England Prevails

British fascism in the 30s was organized under the person of Oswald Mosley, a strange figure who started as a Conservative, moved left to Labour, then completed almost a full circuit of the political spectrum by founding the British Union of Fascists in 1932. (Today, his greatest legacy is the character of Roderick Spode and his gang of “Black Shorts” in P.G. Wodehouse’s The Code of the Woosters.)

Did fascism make it into British films? Undoubtedly — as you can see by turning your dials to receive The Daily Notebook’s latest broadcast, The Forgotten.

8 Responses to “England Prevails”

  1. Tony Williams Says:

    David, Wasn’t “Sapper” a designation of someone belonging to the Royal Corps of Engineers? Also, the author was H.C. McNeil (sic?) whose son was a friend of the young Dennis Prices. Also, the role of the elder black-garbed Massey in THINGS TO COME as well as the Fuhrer type framing of his son Oslwald at the climax does have Fascist overtones. Jeffrey Richards’ VISIONS OF YESTERDAY (1970) has a good section on Sapper and his novels.

  2. Aside from the Colman film, the Drummonds done in America in the ’30s weren’t exactly big features. They’re also where you first see John Barrymore really slumming.

  3. Yeah, the American Drummonds are definitely Bs — but any series films are Bs by definition until you get to James Bond.

    Tony, I’m sure you’re right re the definition of Sapper. But I like that it also means bludgeon-wielder, which seems to fit. And yes, the shot of Ralph in his Batman outfit is very reminiscent of Things to Come.

  4. Did you read the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier, David?

    Definitely presents a very detailed depiction of the Bulldog Drummond novels’ political attitudes. and yet by the end, you almost feel sorry for him, as he’s replaced by more polished and manipulative evil.

  5. …James Bond. Yes, it’s easy to feel nostalgic for BD’s naive obviousness.

    “Bond had never liked going up against the Chinese. There were too many of them.” — from Goldfinger.

  6. Having only seen the Coleman, once again I’m feeling inadequate. Edward Arnold makes a lovely wanna be dictator in Meet John Doe.

  7. That’s true. And his presence helps us feel that maybe Gary Cooper’s character ISN’T an incipient fascist…

  8. Yes, like using Edward Everett Horton to make Fred Astaire look manlier by comparison. Or maybe not.

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