The study and appreciation of the life, works and times of Arnold Bennett

Video Programmes for home viewing

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Video programmes available to Arnold Bennett Society members for free download.
In these stressful times I’m making available some Bennett-related archive-based video programmes as free downloads for personal viewing at home. These sidelights on Bennett were originally put together for various presentations, for capturing interviews – and also for fund-raising as DVDs to be able to run a season of films of Arnold Bennett screen adaptations at Stoke Film Theatre.
Below are descriptions of an initial selection. To order a programme, simply e-mail me at ray.johnson@filmarchive.org.uk– if you request more than two programmes, I’d ask for a small donation towards the work of Staffordshire Film Archive. DVD copies can be made available if you are not able to view downloads
Prof. Ray Johnson MBE, Director: Staffordshire Film Archive

BENNETT AND BURSLEM

Ray as Arnold Bennett introducing Staffordshire Day and “The Bennett Trail” at the Wedgwood Institute in Burslem. Then, in Bennett’s own words, introducing the Potteries to the ‘outside world’ and giving his account of the struggle for Federation in 1910 as featured in The Old Wives Tale – and why the federated Potteries deserved to be called “Burslem” rather than “Hanley” or the eventual “Stoke”.  30 min.

ALL ABOARD Mr. BENNETT

In October 1911 Arnold Bennett set sail for New York on the Lusitania. He was in his element, as the Lusitania was one of the first liners built to be like a floating hotel – and he admitted that his secret ambition had always been to be the manager of a grand hotel. In his book about his visit to the USA – Your United States – he details the workings of the ship and life on board, and we get his impressions of New York and places he visited illustrated with archive film. Three years after the Titanic disaster, in 1915, the Lusitania would be sunk by a U-Boat in WWI. We see a touching animation of the end of Lusitania – two months before Bennett visited the Western Front and wrote Over There.     40 min

ARNOLD BENNETT AT THE FRONT – WWI

In June 1915 Arnold Bennett spent three weeks touring the Western Front in France and Belgium for propaganda purposes, publishing his account later in the year in his book Over There. This review of the early part of the War followed by readings of extracts from the book illustrated with archive films gives a unique perspective on the War from Bennett at the Front.     45 min

ARNOLD BENNETT – The Silent Movies

This programme reviews the ten silent film adaptations of Bennett’s work from 1914 onwards, from research by John Potter – through to his first screenplay The Wedding Dress of 1920 (and we see Virginia Eldin in 1984 with the ‘lost’ manuscript) and the wonderful 1929 film Piccadilly, featuring Charles Laughton and Anna May Wong. His final screen collaboration was with director Alfred Hitchcock – and we find how that project was abandoned when Bennett resisted it being re-worked as a talking picture. Existing stills and press accounts, together with archive film of some of the stars featuring in the Bennett adaptations, are enhanced with a complete additional film Enter the Twenties – a cavalcade of celebrities in the Arts in the 1920s.     40 min

ENTERTAINING Mr.BENNETT

This is a compilation of archive films and recordings, plus some modern performance sequences, of things which Bennett found entertaining and sometimes used in his writing – from clog dancers to football. Here we get an idea of the ambience and entertainment of the West End scene in the 1920s which he would have been familiar with. The London Underground features in Riceyman Steps and it was the “Tube” that led to the development of London’s West End. There is a feature on the entertainment and entertainers Bennett would have encountered at the Savoy Hotel – and some of their stories.   40 min
 
THE MAKING OF “THE CARD”

A behind-the-scenes look at the local filming in the streets of Middleport in Stoke, with personal reminiscences of the film’s star Alec Guinness by local people involved and the coverage of the filmmaking in the local press. It also includes the premiere of the film at the Odeon cinema, Hanley, with members of the cast attending, with commentary from Trevor Froggatt who was helping with police attendance at both the filming and this prestigious event.     30 min

ARNOLD BENNETT – THE STORY OF THE STATUE

 This is a compilation of video recordings, photographs and interviews charting the two decades of ideas and design proposals – from a “Bursley Trail” of statues to a Bennett grouping, then the decision to pursue the single seated figure. We see the clay figure sculpted in 2010 and show all stages of creating the bronze statue itself. We conclude with the unveiling event – 27th May 2017 – featuring many Society members.  40 min

 


 
THE ARNOLD BENNETT PLAQUES
 
Three events involving the unveiling of plaques to Arnold Bennett: in Hope Street, Hanley – where he was born – in Fontainebleau in France at the house Les Nefliers where he wrote The Old Wives’ Tale and at his home at 205 Waterloo Road, Cobridge. There are speeches, presentations and readings giving insight into Bennett’s importance to the Potteries and to English Literature in general. The programme features many Society members – with special guest Giles Brandreth at the unveiling in Fontainebleau.  80 min
 
AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN TOFT – AUTHOR – by JOHN SHAPCOTT

 This is an informal interview filmed by Ray at John Toft’s home in Foxt. John is from Stoke, and left to go to Magdalen College, Oxford, followed by travel in the East and teaching in Brighton, where he wrote his first novel The Bargee. Other books include The Wedge, The Bitch of Belmont and Maureen After and Before. 50 min
 
AN INTERVIEW WITH RUTH BENNETT – AB’s Niece – by JOHN POTTER
 
Filmed by Ray some 20 years ago, with Ruth’s unique personal recollections of AB and an insight into her teaching career. Plus an interview by Ray with John Potter – ex-Chair of the Arnold Bennett Society – before he left Stoke to live in London.  50 mi

BENNETT AND BURSLEM

Ray as Arnold Bennett introducing Staffordshire Day and “The Bennett Trail” at the Wedgwood Institute in Burslem. Then, in Bennett’s own words, introducing the Potteries to the ‘outside world’ and giving his account of the struggle for Federation in 1910 as featured in The Old Wives Tale – and why the federated Potteries deserved to be called “Burslem” rather than “Hanley” or the eventual “Stoke”.  30 min.

ONSTAGE Mr.BENNETT

Before World War 1, Bennett was the very model of a prolific and successful playwright. Between 1908 and 1913 he had five plays in the West End. Actors Ray Johnson, Jacqueline Redgwell and David Bowen perform dramatic readings of excerpts from a selection of Bennett’s many plays – with period songs from Virginia Meir and links from John Shapcott. Play extracts selected by John are from Cupid and Commonsense (Bennett’s own stage adaptation of Anna of the Five Towns), London Life, Body and Soul, The Love Match, Dear Mr Prohack and the ‘polite farce’ A Good Woman.   Playwright Joyce Holliday speaks in Burslem of the Bennett Centenary in 1967 and of her own stage adaptations of Bennett at the Victoria and New Victoria theatres – represented by a visual montage of posters, programmes and performance photos.  35 min.

 

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