The cinema 1952 (1952)

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Introduction Someone has got to have the initial idea, and someone has got to work it out as a dramatic story in suitable terms for a film. This volume of The Cinema is dedicated to these indispensable people. Sometimes they are writers by profession who work with the film-makers; sometimes they are the film-makers themselves, who regard the personal preparation of story, treatment, and dialogue as an essential part of their job. When this volume was being planned in the Spring of 1950 we intended to publish the complete script of a new British film. Unfortunately the script we had in mind was not finished in time to meet our printing date in September, so in June we invited a number of film-makers and their production companies to help us choose passages from a selection of British films repre- senting a wide range of subjects. It is interesting to note that the initial stories of these six films originated from two professional screenwriters, a film director, an actor, a dramatist, two novel- ists, and the work of a nineteenth-century author, Charles Dickens. This represents a fair cross-section of the creative origins of our films. We have naturally represented in this volume work which we believe to be good, but from an equally wide range of creative sources come all kinds of stories for the screen, good and bad alike. How many screenplays have something to say, something really funny, something really human, something really sig- nificant? How many of them maintain that revelation of human life both comic and tragic which is the root of what is best and most successful in all dramatic art? The future of the cinema in our belief rests on the invention and the humanity of those people who create the stories and the characters for films. Only quality and originality can save the cinema from a slow form of self-extinction, with peak attendances in the middle years of the century gradually declining as the decades creep by towards a.d. 2000, which, although it looks like a fictional date suitable only for scientific romances, is in fact only forty-eight years from now, with, no doubt, universal tele- vision well established, and who knows what other forms of entertainment in operation or on the way. The cinema has done very nicely during the first half of the century with the field of large-scale public entertainment rela- tively clear for commercial expansion. It has devised adequate entertainment formulae and exploited a successful star system. But neither stars nor formulae alone will be enough in the second half of the century; people have become too familiar with them.