America Through a British Lens

Cinematic Portrayals 1930–2010


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About the Book

 As the British watched their empire crumble and the United States became the dominant world power, many British films warned of the dangers posed by American culture. Americans were frequently portrayed as disconcertingly ambitious, reckless and irreverent. Yet the same films that depicted the U.S. as an agent of chaos also suggested Britons might do well to embrace American-style energy and egalitarianism.
Movies like Love Actually, The Quatermass Xperiment, 28 Weeks Later, Local Hero and Alfred Hitchcock’s Secret Agent have delved into the storied “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K. These films and many more examined in this first book-length study of British movies about America, reveal much about British attitudes regarding power, gender, class, sexuality and emotion.

About the Author(s)

James D. Stone is an associate professor in the Department of Cinematic Arts at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Bibliographic Details

James D. Stone
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9814-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2556-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Preface 1

Introduction: Admitting America to British Life 4

1. “I used to like gangsters and newspaper films, but I’m not so sure now”: The Hollywood Dreams of Jessie Matthews and the British Film Industry 27

2. “But he’s so kind and friendly!” The Mysterious American

in 1930s British Cinema 53

3. Johnny in the Clouds: ­Middle-Class Fantasies of the American G.I. 78

4. “Funny thing about controls, suddenly they go haywire”:

Debating the Necessity of Restraint in Postwar Britain 106

5. “A ­well-intentioned but inexperienced colossus”: British

Cinema, Picture Post and the Redefinition of National

Identity in the Postwar Period 128

6. A World Worth Saving? Redefining National Identity

in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain 155

7. “You’re his little English bitch and you don’t even know it”:

Gendering ­Anglo-American Relations in Post–9/11 British Cinema 170

Chapter Notes 189

Bibliography 199

Index 207