, I demonstrate, engages with a range of contemporary
discourses around nostalgia, sexuality and the symptoms of war-trauma. I argue that
in the films of Ivor Novello we apprehend an essentially modern, quite paradoxical
and sometimes disturbing product of his time, rather than the anachronistic, histrionic
figure presented thus far by critics.