Silver Sirens

The Golden Age of British Cinema

By Richard Williams. Updated: 21st February, 2015.

  • Glennis Lorimer as the famous Gainsborough Lady, in the main title for Gainsborough Pictures
  • The famous gong of J. Arthur Rank
  • Ealing Studios
  • Associated British Picture Corporation
  • Two Cities Films
  • Associated Talking Pictures
  • London Films

British cinema during the 1940s enjoyed a golden age as wartime film-makers found a new freedom to reflect the national mood, producing works of unparalleled ambition and boldness.

Audiences turned to Ealing comedy films, escapist melodrama - often from Gainsborough Pictures - and World War II propaganda.

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Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons attend the Golden Globe Awards at Ciro's nightclub in Los Angeles, CA.  21st February, 1952.
Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons at Golden Globe Awards
Photograph from Look Before You Love with Griffith Jones and Margaret Lockwood
Look Before You Love
Charles (Griffith Jones) pours champagne for Ann (Margaret Lockwood)
Now look Roman... says Pamela Mason, as she prepares to snap an off-stage picture of husband James Mason, dressed in his toga for MGM's Julius Caesar.  William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar stars Marlon Brando as Mark Antony, James Mason as Brutus, John Gielgud as Cassius, Louis Calhern as Caesar, Edmond O'Brien as Casca, Greer Garson as Calpurnia and Deborah Kerr as Portia.  The picture was directed by Joesph L. Mankiewicz and produced by John Houseman.
Pamela Mason photographs husband James Mason on set of Julius Caesar
Who could refuse "the perfect woman"?  Stanley Holloway smiles gallantly while offering the remaining cake on the plate to co-star Patricia Roc, who plays the title role in The Perfect Woman.  An off-set shot from The Perfect Woman, the Two Cities film version of the successful comedy starring Patrica Roc with Stanley Holloway and Nigel Patrick, produced by George and Alfred Black, and directed by Bernard Knowles at Denham.
The Perfect Woman
Stanley Holloway offers Patricia Roc tea and cake in The Perfect Woman
The premiere of the latest Kenneth More comedy Next to No Time will be held on the world's greatest liner Queen Elizabeth at Southampton, and the film loads were taken by special train from Waterloo today.  Much of the film is shot aboard the liner.  Photo shows: Top to bottom: John Gregson, Phyllis Calvert and Janet Scott leave for the premiere.
Off for film premiere on liner | John Gregson, Phyllis Calvert
British film star Jean Simmons explores the history of the famous country house, Blenheim Palace, as she prepares to play the role of the Duchess of Marlborough in the forthcoming production of Soldier of Love.
Jean Simmons explores the history of Blenheim Palace
Veteran British film and stage star Margaret Lockwood blows out fifty candles on her birthday cake as her co-star in the play, An Ideal Husband, Roger Livesey, looks on
Margaret Lockwood blows out 50 birthday cake candles | Roger Livesey
Margaret Lockwood visits Luton on February 16, 1948 to see the town at work and is greeted at the Town Hall by the mayor, Cllr W.J. Edwards, before she visits Skefko, Vauxhall and Electrolux and two cinemas – the Odeon in Dunstable Road and the Palace in Mill Street, whose manager, Mr S. Davey, had arranged the tour.  Alongside her is photographer George Gurney, who joined the Luton News in 1930 and retired in 1969. George and his trilby hat were well known around town as he covered thousands of events.
Margaret Lockwood pays a visit to Luton Town Hall in 1948
Making the most of the warm weather, Jean Kent, lovely J. Arthur Rank Organisation star, shortly to be seen in Gainsborough's Good Time Girl, sun-bathed on Brighton beach and later took a quick dip.
Jean Kent, J. Arthur Rank star, sunbathes on Brighton beach
Opening credits from Warn That Man (1943). Gordon Harker and Raymond Lovell.
Warn That Man
Warn That Man (1943) - Main Title. Gordon Harker and Raymond Lovell
German Lobby Card from Das Geheimnis Der Drei Dschunken [Code Name Alpha] (1965).  Michael Scott (Stewart Granger) sits cross-legged on the floor in his dressing gown while he smokes a cigarette holder.  At his feet are a model train set and a glass tumbler of whisky.
Code Name Alpha
Das Geheimnis Der Drei Dschunken Lobby Card - Stewart Granger - German
Life magazine with Jean Simmons.  9th October, 1950.  Cover reads: "Busiest actress Jean Simmons".
Life magazine - Jean Simmons - October 1950
Joan Greenwood as Peggy Macroon smiles as she relaxes contentedly on the beach in Whisky Galore!
Whisky Galore!
Joan Greenwood as Peggy Macroon relaxes on the beach in Whisky Galore!
Jean Simmons and Stewart Granger star in the Victorian melodrama Footsteps in the Fog
Footsteps in the Fog
Jean Simmons and Stewart Granger star in Footsteps in the Fog
Agatha Christie's latest "whodunnit" play, "Towards Zero" had 99½ per cent of its audience guessing right until the last scene at its first night performance at St James's Theatre this week. In the audience were the Marquess of Headfort and his sister, Lady Millicent Taylour, Sir Louis and Lady Sterling, actor Jack Buchanan, actresses Elizabeth Allen and Margaret Lockwood. Said Miss Christie: "I'm suffering agonies of first-night nerves. I always do". The play was a great success. Picture shows:- Actress Margaret Lockwood joins authoress Agatha Christie for refreshment during an interval at the St James's Theatre in London.
Time off from Agatha Christie's Latest "Whodunnit" - Margaret Lockwood

