One hundred years into the life of cinema, and Hollywood dominates to the extent that all other film output is measured in comparison. India’s huge movie industry plays on the word, thus ‘Bollywood’, while attempts to build a Scottish studio are inevitably dubbed “Hollywood on the Clyde’.
How Kevin Brownlow and David Gill’s six-part documentary on European cinema in the first half of the 20th century is subtitled ‘The Other Hollywood’. Cinema is about more than film production: it’s about marketing, distribution and exhibition, and that’s why the Americans and their studio system had the upper hand from almost the very beginning.
Cinema Europe focuses on four main areas - Germany, Scandinavia, Britain and France - but the series opens and closes with an overview which identifies the two world wars as the key factors affecting the European cinema industry. With extensive use of archive material, the series chronicles the medium from its Parisian birth and celebrates the work of European pioneers such as Fritz Lang and Abel fiance.
However, by the end oi World War I, Europe had lost its commercial power because its world markets had disappeared. Meanwhile, America had strengthened its position by forcing German films from neutral countries’ screens (by threatening to withhold Charlie Chaplin films) and by swamping foreign distribution. When Gennany’s productive UFA studio was faced with financial disaster, its
Cinema Europe: choked by the Hollywood movie machine
survival came at the cost of losing distribution control to MGM and Paramount.
UFA had produced several hit movies that had been made simultaneously in three separate languages - evidence of commerical cohesion that could have formed the basis of a European industry to rival Hollywood, but a death knell was sounding for ‘Cinema Europe’ with the rise of the Third Reich. UFA’s top producer was Erich Pommer, a Jew; the studio’s president was Alfred Hugenberg, also head of the National Socialist party. Even before World War II, the Hazis’ anti- Semitic stance had crushed the medium’s potential.
When the Jews fled, mostly to America and England, Europe’s pool of cinematic knowledge, talent and expertise was splintered. As always, Europe’s loss became Hollywood’s gain. (Alan Morrison)
Cinema Europe begins on Sunday 1 October on 8802.
I Italy Day (Radio 2) Fri 22 Sept.
1 1.30am—7pm. The Radio 2 team don shorts and shades for ltaly Day. broadcasting live from the nation that gave Scotland a chippy on every street corner. The day starts with Jimmy Young in Rome reporting on the rocky road of Italian politics since the War. continues with Debbie Thrower on the tourist trail in Sicily (2.03pm) and ends with an earful of highbrow italian culture (7.30pm) comprising a slice each of Italian opera. ballet. symphony and camivai played by the very un-ltalian but nevertheless excellent. BBC Concert Orchestra.
I From Our Own Correspondent (Radio 4 ) Sat 23 Sept. 11.30am. BBC Foreign Affairs Editor. John Simpson looks back over the 40 years of despatches that have made this radio current affairs show an institution. and looks at the trials and tribulations encountered by some of those BBC correspondents who’ve reported back from the frontlines of world events against all manner of odds.
I Storyline (Radio Scotland) Mon 25 Sept. 1 1.45am. Storyline gets up out of its easy chair and jets off into a week of scribblings on the pleasures and perils of air travel.
I Football Legends (Radio 5 Live) Mon 25 Sept. 7.35pm. Former England captain turned sports commentator. Jimmy Armﬁeld harks back to the days when Gazza crops were but a twinkle in a Geordie barber's eye. with this series dedicated to six of history‘s ﬁttest frtba greats.
I The “Still Suspects (Radio Scotland) Wed 27 Sept. 10.10pm. Pop-star turned cultural spy. Pat Kane hears boat-rocking
feminist writer. Germaine Greer explain the title and content of her latest novel Slip-slim] vails, where she takes a new perspective on the history of female poets from Sappho to Rosseti. '
I First Bite: The Jinx (Radio 4) Thurs 28 Sept. 2.30pm. One in a series of first- timer scripts for radio sprinkled throughout the schedules this month. this debut play from 28-year-old Stirling writer. lain Black carries the unlikely description of being ‘a strip cartoon for radio'.
I Famous for Fifteen Minutes (Radio 4) Sat 30 Sept. 10.45pm. George Lazenby. the Australian male model famous for being really bad as Sean Connery's replacement in the Bond film On Her Majesty '5' Secret Sel’i‘lt‘é’. tells all about his rise and subsequent fall from fame. and his dream that someday. somehow he'll get back into movies.
I Doing the Business: Whoops, I’ve got a lotof Mon-eee! (Radio 1) Sun 1 Oct. 7pm. Stuart Maconie. of Collins and Mucmrie's Hit Parade fame. with a new eight-part series that goes behind the scenes in the music biz to look at topics ranging from sexisrn in the industry to the history of the music press.
I Apache Indian (Radio I) Mon 2 Oct. 9pm. Apache Indian. the man dubbed by the press as ‘the original British bhangramuffrn‘. throws open the doors of his living room for the next six weeks to bring an hour of the best in ragga. bhangra. rap and soul to the nation.
