Censorship and the Permissive Society: British Cinema and Theatre, 1955-1965

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Stage or film presentations of Look Back in Anger, A Taste of Honey, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alfie, and Darling were much changed, even transformed, by censorship between 1955-1965. Censorship and the Permissive Society explores the predicament writers and directors faced, and highlights the debate over the liberalizing or progressive aspects of the sea changes affecting British society at the time. A key decade in the postwar social and cultural history of Britain, the period saw the country emerge from the 'doldrums era' of the fifties, to the permissive society of the 'swinging sixties'. A noticeable move towards 'decensorship' increasingly loosened the traditional constraints imposed on literature, stage, and films. Anthony Aldgate shows, however, that censorship altered the progression of the artistic and creative renaissance of this period, and how the process brought changes in the works of writers such as John Osborne, Shelagh Delaney, Alan Sillitoe, John Braine, Frederic Raphael, and Keith Waterhouse, and directors such as Tony Richardson, Lindsay Anderson, John Schlesinger, and Lewis Gilbert. Drawing upon a mass of recently released or hitherto unseen documentation - including records, files, and photographs from the British Board of Film Censors and the Lord Chamberlain's Office - Anthony Aldgate charts the impact of the censorship process between 1955 and 1965 upon playwrights and directors, many of whom endured the rigorous, sometimes rancorous, though often also fruitful, scrutiny of the film and theatre censors.

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About the author (1995)

Anthony Aldgate is Senior Lecturer in History and Sub Dean in Arts at the Open University. He is also Visiting Professor at the University of Luton, and Associate Tutor to Kellogg College, Oxford.

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