Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-x5gtn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-19T11:14:40.963Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

15 - Cinema

from PART III - WRITING AND THE ARTS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2015

John McInerney
Affiliation:
University of Scranton
Brad Kent
Affiliation:
Université Laval, Québec
Get access

Summary

The relationship between Shaw and film might well be described as a long, often frustrated, ultimately inconclusive courtship. Shaw was a futurist by habit as well as conviction, and he was interested in films from their very beginning at the turn of the twentieth century. Shaw, the master of verbal communication, thought Charlie Chaplin, the master of non-verbal communication, was a great artist. Then the introduction of sound, with the The Jazz Singer in 1927, led him to believe that films could now take the place of stage drama to some extent. However, the first film adaptations of his plays, made with varying degrees of faithfulness to the texts and of his participation, did not please him, even when, as in the case of German and Dutch versions of Pygmalion, they proved to be popular.

His education in the movie business had followed a familiar course for writers. He had discovered that studio-hired writers were unlikely to turn out what he considered successful adaptations, so he began writing his own screenplays, which did take advantage of film's inherent advantages and techniques. However, once the films were in production, the screenplays were altered, unwisely and without his permission, and sometimes in defiance of the contracts he had signed with the companies. His experiences were validating an emerging truism about motion pictures: if live theatre could be described as ultimately a writer's medium, film, at that time, had to be called a producer's medium. In the mid 1930s, then, Shaw was searching for a producer, one who would ‘know good work from bad … and didn't prefer the bad’.

He had already decided on his own approach to and ambition for drama on film. For instance, he could define precisely why he did not like Hollywood movies: they were abusing cinema, which he believed would have a cultural impact as large as the invention of printing. He recognised their technical superiority, and marvelled at their free spending, but he had no patience with their ‘children's picture book stories’. To him, it was as if they asked the hotel bellboy to turn out their scripts: ‘The bellboy's vision of life is a continual arriving in motor-cars and going upstairs and disappearing through doors that immediately close and leave life a blank … My plays do not depend on staircases for their interest’.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Costello, Donald P.The Serpent's Eye: Shaw and the Cinema. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1965.Google Scholar
Deans, Marjorie. Meeting at the Sphinx: Gabriel Pascal's Production of Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra. London: MacDonald & Co., 1946.Google Scholar
Dukore, Bernard F., ed. The Collected Screenplays of Bernard Shaw. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1980.Google Scholar
Dukore, Bernard F., ed. Selected Correspondence of Bernard Shaw and Gabriel Pascal. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Pascal, Valerie. The Devil and His Disciple. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970.Google Scholar
Perry, George. The Great Picture Show. London: Pavillion Books, 1985.Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Cinema
  • Edited by Brad Kent, Université Laval, Québec
  • Book: George Bernard Shaw in Context
  • Online publication: 05 October 2015
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107239081.017
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Cinema
  • Edited by Brad Kent, Université Laval, Québec
  • Book: George Bernard Shaw in Context
  • Online publication: 05 October 2015
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107239081.017
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Cinema
  • Edited by Brad Kent, Université Laval, Québec
  • Book: George Bernard Shaw in Context
  • Online publication: 05 October 2015
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107239081.017
Available formats
×