Coming Soon on DVD and Blu-ray

Pacific Destiny (1956) [DVD]
Pacific Destiny DVD from from Network and The British Film.  Features Denholm Elliott as Arthur Grimble and Susan Stephen as Olivia Grimble

Due out Monday
Price: £7.25
Buy Pacific Destiny from

Experiences of a British colonial servant in the South Seas.
Featuring: Pacific Destiny.

No Trees In The Street (1958) [DVD]
No Trees In The Street DVD from Network and The British Film.  Features Sylvia Syms as Hetty.

16th March, 2015
Price: £7.25
Buy No Trees In The Street from

Problems of a London slum family in the thirties.
Featuring: No Trees in the Street.

Justice - The Complete Third Series (1971) [DVD]
Justice DVD - The Complete Third Series from Network (2015).  Features Margaret Lockwood and Anthony Valentine.

20th April, 2015
Price: £28.75
Buy Justice - The Complete Third Series from

Lady barrister Harriet Peterson tackles cases in London.
Featuring: Justice.

Recent DVD & Blu-ray Releases

Circle of Danger (1951) [DVD]
Circle of Danger DVD from Network and The British Film.  Features Ray Milland, Patricia Roc and David E. Rose.

23rd February, 2015
Price: £7.25
Buy Circle of Danger from

An American in England investigates the strange death some years earlier of his brother during a commando raid.
Featuring: Circle of Danger.

Warn That Man (1943) [Blu-ray]
Warn That Man Blu-ray from Network and The British Film. Features Gordon Harker, Jean Kent, Raymond Lovell and Finlay Currie.

16th February, 2015
Price: £14.99
Buy Warn That Man from

German spies pose as an English nobleman and his staff but are routed by an unexpected guest.
Featuring: Warn That Man.

Silent Dust (1949) [DVD]
Silent Dust DVD from Network and The British Film.  Features Stephen Murray, Nigel Patrick, Derek Farr and Sally Gray.

16th February, 2015
Price: £7.25
Buy Silent Dust from

A baronet builds a memorial to his son who has apparently been killed in action, but the son turns up and proves to be an absolute bounder.
Featuring: Silent Dust.

» See all DVDs and Blu-ray releases.