A Social History of the Cinema in Wales offers a unique perspective on the place of cinema in Welsh popular culture. The 'golden age' of cinema entertainment is now half a century behind us, yet it continues to linger in popular memory. The leading Hollywood stars of the 1930s and 1940s continue to attract the interest of biographers - and the films of the period are now widely available in video format. This book focuses on the culture of film-going that existed during the cinema's heydey. The long queues outside the picture houses, the reputation of the local fleapit, the relative opulence of the town centre 'super cinemas', and the value of cinemas as places where courting couples could meet were all things that film-goers of the 1930s and 1940s remember as vividly as the films themselves. This aspect of popular experience, however, is less often written about, and has never been comprehensively examined in Wales.
This book, therefore, seeks to explain why people went to the cinemas in the numbers they did, what type of cinemas they went to, what sort of experience they received when they got there and how Welsh society more generally responded to the remarkable popularity of this largely American form of entertainment.
Peter M. Miskell is Lecturer in Business History at the University of Reading. He has published widely on the social history of cinema, particularly in Wales, as well as on British cinema in general. His Ph.D., on which this book is based, was completed at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.