Corrupted, Tormented and Damned: Reframing British Exploitation Cinema and The films of Robert Hartford-Davis

Ahmed, Michael (2013) Corrupted, Tormented and Damned: Reframing British Exploitation Cinema and The films of Robert Hartford-Davis. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The American exploitation film functioned as an alternative to mainstream Hollywood cinema, and served as a way of introducing to audiences shocking, controversial themes, as well as narratives that major American studios were reluctant to explore. Whereas American exploitation cinema developed in parallel to mainstream Hollywood, exploitation cinema in Britain has no such historical equivalent. Furthermore, the definition of exploitation, in terms of the British industry, is currently used to describe (according to the Encyclopedia of British Film) either poor quality sex comedies from the 1970s, a handful of horror films, or as a loosely fixed generic description dependent upon prevailing critical or academic orthodoxies. However, exploitation was a term used by the British industry in the 1960s to describe a wide-ranging and eclectic variety of films – these films included, ―kitchen-sink dramas‖, comedies, musicals, westerns, as well as many films from Continental Europe and Scandinavia. Therefore, the current description of an exploitation film in Britain has changed a great deal from its original meaning. Moreover, the films currently described as exploitation films include not only low budget independent films but also films made by large filmmaking companies like the Rank Organisation.
The filmmaker Robert Hartford-Davis, whose career spans the 1960s, is frequently described as a director of British exploitation films. How can Hartford-Davis‘ films help us to identify and understand the role of these films which are perceived as outside of the cultural mainstream, and how do these films fit into the narrative of British cinema? Hartford-Davis‘ films, although now described as exploitation, were made to compete with the rest of the British film industry, unlike American exploitation which was sustained in opposition to Hollywood. Nonetheless, Hartford-Davis‘ films exposes the tension that existed throughout the 1960s, between British low budget independent companies and companies like the Rank Organisation and other larger British film companies. Moreover, Hartford-Davis‘ films throw up wider questions, not only about the definition and meaning of British exploitation films, but also about the accepted narrative of post-war British film culture, as well as the structure of the domestic industry during the 1960s. Furthermore, if the outsider status of British exploitation filmmakers is removed, then perhaps the accepted opposition between the ―quality‖ film and lowbrow film is also considerably blurred, and supported only by an existing critical and academic consensus.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Film and Television Studies (former - to 2012)
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2013 14:14
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2013 14:14


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