Jeffrey Richards and Anthony Aldgate / “Lest We Forget: Fame is the Spur” / British Cinema and Society / 1983

Fame is the Spur, 1947.

Election posted for 1923, featuring Ramsay MacDonald, Labour PM 1929-35.

After Labour government comes to power in 1945, the Boulting brothers make Fame is the Spur. Political, and recognized as such at the time. Not popular. About a Labour politician’s rise to power and fame, and his decline. Seen as thinly veiled portrait of Ramsay MacDonald. Most, including Labour government leaders, agreed message was: “It should not happen again,” and “Every man who sees this picture will want to go away and re-examine himself.” During 1930s, such a project would not have been considered because politics, particularly “references to controversial politics,” were banned by British Board of Film Censors. WW2 brought more flexibility and latitude into censorship system, resulting in several political themed movies: The Prime Minister 1941, The Young Mr Pitt 1942. BBFC, scrutinizing Fame is the Spur, found no insuperable problems, though pointed out: re Peterloo Massacre, “The actual scenes of fighting with the mob must be reduced to the minimum,” the word “blood” deleted from script, and required “forcible feeding should not be overstressed as torture” in scenes of Anna’s imprisonment as Suffragette. So, Boultings were able to make a political film. Most people simply didn’t pay to see it.


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