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British Film Culture in the 1970s

The Boundaries of Pleasure

Sue Harper, Justin Smith

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This volume draws a map of British film culture in the 1970s and provides a wide-ranging history of the period. It examines the cross-cultural relationship between British cinema and other media, including popular music and television. The analysis covers mainstream and experimental film cultures, identifying their production contexts and the economic, legislative and censorship constraints on British cinema throughout the decade.

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Part I: 'Contexts'
1. Film Policy
2. Censorship
3. Artists' film and video and avant-garde practice
4. Art Direction in British Cinema
5. Film in Education
6. Black Britain in film and TV
7. Television
8. Popular music film and youth culture
Part II
9. Key players
10. Boundaries and taboos
11. Technical Innovation and visual style
12. Audiences and reception
13. Social Space
14. Media crossovers
Conclusion: innovation, film culture and cultural memory.

About the Author

Sue Harper is Emeritus Professor of Film History at the University of Portsmouth. She is a cultural historian who has written widely on British cinema, and made numerous appearances on radio and television. She was the Principal Investigator on the 1970s AHRC-funded project, '1970s British Cinema, Film and Video: Mainstream and Counter-Culture' (2006-2009).

Justin Smith is Reader in British Film Culture at the University of Portsmouth where he is also Post-Graduate Tutor in the School of Creative Arts, Film and Media. He is the author of Withnail and Us: Cult Films and Film Cults in British Cinema (I. B. Tauris, 2010) and, with Sue Harper, British Film Culture in the 1970s: The Boundaries of Pleasure (Edinburgh University Press, 2011). He was a Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project 1970s British Cinema, Film and Video: Mainstream and Counter-Culture (2006-2009), ; he is currently Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project ‘Channel 4 Television and British Film Culture’ (2010-2014), . A cultural historian with a special interest in British cinema, his research interests embrace production, reception and exhibition practices, film fandom, and issues of cultural identity and popular memory.


British Film Culture in the 1970s is an invigorating read, bold in its scope and imaginative in its organisation and methodology... This is a study of great richness and depth, intellectually risk-taking and provocative. It not only redefines our understanding of the 1970s, but also the task of the film historian, moving decisively away from the study of a body of films to a broader engagement with the complexity of film culture whose boundaries are constantly shifting and being redefined. For both those reasons, it should become essential reading.

- Andrew Spicer, University of the West of England, Journal of British Cinema and Television