Michael Klinger, the role of the producer and the British film industry in the 1960s and 1970s

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of England
Department Name: Faculty of Creative Arts

Abstract

This project will archive, catalogue and interpret the Michael Klinger Papers, an extensive collection of unknown material that documents the career of an independent British film producer donated to the University of the West of England (UWE) by the producer's son, Tony Klinger. The Papers contain information about aspects of film production that is not normally available for inspection and analysis, including letters, legal issues, production costs, film grosses, distribution rights, and company profit and loss accounts.

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 Polanski's 'Repulsion' (1965) and 'Cul-de-sac' (1966), and Chabrol's 'Les liens de sang' ('Blood Relatives', 1975). Through the variety and range of his productions, Klinger became the only consistently profitable independent British producer during the 1970s.

However, despite his importance, Klinger has not received any critical attention and the aim of this project is to remedy that neglect. The project will be conducted and managed by an experienced researcher, Dr. Andrew Spicer, an expert in British film history. He will collaborate with a full-time postdoctoral Research Assistant who will organise and catalogue the Klinger Papers. This catalogue, together with digitised versions of selected key documents from the Papers, will be made accessible online, as will the supplementary interviews conducted during the project with film personnel who worked closely with Klinger. Janet Moat, ex-Head of Special Collections at the British Film Institute, will ensure that the work is completed to recognised archival standards.

The Papers and interviews, together with contextual material drawn from other archives, the trade press, memoirs and other relevant sources, will enable Dr Spicer and the Research Assistant to co-author a definitive study of Klinger's career to be published in the prestigious British Film Makers series. An additional article on a specific aspect of his career will be published in a relevant journal.

A symposium will be held at the end of the project's first year in order to discuss Klinger's work in the wider context of invited papers from researchers that will explore the work of other British film producers in the post-war period. The symposium will be part of the ongoing collaboration between UWE and the School of Creative Arts, Film and Media at Portsmouth University which is also engaged in exploring 1970s British cinema.

This project will make a valuable and as yet unknown resource available to scholars through establishing a permanent archive with a catalogue, key documents and interviews accessible online. The monograph on Klinger will restore him to his rightful place as an important figure in post-war British cinema. It will provide an in-depth understanding of the varied functions of the film producer whose role has been misunderstood and neglected within Film Studies. The study of Klinger will also make an important contribution to the resurgent interest in British cinema and culture in the 1970s, just beginning to be recognised as a rich and diverse period but one that lacks systematic and rigorous studies. The detail provided by the case study of Klinger will illuminate many of the key issues and problems faced by British film-makers during a period of uncertainty and profound change. The specific focus of the project will also connect with wider current concerns about the realtionship between creativity and commerce andthe nature of the Creative Industries thus disseminating its findings to a wider community.

Publications

10 25 50
publication icon
Forster, Laurel; Harper, Sue (2010) British Culture and Society in the 1970s: The Lost Decade

publication icon
McKenna A (2012) Gaps and Gold in the Klinger Archive in Journal of British Cinema and Television

publication icon
Spicer A (2012) A British empire of their own? Jewish entrepreneurs in the British film industry in Journal of European Popular Culture

publication icon
Spicer A (2010) Creativity and commerce: Michael Klinger and new film history in New Review of Film and Television Studies

 
Description This project has made a valuable and as yet unknown resource available to scholars through establishing a permanent archive with a catalogue, key documents and interviews accessible online. The forthcoming co-authored volume on Klinger, 'The Man Who Got Carter', will restore him to his rightful place as an important figure in post-war British cinema. It will provide an in-depth understanding of the varied functions of the film producer whose role has been misunderstood and neglected within Film Studies. This study of Klinger, and the other journal articles and chapters in book collections that have already been published, will also make an important contribution to the resurgent interest in British cinema and culture in the 1970s, just beginning to be recognised as a rich and diverse period but one that lacks systematic and rigorous studies. The detail provided by the case study of Klinger will illuminate many of the key issues and problems faced by British film-makers during a period of uncertainty and profound change. The specific focus of the project will also connect with wider current concerns about the relationship between creativity and commerce and the nature of the Creative Industries.
Exploitation Route Of interest to film and other creative industry personnel, especially those specifically concerned with production. The website (www.michaelklingerpapers.uwe.ac.uk) has attracted considerable interest with other producers seeing it as a possible model for disseminating their own work/materials.

Many of Klinger's films, especially 'Get Carter', are widely known to the general cinemagoing public and the book will therefore be of interest, as will the website, to cinephiles and the general reader.
Sectors Education

URL http://michaelklingerpapers@uwe.ac.uk
 
Description Klinger is now firmly established as a significant figure in British cinema history with several citations in new (subsequent to the project's completion) studies. I have been contacted by several researchers regarding material in the collection. It has also been used in projects on Success in the Film and Television Industries and Bristol's Film and Television industries, both of which had industry partners as well as academics. It continues to be cited on projects and in discussions about the producer and continues to inform my teaching at under and post-graduate levels and PGR.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Title Researching the producer 
Description Using archival material and documents relating to unproduced films 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The method was adopted as part of the research design of both UWE's new MA - Creative Producers - and of the Exeter/London Film School MA in International Business. 
 
Title Catalogue for the Michael Klinger Papers 
Description Full catalogue of the producer's papers, available online 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Has been used for teaching purposes at UWE and in Portsmouth. 
URL http://wwww.michaelklinger.uwe.ac.uk
 
Description Collaboration with School of Creative Arts, Film and Media at the University of Portsmouth 
Organisation University of Portsmouth
Department School of Creative Arts, Film and Media
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The collaboration, principally with Dr Justin Smith and Professor Sue Harper, was fruitful and beneficial for both institutions. The research from the Klinger project informed their book, 'The Boundaries of Pleasure: British Film Culture in the 1970s' and this research, part of an existing AHRC project, informed the direction and helped to frame the analysis of Klinger's later career. Dr Smith has gone on to lead a major AHRC research project on Channel 4 Television and British Film Culture in which Spicer is participating.
Start Year 2010
 
Description 'The Jewish Influence on the British Film Industry'. This public engagement event at Watershed Cultural Cinema in Bristol on 24 March 2019 consists of an introductory overview by me about the Jewish influence on the UK film industry, followed by a screening of the 90 minute documentary about Michael Klinger produced by his son Tony. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The introductory overview of the Jewish influence on British cinema was designed to better inform the audience as to the reach and significance of this largely unacknowledged contribution. In contrast to Hollywood, where the contribution of Jewish entrepreneurs is well known and celebrated, in the UK it has been largely ignored. However, the impact of Michael Balcon, Alexander Korda, Nat Cohen, David Puttnam and many other was huge on production, distribution and exhibition practices.
The overview concludes with a brief profile of Michael Klinger and then a screening of the documentary about his career and importance made by his son Tony followed by a Q&A, to spark debate and further work.
This is a regional event but is part of a national programme, the Jewish History Month compiled by the Jewish Historical Society of England that is focusing on screen representations and film and television producers. It is supported by a regional (south-western) Jewish society: Davar.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited address at the inception of the AHRC-funded Warwick project 'PRODUCERS AND PRODUCTION PRACTICES IN THE HISTORY OF ITALIAN CINEMA, 1949-75'. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact My research informed the research design of this project and I advised on the bid. The invitation was to provide an overview of industry production to the full project team which is international and to invited other academics and industry practitioners it was held in June 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016