‘Drazin’s is a genuinely quixotic enterprise, being both mad and lovably heroic at the same time. These days it is an uphill struggle, surely, even to get people to remember that there once existed a film-maker called Alberto Cavalcanti who fashioned in Went the Day Well?, Champagne Charlie and the ventriloquist’s dummy section of Dead of Night, three of the most vibrant and unusual narratives in British cinema... The book is studded with similar unlikely odysseys ... fascinating stories, all of them, narrated with wit, generosity and erudition’ – Jonathan Coe, Guardian
‘Charles Drazin’s The Finest Years is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the decade and highly entertaining’ – Philip French, Observer
'Charles Drazin writes well about that far-off time... Famous and forgotten names are painted perceptively in Drazin's portraits' – Moira Shearer, Daily Telegraph
In the 1940s, the British cinema, accustomed to continual crises, was enjoying an unlikely renaissance. National peril galvanized British film-makers into creating a cinema that reflect the life and concerns of the country with an unparalleled intensity. As Jean Renoir remarked, ‘the battle of Britain, through destruction of life and property, was wholly beneficial to the British film industry’. In those years, if you loved movies the place to be was not Hollywood but England. This book sets out to answer a simple question. What were the people responsible for this renaissance like? It is neither a history nor a critical appraisal, although it contains elements of both. It is foremost a portrait of – and a tribute to – some extraordinary individuals.