University of Portsmouth's History Blog

‘An hour or two of welcome relaxation’: The cinema business in wartime Britain

On 12 January 2022 our own Dr Rob James, Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Social History, presented at the first History research seminar of the new year (Happy New Year everyone!) with a thought-provoking paper on the effect of world war on the cinema trade in Britain. If you missed the paper, the recording is available here (you will need to the password Q64&W$?2).

In the seminar, Rob discussed how, during both the First and Second World War, the film industry was faced with a wide range of challenges that, in the worst-case scenario, threatened its continued existence. Rob explained that cinema trade personnel responded to the challenging wartime circumstances by calling on legislators to support the industry against cuts to staffing and materials, defending the trade against critics who believed that going to the cinema was a frivolous activity that didn’t have a place in wartime, and promoting the pastime as beneficial to the war effort. Rob demonstrated how cinema operators championed the pastime’s benefits as a propaganda source, entertainment medium, and economic commodity in order to protect it and ensure that cinema-goers could continue to enjoy their ‘hour or two of welcome relaxation’ when they needed it.



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One Response to ‘An hour or two of welcome relaxation’: The cinema business in wartime Britain

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