Cy Endfield in Britain: The Exile's Perspective
Queen's University Belfast
(at time of presentation)
Peter Jameson is a recent PhD graduate from Queen’s University Belfast. He is working on a monograph on Joseph Losey and is a contributor to Manchester University Press’ forthcoming collection on British art cinema.
The influence on Hollywood of film industry exiles from Europe to the United States between the two world wars is a well-explored phenomenon. The progress of cinema practitioners travelling in the opposite direction to escape the 1950s blacklist is far less thoroughly documented. Initially, many of them were under pressure to work for scant reward on genre pieces churned out by British studios grateful to import some bargain-priced American expertise. A few filmmakers among them managed to develop more autonomous and personal careers, but observing their work in the early, restrained setting reveals interesting perspectives on mid-century Britain. Rebecca Prime’s recently published Hollywood Exiles in Europe: The Blacklist and Cold War Film Culture (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2014) examines these émigrés and the critique of American values bubbling under the surface of their films. This paper takes as a case study the director Cy Endfield, examining instead his exile’s view of post-war Britain, viewed through the prism of the routine thriller and crime drama.