English Filming, English Writing

English Filming, English Writing

Jefferson Hunter
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/05/2010
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22177-3
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A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2010

Jefferson Hunter examines English films and television dramas as they relate to English culture in the 20th century. He traces themes such as the influence of U.S. crime drama on English film, and film adaptations of literary works as they appear in screen work from the 1930s to the present. A Canterbury Tale and the documentary Listen to Britain are analyzed in the context of village pageants and other wartime explorations of Englishness at risk. English crime dramas are set against the writings of George Orwell, while a famous line from Noel Coward leads to a discussion of music and image in works like Brief Encounter and Look Back in Anger. Screen adaptation is also broached in analyses of the 1985 BBC version of Dickens’s Bleak House and Merchant-Ivory’s The Remains of the Day.

Author Bio

A former department chair and director of film studies, Jefferson Hunter is the Helen and Laura Shedd Professor of English and Film Studies at Smith College. He teaches courses in modern literature and film. His previous publications include Edwardian Fiction; Image and Word: The Interaction of Twentieth-Century Photographs and Texts; and How to Read Ulysses, and Why.


“This beautifully written book shows the interplay between English films, television dramas and culture in the 20th century, tracing themes such as the influence of U.S. crime drama on English film, and film adaptations of literary works as they appear in screen work from the 1930s to the present. ”

“Beautifully written . . . surprising and persuasive . . . but never in the sort of language that might deter the non-specialist.”
 — Brian McFarlane, Monash University

“Hunter draws attention to some works that have received little critical attention and traces the cultural influences and inflections that make them work. . . . This book provides a fascinating contribution to studies of British cinema but also opens out into much broader concerns regarding national cultures.”
 — Jim Leach, Brock University

“A substantive, seductive, charming piece of work, this book is a paradigm of good sense and clarity—neither pedantic nor trendy. . . . Highly recommended. November 2010”
 — Choice

“. . . ambitious and expansive . . . .2/18/11”
 — Lucy Scholes, TLS - Times Literary Supplement

“I recommend this book to those who take pleasure in cinema; I prescribe it to those who need to learn how to write about the aesthetics of cinema, not the ideology of culture.Issue 30 - 2011”
 — Screening the Past

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Table of Contents


Introduction: By Way of Hanif Kureishi and Stephen Frears
1. Wartime Pageantry
The Archers on Pilgrimage
Screen Processions and Village Pageants
The Documentary Pageant: Jennings's Listen to Britain
2. American Gangsters, English Crime Films, and Dennis Potter
George Orwell versus James Hadley Chase
Contending with America
In Search of an English Crime Film
The Singing Detective as Summa Criminologica
3. Two Texts to Screen
How to Adapt Dickens, and How Not to Do It
Ishiguro and Merchant-Ivory, Upstairs and Downstairs
4. The Strange Potencies of Music
Rawsthorne and Rachmaninoff
Rolling Out the Barrel, Looking Up and Laughing
Distant Voices and Lip-Synched Lives
Conclusion: By Way of Tony Harrison and Alan Bennett


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