University of Sussex
Smith, Adrian John.pdf (15.68 MB)

The distribution and exploitation of popular European film in British cinemas, 1960 – 1975

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posted on 2023-06-09, 13:52 authored by Adrian Smith
The history of British cinema is often approached from the perspective of charting and analysing the history of British film production, taking in the contribution made by directors, actors, writers and studios. In this thesis I assert that a history of British cinema ought to take into consideration what was being presented to British audiences in cinemas. During this period independent distributors imported hundreds of European films into the UK to fill the constant need cinemas had for new product, a need which could not be met from Hollywood or the British film industry alone. This thesis focuses on specific popular genres; the peplum, or sword-and-sandal film, the Eurospy thriller and sexploitation. The latter is further divided into loose sub-genres; the prostitution drama, the “Mondo” documentary and the sex education film. Taking the lead from the New Film History and the work of Sarah Street in document analysis, material is used from several different archives to reveal information about the practices of these chosen distributors, which enables an original view on the way independent distribution worked in the 1960s and 1970s. Oral history interviews with people who either worked in the sector or who had direct contact with the distributors under discussion are also included, offering new information and historical data. These interviews provide a unique insight into a part of the film industry which has otherwise been neglected by official histories of British cinema. Analysis of some of the key texts has also taken place, in order to present a wider understanding of the genres and the way the marketing material and exploitation techniques often served to misrepresent the texts themselves. Issues around Imperialism and Orientalism have been explored in relation to some of these texts to contextualise the genres under discussion. The findings of this thesis demonstrate that, for historians, the field is still open to new areas of research.


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  • Media and Film Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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