Mass-Observation at the Movies

Source: Jeffrey Richards and Dorothy Sheridan (eds.), Mass-Observation at the Movies (London/New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987), p. 229.

Text: Commercial traveller, aged 35, Leamington Spa.

Once per month I go to the films. This is when my car is greased at a neighbouring garage, and I find it convenient to sit in the warmth and comfort of a cinema until the operation is complete. I cannot remember 6 films I have seen, I saw Dear Octopus this week. I liked it. I had not one damned Yankee accent in the whole film. The usual strident idiocies of Hollywood were absent. I did not, as usual, feel like vomiting. And even the news short did not as usual give the impression that Americans only were fighting the Germans. If you want an opinion about films you will have to go to others. My opinions are perhaps illinformed [sic], but they are definite, if given vent to, they make me swear.

Comment: Mass-Observation carried out a series of studies in 1930s and 1940s into how people in the UK lived, through a mixture of observation, diaries and invited comments. This comment comes from a directive issued in November 1943 asking the question ‘What films have you liked best during the past year? Please list six films in order of liking and give your reasons for liking them.’ Dear Octopus was a British film, made in 1943, based on the play by Dodie Smith.

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