University of Exeter Press

The B&C Kinematograph Company and British Cinema

Early Twentieth-Century Spectacle and Melodrama

      This book sheds new light on the under-researched period of early British cinema through an in-depth history of the British and Colonial Kinematograph Company—also known as ‘B&C’—in the years 1908–1916, the period when it became one of Britain’s leading film producers. It provides an account of its films and personalities, and explores its production methods, business practices and policy changes.

      Gerry Turvey examines the range of short film genres B&C manufactured, including newsworthy topicals and comics, and series dramas, and how they often drew on the resources of urban Britain’s existing popular culture—from cheap reading matter to East End melodramas. He discusses B&C’s first open-air studio in East Finchley, its extensive use of location filming, and its large, state-of-the-art studio at Walthamstow. He also investigates how the films were photographed and ‘staged’, their developing formal properties, and how the choice of genres shifted radically over time in an attempt to seek new audiences.

      DOI: https://doi.org/10.47788/SGOE1157

      B&C was one of the most enterprising and successful British film studios of the 1910s, but less than 10% of its films have survived, and none of its business records were preserved. This book is consequently particularly impressive and valuable for the way that it manages to reconstruct this lost chapter of British cinema history in such fastidious detail.

      Jon Burrows, University of Warwick

      Turvey’s latest book is an expertly piloted powerhouse-on-wheels that fairly rattles through story after story from cinema’s formative years. Along the way it rampages through such territories as class-specific cultural tradition, film industry business practice, media evolution, film technology, creative roles, genre, publicity and film form. It applies and tests scholarly models, overturns received wisdom, positively fountains evidence (both previously unknown and previously under-used) and identifies patterns galore; its passage leaves the ground of early cinema history yet more fertile.

      Dr Andrew Shail, Senior Lecturer in Film, Newcastle University

      List of Figures

      List of Tables

      INTRODUCTION
      Rediscovering British and Colonial

      PART I: BRITISH AND COLONIAL—A COMPANY HISTORY, 19081918

      The Bloomfield Years: Period One at B&C, 1908–1912

      McDowell in Charge: Period Two at B&C, 1913–1918

      PART II: PLANT, STUDIOS AND THE PRODUCTION PROCESS

      Making Films at East Finchley and on Location, 1911–1914

      The Endell Street Plant and the Walthamstow Studio, 1913–1917

      PART III: PERSONALITIES AND THEIR BIOGRAPHIES

      On Screen: Performers and Picture-Personalities

      Behind the Screen: Policy-Makers, Directors and Writers

      PART IV: THE B&C FILM

      Comics, Dramas and Series Films: The B&C Film in Period One

      Spectacle, Sensation and Narrative: The B&C Film in Period Two

      PART V: DISTRIBUTION, PROMOTION AND PUBLICITY

      From the Open Market to the Exclusives System

      Promoting B&C and its Films

      CONCLUSION

      Godal, Aspiration and Bankruptcy: Period Three at B&C, 1918–1924

      Notes

      Bibliography 

      Index

      Gerry Turvey has been involved in film education since the 1960s, including a Principal Lectureship in Film Studies at Kingston University, and a long association with the Phoenix Cinema Trust in North London. He continues to research early film.

      ISBN
        DOI https://doi.org/10.47788/SGOE1157
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