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Witchfinder General$
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Ian Cooper

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781906733513

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906733513.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

The Place of the Film

The Place of the Film

(p.13) Chapter 1. The Place of the Film
Witchfinder General

Ian Cooper

Liverpool University Press

This chapter presents a background of Michael Reeves, the director of Witchfinder General (1968). Perhaps the best way to understand Reeves is to regard him as a home-grown ‘Movie Brat’. This was the name given to the geeky American cinephiles who were inspired by the critics-turned-directors of the French New Wave. These film-school-educated ‘Brats’ would make a number of innovative genre films which were to revolutionise Hollywood in the 1970s and beyond. Witchfinder General is not notable solely due to its strange status as ‘a disreputable classic’. It also draws on a number of British and American popular forms (such as the costume melodrama, the horror film and the Western). Moreover, it is a striking example of an auteur sensibility in what Robin Wood calls ‘that most discouraging of areas — the British commercial cinema’. Reeves' love of mainstream, Anglophone cinema went hand-in-hand with a rejection of the then-voguish European art cinema.

Keywords:   Michael Reeves, Witchfinder General, Movie Brat, genre films, costume melodrama, horror film, Western film, British commercial cinema, mainstream cinema

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