Oh, Calamity!

Oh, Calamity!

By Mark Newell

Format: Paperback

(1 customer review)

Publication Date: 28 Oct 2020


Categories: History, Politics and Society, Media and the Arts

ISBN: 9781913551186


The lost, damaged and surviving films of the Aldwych farces and farceurs!

The first-ever complete study of the Aldwych farce films (1924-1954) and the plays they were based on. The thirteen Aldwych farces were phenomenally successful in the West End between 1922 and 1933. The stars – Ralph Lynn, Tom Walls and Robertson Hare – transferred their work to the screen equally successfully in the early 1930s. With humour that relied more on characterisation and clever wordplay than slapstick, they became top stars of the new sound films, “talkies”. 

Also covered in the book are the screen originals written for the team by Ben Travers, the 1930s solo vehicles for both Lynn and Walls, and the later plays and films in which Hare appeared with Alfred Drayton.

The earliest films of the Aldwych stars (1930-1933) were very successful but they haven’t all survived. Those that have are often in poor condition. One of the main objectives of Oh, Calamity! is to encourage a search for the missing films, the restoration of those that are damaged and the copying of those that are currently unavailable.

Each of the forty-eight films featured in the book is described in full with its cast, credits, plot, history, availability and reviews. Ninety short profiles of the personnel involved (stars, leading ladies, supporting actors, playwrights, screenwriters, producers and directors) are included as well as 200 rare illustrations. 

Mark Newell was formerly a Civil Servant in the Inland Revenue, Departments of the Environment and Transport and the Local Government Boundary Commission before his retirement. He is a long-term fan of vintage comedy films and is a collector of related memorabilia. He is a member of the Max Wall Society and is currently revising three humorous books – Flexi-Jargon, Flexi-Politics and Flexi-Film Noir. He lives in Surrey. 


Elton Maryon (Guest Review) - 20 Jul, 2021

A beautifully written book and an absolute joy to read. I love comedy but knew very little about the work of Ben Travers and next to nothing about the Aldwych farces on either stage or screen. Mark has brought it all to life quite brilliantly. As a recent column by David Benedict in ‘The Stage’ stated, “More farce please, we’re British” - this book is well timed.

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