A Social History of the Cinema in Wales, 1918-1951
Pulpits, Coal Pits, and Fleapits
Distributed for University of Wales Press
The ‘golden age’ of cinema entertainment may have passed, yet it continues to linger in popular memory. The leading Hollywood stars of the 1930s and 1940s continue to attract the interest of biographers and the films of the period are now widely available in video and DVD formats.
Peter Miskell explains why people went to the cinema in the numbers they did, what type of cinemas they went to, and what sort of experience they had there. The book reveals for the first time how Welsh society more generally responded to the remarkable poularity of this largely American form of entertainment. Was the cinema’s appeal an unmistakable indication of the growing secularism, and ‘Americanization’, of Welsh society in the twentieth century: or was the consumption of, and response to, Hollywood entertainment reflective of a distinctly Welsh cultural identity?
The book focuses on the culture of film-going that existed during the cinema’s heyday. The long queues outside the picture houses, the reputation of the local fleapit, the relative opulence of the town centre ‘super-cinemas’ and the value of cinemas as places where courting couples could meet, were all things that film-goers of the 1930s and 1940s remember as vividly as the films themselves. This aspect of popular experience, however, is less often written about, and has never been comprehensively examined in Wales.
Part I: Social-Economic Context of Film-Going in Wales1. Consumers 2. Cinemas 3. Companies and Employees
Part II: Film-Going as Popular Culture4. Cinema’s Appeal 5. Cinema Entertainment
Part III: Responses to Film-Going in Wales6. Critics 7. Censorship and Control