George formby

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

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). If the latter are classics, then so is On the Buses, the biggest selling British film of 1971. The showing of motion pictures to paying customers began in the 1890s, and crowds flocked to see brief footage of someone treading on a hosepipe.