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Title: In the background of a chorus of raspberries : British film comedy 1929-1939
Author: Sutton, David Redvers
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 1997
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A study of the nature and history of the comedy genre in British cinema over the decade 1929-1939. The account begins by considering the critical marginalisation of comedy in constructions of ’British cinema’ since the 1920s, before proceeding to a consideration of the problems of theorising comedy as a genre. British screen comedy is considered as part of a wider, cross-media ’popular aesthetic’, with reference to Bakhtin’s ideas of the ’novelistic’,and its roots in pre-cinematic entertainment forms are explored. On this basis a model of 1930s comedy as a non-classical, ’attraction’ based cinema is put forward, accounting for its seemingly aberrant and heterogeneous qualities, qualified by considerations of generic verisimilitude and institutional constraints. The pre-history of the genre is discussed, and the impact of non-cinematic forms and modes of performance stressed. A consideration of the impact of sound technology and government legislation on 1930s British cinema helps to define both the type of comedies made and the prevalence of comic modes in the British cinema of the time. A case is made for comedy as both the most widely produced and most consistently successful British genre of the 1930s. The films themselves are then examined in a series of studio histories which examine the stars, directors and writers involved in their production. A detailed look at a representative body of films reveals the extremely wide range covered by the genre, and the differences of emphasis and style created by diverse performers. The ways in which comedy is able to articulate central discourse of British cinema, such as those pertaining to class, gender and sexuality. in uniquely contradictory ways is linked to its particular formal qualities, its relationship to other genres and media, and its subaltern status within the paradigms of both British and ’classical’ cinemas.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available