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John Mills and British CinemaMasculinity, Identity and Nation$
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Gill Plain

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748621071

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621071.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Introduction: Acting English

Introduction: Acting English

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Introduction: Acting English
Source:
John Mills and British Cinema
Author(s):

Gill Plain

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621071.003.0001

Described by the Sunday Mirror as ‘the actor who portrayed the British as they would most like to see themselves’, John Mills's representation of the national character embraced a catalogue of virtues now perceived to be lost. Evident in the response to his death is a desire to reactivate this lost national self, and to celebrate once again an ‘unproblematic’ concept of nationhood. The blurring of the boundary between English and British draws attention to a problem that underlies any attempt to discuss national character and identity in Britain. Although Mills both is, and is acting, ‘English’, he does so as part of a British film industry – a nationwide creative and economic enterprise comprising personnel from throughout the British Isles. This book examines the screen construction of a complex and inconsistent Englishness, an Englishness which is at times just that, and at times representative of a wider British or imperial identity. It discusses the work of the actor within the film text, and considers nation and masculinity by focusing on performance.

Keywords:   John Mills, film industry, Britain, nationhood, identity, masculinity, Englishness, national character, virtues

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