Max Décharné

Did George Formby and Gracie Fields really help Britain out of the Depression?

The cheerful musical films produced in the 1930s may have little intrinsic merit, but they provide a fascinating glimpse of the times

George Formby in the 1939 film Come on George! Credit: Getty Images

Cinema history is a strange thing. A couple of months ago the Guardian began a series in which film critics write about ‘the classic film I’ve never seen’, some admitting to have unaccountably avoided exposure to genuine masterpieces such as Metropolis (1927) or À Bout de Souffle (1960). Others have revealed they have yet to sample undemanding box-office hits such as Top Gun (1986) or Titanic (1997).

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