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        Michael Klinger, the role of the producer and the British film industry
        in the 1960s and 1970s
 
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Andrew Spicer was awarded an Arts and Humantities Research Council grant for a two-year project entitled: ‘Michael Klinger, the role of the producer and the British film industry in the 1960s and 1970s’.

The project started in February 2010 and is being conducted by Andrew and a full-time research assistant,
Dr Anthony McKenna. The project will archive, catalogue and interpret the Michael Klinger Papers.

The Papers shed light on Klinger’s career and the problems faced by a producer working in an industry that was, especially in the 1970s, in severe recession. Klinger made 32 films over a 20 year period, including
Repulsion (1965), Get Carter (1971), Gold (1974) and not forgetting the ‘Confessions Of’ series starring ‘Randy’ Robin Askwith.

Summary
This project will catalogue and interpret the Michael Klinger Papers, an extensive collection of material that documents the career of an important independent British film producer whose contribution to British film history has been almost entirely neglected. They are an as yet unexplored and unknown resource that has been donated to UWE by the producer’s son, Tony Klinger. They contain information about aspects of film production that is not normally available for inspection and analysis, including production costs, film grosses, distribution rights, company profit and loss accounts, legal disputes and censorship negotiations.

On the set of 'Gold' (1974).    Michael Klinger (third left) in his pomp on the set of 'Gold' (1974).     Basking in getting the finances in place for 'Gold' (1974)
Klinger was a highly significant figure in British cinema over a twenty-year period (1960-1980) during which he made 32 films. He straddled the normally separate spheres of the internationalist action-adventure film (notably Gold, 1974), the medium-budget crime thriller (e.g. Get Carter, 1970), exploitation cinema (from Naked as Nature Intended, 1961 through to the ‘Confessions Of’ series, 1974-76), and the art-house film: Klinger produced two of Polanski’s British films, Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de-sac (1966), and Chabrol’s Les liens de sang (Blood Relatives, 1975). Klinger was an important nurturer of untried screenwriting and directorial talent, not only Polanski for his first two British films, but also Mike Hodges for Get Carter, Peter Collinson for the highly experimental surrealist/absurdist thriller The Penthouse (1967) and Alastair Reid for the the neglected thriller Something to Hide (1972). Together with Mike Hodges and Michael Caine, Klinger formed a production company (the ‘Three Michaels’) to make the misunderstood Pulp (1972), a sharp critique of the formulaic thriller. In contrast, Klinger’s internationalist big-budget action-adventure films - Gold and Shout at the Devil (1976) - have never received any attention, but are instructive examples of successful middle-brow art. Through the variety and range of his productions, Klinger became the only consistently viable indigenous producer during the 1970s, a period of stagnation and retrenchment in the British film industry.
The primary aim of the project is to sort and catalogue the Michael Klinger Papers and thus make them available to scholars as a valuable resource. The catalogue itself and selected key documents will be made accessible online as will the supplementary interviews conducted during the project with screenwriters, cinematographers, set designers, directors and actors who worked closely with Klinger.
These materials, together with contextual material drawn from a study of the trade press, memoirs and other relevant archives, would be the basis for the second major aim: a definitive study of Klinger’s career that is likely to be published in the British Film Makers series. An additional article on a specific aspect of his career has been published in a relevant journal. The monograph on Klinger will restore him to his rightful place as an important figure in post-war British cinema history.

The breadth and variety of his career illuminates many of the key issues and problems that faced film-makers during a period of profound change in British cinema, and will therefore contribute to a revisionist history of the British film industry that, especially in the case of the 1970s, has been under-researched and critically neglected. This engagement with a revisionist history will be enhanced by the link with the study of the British film industry of the 1970s by Portsmouth University which are the Project Partners.

Methodologically, the Klinger project’s focus on the fluctuations and vicissitudes of the film-making process will be an important corrective to accounts of British cinema that rely on textual interpretation.

In addition, a study of Michael Klinger would afford a better appreciation of the misunderstood role of the film producer. The project will thus connect its revisionist account of British film history with important methodological and conceptual issues within Film Studies that has over-privileged the role of the director within film-making and thus distorted the creative processes at work. In this way, the project would also form part of a wider concern with the role of the film producer in post-war British cinema history, the focus of the mid-point symposium. The specific focus and concerns of the project would also connect with current concerns about the interface of creativity and commerce and the nature of the Creative Industries.

The project is managed by an experienced researcher,
Dr. Andrew Spicer, the Principal Investigator (PI) who is an expert in British film industry and who has made the only detailed critical study of a British film producer, Sydney Box. In addition, he established the Sydney Box archive of papers now housed at the British Film Institute. He will collaborate with Research Associate Dr Anthony McKenna, who would work full-time organising, cataloguing and interpreting the Klinger Papers.
 
Dr. Andrew Spicer, Principal Investigator

Dr. Andrew Spicer, Principal Investigator


Dr. Spicer will write an article on a specific aspect of Klinger’s career and, together with Dr McKenna will write the monograph on Klinger.
Janet Moat, ex-Head of Special Collections at the British Film Institute, has agreed to act as an archival consultant and a Steering Committee of the professors who are experts in British film history and in managing research projects will be established to oversee the project.

The project, which runs for two years from 1 February 2010 to 31 January 2012, is being conducted in partnership with the School of Creative Arts, Film and Media at the University of Portsmouth (
Professor Sue Harper and Dr Justin Smith) and is linked to their AHRC-funded project on British cinema in the 1970s.

The project will be hosting a two-day international conference, 19-20 April 2011 at the Arnolfini, Bristol, which will debate the role of the producer in British cinema. See ‘News and Events’ for futher details.