Geoffrey Macnab / “3. Carnival and Consensus” / Searching For Stars: Rethinking British Cinema / 2000

George Formby, British comedian, singer-songwriter, and 1930s and 1940s film actor.

Discusses British comic actors who punctured good taste, as prescribed by dictates of class. Pimple, Billy Merson, George Robey, the Crazy Gang, Mother Riley, Will Hay, Frank Randle, Max Miller, the Carry On team, versus “prestige” British cinema. Miller: “all of my jokes have double meanings. It’s up to the customer to take the meaning he chooses.” On stage he kept a white book for the clean jokes, blue book for dirty ones. Trouble Brewing (1939), lovers capsized in a brewery fermenting tank (see Fisher, 1975, George Formby). Formby extremely popular in totalitarian countries. 1944, second most popular figure in Russia after Stalin. Carnivalesque fool sharing tyrant’s limelight.


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