Cinema was one of the Cold War's most powerful instruments of propaganda. Movies blended with literary, theatrical, musical and broadcast representations of the conflict to produce a richly textured Cold War culture. Now in paperback, this timely book fills a significant gap in the international story by uncovering British cinema's contribution to Cold War propaganda and to the development of a popular consensus on Cold War issues. Tony Shaw focuses on an age in which the 'first Cold War' dictated international (and to some extent domestic) politics. This era also marked the last phase of cinema's dominance as a mass entertainment form in Britain. Shaw explores the relationship between film-makers, censors and Whitehall, within the context of the film industry's economic imperatives and the British government's anti-Soviet and anti-Communist propaganda strategies. Drawing upon rich documentation, he demonstrates the degree of control exerted by the state over film output.
Shaw analyses key films of the period, including High Treason, which put a British McCarthyism on celluloid; the fascinatingly ambiguous science fiction thriller The Quatermass Experiment; the dystopic The Damned, made by one of Hollywood's blacklisted directors, Joseph Losey; and the CIA-funded, animated version of George Orwell's novel "Animal Farm". The result is a deeply probing study of how Cold War issues were refracted through British films, compared with their imported American and East European counterparts, and how the British public received this 'war propaganda'.
TONY SHAW is Reader in International History at the University of Hertfordshire. His publications include Eden, Suez and the Mass Media: Propaganda and Persuasion during the Suez Crisis (I.B.Tauris). He is currently working on two projects: an account of Hollywood's propaganda role during the Cold War, and a history of British government propaganda during the Cold War.