British Cinemas and their Audiences

Source: J.P. Mayer, British Cinemas and their Audiences: Sociological Studies (London: Dennis Dobson, 1948), p. 123

Text: AGE: 16 SEX: F
OCCUPATION: ASSISTANT LIBRARIAN NATIONALITY: BRITISH
FATHER’S OCCUPATION: BUILDER MOTHER’s OCCUPATION: HOUSEWIFE

I first became interested in films when I left school at the age of 14 years. I gave up most of the games I was so fond of. Such as Netball and shinty. I took up a position in a small library to begin with and I have succeeded to better myself within the last month.

At first I used to like a Detective film, but I soon grew tired and uninterested in them. A musical, ‘did something to me’, and as soon as I had seen one I felt lively. That was up to my 15th year. This last year has been wonderful in my film world. I visit the cinema not less than twice every week, and I have found myself keeping a record of every Picture I’ve seen since this year 1945 began.

I like a film to laugh and cry about, such as Love Story starring Stewart Granger. The Seventh Cross with Spencer Tracy and Signe Hasso, Days of Glory with Gregory Peck. The Climax with Susanna Foster and Tur[h]an Bey, and Old Aquaintance with Bette Davis and 30 Seconds Over Tokyo with Van Johnson.

As a very little girl I used to visit the cinema with my youngest brother who is five years my senior. We used to play scenes from gangster films, until we grew tired. Even now we still take a great interest in discussing our dislikes and likes together. My friends and I used to have concerts but no one took an interest to organise us
properly.

I saw Sonjy [sic] Henie many times and each time, I used to come home, put on my roller skates, and skate until I had my hearts content. I can not say I have been frightened by any Picture, but I find the love scenes holding my attention and longing to have a boy friend after the style of Gregory Peck or Van Johnson.

I hate girls who giggle and I often find myself immitating [sic] the Haughty laughter of Bette Davis.

I once fell in love with Alan Ladd only to find that he was married and has a child and possibly children by now.

If I go out with a boy it sometimes gets on my nerves because he does not say nice things as Robert Taylor probably would. When Ive seen a Susanna Foster film I feel like singing just like her. I have often wanted to be away from home in one of the services, such as being a nurse, but I am too young.

In other words, ‘I’m just an in-between’.

When I look at my friends I often feel bored especially the girls; their favourite conversation is about their new hat or dress.

I have always wanted to have my voice trained and be a singer like Deanna Durbin or Susanna Foster.

I shall probably end up in the same old town, but I don’t want to really.

Comments: J.P. (Jacob Peter) Mayer was a German sociologist at the London School of Economics. His British Cinemas and their Audiences collates motion picture autobiographies submitted through competitions in Picturegoer magazine. This contribution comes from the section ‘Films and the Pattern of Life’. Contributors were asked to trace the history of their interest in films, the influence films had on them (including if they were ever frightened by films), what they imitated from films, if films made them more receptive to love-making, if films made them want to travel or to be dissatisfied with their way of life or neighbourhood, and if films gave them vocational ambitions.

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