I The Square on the Pythagoras (Radio 4) Wed 4 Oct. 9pm. Brainy maths-type person Benn Silburn proves sums don‘t have to be square in this new series taking a light-hearted romp through the history of numbers. (Ellie Carr)
‘1 had live happy years in the army learning about men and management.‘ said Simon Blackett. the new factor of the lnvercatrld Estate near Br'aemar. He was ‘fresh from England' as the Cutting Edge (Channel 4) documentary ‘Firing Range’ pointed out. immediately casting him as the villain
; of the piece. It seems the officer class
had not prepared him for the strong silent types who made tip the gamekeeping staff of this Scottish shooting estate. At least they had been silent. btrt with a camera crew crawling throught the heather. many of them couldn't resist having their say. This is grouse country. and they were grousing
One man had already received a verbal warning. which strangely came in writing. for condtrct unbecoming a gamekeeper. His offence. he claims. was failing to wear a tie at a meeting with the factor. Breaking rank by talking about it to a television crew would no doubt have provoked another warning. but he‘d already been dismissed by the time the documentary was screened. It would be interesting to know how the others. who spoke openly of low morale and a factor they regarded with contempt. will fair now their grievances have been aired so publicly.
The head keeper Peter Fraser. a dotrr but likeable man. was more circumspect. but the warmth with which he spoke ofthe Laird said. by
; omission. a lot about his attittrde to the
incomer factor who was now effectively his boss. The Laird of Invercauld. Alwyn Farquharsorr. himself an ex-army johnny. now does little more than meet and greet the American visitors who come to shoot stags at £250 a pop. Without an heir. and realising that time and ride of change were overtaking his pooterish attempts at land management. the Laird had put the 125,000 acre estate his family had owned for five centuries in the hands oftrustees. And Blackett was their man. It‘s not the feudalism ofthe laird/tenant relationship the estate workers seemed to object to. but the imposition of an inexperienced toff with little feel for the traditions of the estate.
This documentary inevitably invites comparisons with BBCl 's recent six- patter The Gamekeeper. Apparently lnvercauld had been considered and rejected by the BBC Scotland producer. who chose instead to focus on the Duke of Atholl's bombastic head keeper. The rumbling discontent at lnvercauld would have probably overshadowed this study of the relationship between man and hillside through the changing seasons. It‘s a pity because Peter Fraser's gentle. thoughtful explanations of his work were far more engaging
than The (Ia/trekee/ter‘s central character.
As he freed a dead fox ensnared on a wire fence he said simply: ‘You have got to work in the countryside and see nature in the raw to understand it.‘ Prefix the word ‘nature' with human. and this was advice that factor Simon Blackett might have done well to heed before handing out verbal warnings for dress code violations.
Still in the countryside. though rather less red in tooth arid claw. we head for the North Yorkshire moors where Heartbeat (Scottish) was about to become death rattle. After the emotional high of the birth of the baby. Kate (Niatnh Cusack) has been diagnosed with leukaemia and is fading fast. A nation wads up bales of Kleenex in a naked display of grief. while Nick (Nick Berry) goes all moody about the upheaval in the cottage. We weren‘t after a carpet-chewing display of hysterical grief necessarily. btrt a fleeting look of sadness might not have gone amiss. Evidently another of those strong. silent types.
The absurdity of this episode was heightened beyond satire by a sub-plot about a village idiot intent on syphoning offthe entire village‘s supply of petrol. Fortunately Nick nicked him shortly after Kate was laid to rest ‘neath Yorkshire's fertile sod.
At least the funeral gave its the chance to see why Nick's looked so pained all these episodes — his dear old rntrvva. up from London. She‘s called Ruby. of course. and the term blowsy is not an adequate description. Hard not to be reminded of Barbara Windsor. whose cleavage now rests on the bar of Nick‘s erstwhile local in [:‘rrsrlfm/ers. No wonder he ﬂed Walford for the country.
From roughly the same manor is Steven Berkoff whose range of actoriy gn'maces is as wide as Nick Berry's is narrow. So who better to kick off BIOW Your Mind (Channel 4). a new season intended to bring the joy of drama to television viewers. without the chore of going to the theatre. Berkoff‘s technique is to pin you to your seat with that strange unseeing eye which sprouts from his forehead while unleashing a virtuoso display of the actor‘s craft.
in a fragment from his own play (fast. Berkoff conjures up the smells and the shop-soiled sights of a London market with a performance that made Wilfred Brambell‘s Steptoe the elder seem restrained. And why does he do this? Well. mostly because he can — berking off. you might call it. But ifyou could be guaranteed performances this energetic at the theatre. more people would be persuaded to trade in Berry for Berkoff. (Eddie Gibb)
‘ 80 The List 22 Sept-5 Oct 1995